Department of Real Estate Assessments FAQs

Residential Properties

What is Fair Market Value?

Fair market value is the price your property would sell for under normal market conditions.

How does the County determine the value of residential property?

When determining the fair market value of residential  properties, the assessor considers several factors: 

  • The price a typical buyer would pay for the property in its current condition in a competitive and open market 
  • The value that similar properties are selling for in a specified area 
  • Estimated cost to replace the property with today’s materials and labor costs

Assessments are effective as of January 1 each year. 

Why is my assessment divided into land and building values?

The Virginia state code requires that the total assessed value be allocated between land and building when reported.

Why is the County's assessment different than a private appraisal?

A private appraisal typically limits analysis to a single, specific property on a certain date, usually based on the recent sales of a few comparable properties. Also, a private appraisal may be made for a variety of purposes, such as for purchase or sale, mortgage financing, a home equity loan, an estate settlement, or income tax purposes.

For real estate assessments, the mass appraisal method is used which is “the systematic appraisal of groups of properties as of a given date using standardized procedures and statistical testing.” Real property in Arlington is assessed annually, using mass appraisal methods, with an effective date of January 1. The annual January 1 assessments must equalize market values among all properties. Since the County's appraisals depend on the reconciliation of all sales in a neighborhood within a 12-month period, an assessment represents a typical, or average value for a property in relation to other property values.

Why is the assessment different from a recent sale price?

Assessments are based on typical values within neighborhoods for the type and condition of the property. While the sale price of a property will affect its assessment, the effect will be diluted by the mass appraisal method, which considers all sales within a neighborhood to determine assessed values. Also, the County uses a 12-month sales period that begins 16 months before the effective date of assessment (January 1). For example, for the 2021 assessments, the period is September 1, 2019, thru August 31, 2020. Because of this time lag, assessments of properties that have sold more recently may differ from sale prices if real estate markets are changing.

How do trends in real estate prices affect assessments?

Normally, a property's assessment is based on sales activity in a defined neighborhood. The assessed value of a particular property depends on the sales of other properties in the nearby area. Assessments are not typically based on sales outside the defined neighborhoods. Assessments are not determined by ZIP codes or larger areas of the County as often reported in the press.

The January 1, 2021, assessment relied on sales within defined neighborhoods between September 1, 2019, and August 31, 2020. Sales occurring after the analysis period in each neighborhood are reviewed and tested against the statistical models used to test the accuracy of the assessment models and to identify where refinements are needed.

Does lot size affect the assessment?

Lot sizes do affect assessed values. The total value will be higher for a larger lot, but the rate per square foot will diminish as the lot size increases. The County assesses residential land by the buildable site. For example, if zoning requires a 6,000-square-foot lot for a single-family home, a parcel that is 10,000 square feet is valued at less per square foot than a 6,000-square-foot parcel. It's the principle of diminishing return.

Why is the value of my refinance appraisal lower than the assessment?

Refinance appraisals have a specific intended use—to derive market value to secure lending from a financial institution. The approach and scope of that work are not intended to value properties for real estate assessments. Because the intended use and scope of work are different and different approaches are used, it is generally not recommended to use refinance appraisals to contest your County assessment.

How are land values determined each year?

Land in Arlington is valued using the per-home site valuation method, which places most of the value on the home site itself. Each lot in Arlington is unique in size and physical attributes, but the existence of a home site is the driving factor of value. Each neighborhood in Arlington has a base land value, and adjustments are made for properties above and below the average lot size. Each year, the Department of Real Estate Assessments monitors and analyzes sales of properties that are either vacant, unimproved parcels of land or that have been purchased and the improvements demolished for new construction. Given each lot’s unique features, the department determines the average lot size for each neighborhood and sets a base rate using market data.

Arlington County is a densely populated urban area that is scarce on land, which makes all home sites valuable regardless of each lot’s features. Assessments do not factor in potential use, so land values are not based on what could be potentially built on the lot in the future but only on the current home site and improvements. All excess land, whether wooded, sloped, un-buildable or unused, must be valued Its value is reduced by adjusting the base value rate depending on the size of the lot when compared to the neighborhood’s average lot size.

Why has my condo land increased and building value decreased?

Each year condo market sales are analyzed to determine if an adjustment is appropriate and what the adjustment should be to the total assessment. Virginia state code requires that the total assessed value be allocated between land and building. This means that the total property value is derived first and changes to the land and building allocations occur after. An analysis of land sales also is conducted to determine the appropriate land adjustment for each condo neighborhood.  Land analysis may suggest an increase, reduction or no change. If there is no change in total market value, the allocation of the value between the separate land and building is adjusted. In most cases, when condo land value increases, the building value will decrease, if there is no change in overall market value. The recent 2021 change in land assessment was done to balance with apartments on a per unit valuation.

How will property inspection be conducted during COVID-19?

Residential Inspections & COVID: Currently we are processing assessment reviews and appeals that have been filed at the request of the Owner to have their 2021 assessment reviewed. Normally in this process we would request an interior and exterior inspection of the property to process each case. Given the COVID pandemic and safety concerns of exposure for both our staff and homeowner’s we are recommending to forego the inspection and the case be processed virtually with all information relevant to the Owner’s concerns being submitted online with the case. This may include interior and exterior photos of the property, plans or measurements, private appraisals, data on comparable sales or anything else that is deemed relevant to the case. Our Appraisal staff will also utilize fly over imagery, street view imagery and any accessible information online such as MLS listings or submitted plans to also confirm information.

COVID Precautions for Interior inspections: If an inspection is deemed necessary for your property or is specifically requested by the Owner, the Appraiser will set up an appointment to visit the property. The Appraiser will confirm if anyone at the residence has COVID symptoms or has been exposed to anyone with COVID in the last 14 days. The Appraiser will check in through the DHS “Self-Health Check In App” which confirms that the Appraiser isn’t experiencing symptoms or has been exposed During this inspection, the Appraiser will remain 6 feet apart from all others, wear a protective face mask, not touch anything and ask that you open all doors.

COVID Precautions for Exterior inspections: If an exterior inspection of your property is deemed necessary by an Appraiser or at the request of the Owner, the Appraiser will set up an appointment to visit the property if the exterior inspection is a result of an appeal or may visit the property unannounced during normal neighborhood inspections that are conducted throughout the year. The Appraiser will check in through the DHS “Self-Health Check In App” which confirms that the Appraiser isn’t experiencing symptoms or has been exposed During this inspection, the Appraiser will remain 6 feet apart from all others, wear a protective face mask, and ask that gates be unlocked and open if access is needed.

How can I obtain my commercial worksheet?

Requests for commercial worksheets should be submitted in writing. Requests may be emailed to Realog2@arlingtonva.us or mailed to: Department of Real Estate Assessments, 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 611, Arlington, Virginia 22201. All worksheet requests made by an agent must include a notarized Letter of Authorization for the specified assessment year.

Commercial worksheets are sent by postal mail. To receive worksheets via FedEx, FedEx envelopes must be provided to the Department of Real Estate Assessments with the appropriate FedEx account information. In-person document pick up is available by appointment only.

Real Estate Taxes

Who determines how much I pay in real estate taxes?

The Department of Real Estate Assessments does not determine the amount of taxes owed on a property. The assessor’s primary responsibility is to determine the fair market value of your property. Once the assessments are determined, the County Board adopts the tax rates which are applied to the property. The Arlington County Treasurer then bills and collects the real estate taxes.

What is the current tax rate?

The Calendar Year 2021 tax rate is $1.013 ($1.030 including stormwater) per $100 of assessed value. Commercial tax rate for properties such as office buildings, hotels, general commercial properties, have an additional tax rate of $.125 per $100 of assessed value.

The annual tax rate is adopted each April by the County Board.

How is my real estate tax amount calculated?

The assessment is multiplied by the real estate tax rate, which is set by the County Board each year.

Tax rates in Arlington are expressed in dollars per $100 of assessed value. For example, a tax rate of $1.026 per $100 would result in a real estate tax of $4,104 on a property assessed at $400,000.

The below chart shows two different ways to calculate taxes based on the tax rate and the property assessment.

Tax Rate x Assessment = Tax
Tax Rate Assessment Taxes
$1.026/100 $400,000 $4,104
$1.026 $400,000/100 $4,104

All properties in Arlington County, except those designated for operating railroads, interstate pipelines or public utilities, are assessed. 

Learn more

When are my real estate taxes due?

Real estate taxes are billed in two equal installments each year: June 15 and October 5.

If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, late payment penalties will not be assessed for payments made the following business day. Per the code of Virginia, taxpayers are responsible for knowing the due dates and ensuring timely payment. The Arlington County Treasurer collects real estate taxes.

How can I find my tax rate online?

The property assessment can be found on the County’s website. Enter the physical address or Real Property Code (RPC) of the property, then select View. The tax rate for your property will be listed under tax balances link, located in the left column.

 

Appeals Process

How can I request a review of my assessment?

Property owners may request that an appraiser review their assessment by filing an Application for Review. Applications must be delivered, postmarked, or filed online before midnight on March 1.  

An appraiser will contact the property owner and schedule an appointment. The appraiser will review the information on which the assessment is based, and information identified by the property owner. Property owners will be notified of the results by mail or email, depending on their preference. An owner who has not received the results by April 1 may wish to file an appeal with the Board of Equalization to preserve that option in case they are not satisfied with the departmental assessment review.

How can I appeal my assessment?

Property owners who are not satisfied with the departmental review of their assessment may appeal to the Board of Equalization by filing an Appeal from Real Estate Assessment. Appeal forms must be delivered, postmarked, or filed online before midnight on April 15. The Board of Equalization is appointed by the Arlington County Board and Circuit Court to hear objections to real estate assessments. While the departmental review should be a property owner’s first step, appeals may be made directly to the Board of Equalization without a formal Departmental review by the department.

Must the property owner allow an interior inspection of his or her property when contesting an assessment?

No; however, County appraisers cannot address conditions for which they are not aware. An exterior inspection will provide some information about the property, but it will fall short of a complete review, and the outcome of the contested assessment may be affected by a lack of information.

Commercial Properties

How does the County determine the value of commercial property?

When determining the fair market value of commercial properties, the assessor considers several factors: 

  • The price a typical buyer would pay for the property in its current condition in a competitive and open market 
  • The value that similar properties are selling for in a specified area 
  • Estimated cost to replace the property with today’s materials and labor costs 
  • How much it takes to operate and maintain the property 
  • Potential rental earnings

My apartment property has a retail component. How do you value this type of property?

If the property being valued has more than one commercial component (for example, an apartment component with a retail component), each component would be valued using the market data for their respective property types and any available operating history. That would determine an overall market value that represents all components of the property.

My apartment property has both market-rate units as well as committed affordable units. How do you value this type of property?

The Department of Real Estate Assessments analyzes market-rate and committed affordable multifamily projects separately. If an apartment building has both market units and committed affordable units, the department would value the different units based on their respective data, while also incorporating actual operating history at the property.

How can I find my tax rate online?

Property assessments can be found on the County’s website. Enter the physical address or Real Property Code (RPC) of the property, then select View. The tax rate for your property will be listed under tax balances link, located in the left column. 

How are commercial tax bills calculated?

Tax rates in Arlington are expressed in dollars, per $100 of assessed value. For example, a tax rate of $1.026 per $100 would result in a real estate tax of $410,400 on a multifamily property assessed at $40,000,000.

Commercial properties, such as office buildings, hotels, general commercial properties, have an additional tax rate of $.125/$100 of assessed value. 

If the properties are located in one of Arlington’s three Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) there is an additional BID commercial rate: 

Commercial BID rate (CY 2020) 

  • Ballston BID: $.045/$100 
  • National Landing: $.043/$100 
  • Rosslyn BID: $.078/$100 

The below chart shows two different ways to calculate taxes based on the tax rate and the property assessment. 

Tax Rate x Assessment = Tax
CommercialPropertyType Tax Rate Assessment Taxes
Apartment $1.026/$100 $40,000,000 $410,400
Apartment $1.026 $40,000,000/100 $410,400
Office/ Retail/ Hotel $1.026+$.125=$1.151/$100 $40,000,000 $460,400
Office/ Retail/ Hotel $1.026 +$.125 =$1.151 $40,000,000/100 $460,400

I filled out a County-issued Income and Expense (I&E) Questionnaire, but I received a second notice asking me to file. Do I have to file a second time?

We recommend that you call or email our office to confirm receipt of the first submission before mailing in another submission of the same information. You can reach us at 703-228-3920 or realog2@arlingtonva.us

How will property inspection be conducted during COVID-19?

Residential Inspections & COVID: Currently we are processing assessment reviews and appeals that have been filed at the request of the Owner to have their 2021 assessment reviewed. Normally in this process we would request an interior and exterior inspection of the property to process each case. Given the COVID pandemic and safety concerns of exposure for both our staff and homeowner’s we are recommending to forego the inspection and the case be processed virtually with all information relevant to the Owner’s concerns being submitted online with the case. This may include interior and exterior photos of the property, plans or measurements, private appraisals, data on comparable sales or anything else that is deemed relevant to the case. Our Appraisal staff will also utilize fly over imagery, street view imagery and any accessible information online such as MLS listings or submitted plans to also confirm information.

COVID Precautions for Interior inspections: If an inspection is deemed necessary for your property or is specifically requested by the Owner, the Appraiser will set up an appointment to visit the property. The Appraiser will confirm if anyone at the residence has COVID symptoms or has been exposed to anyone with COVID in the last 14 days. The Appraiser will check in through the DHS “Self-Health Check In App” which confirms that the Appraiser isn’t experiencing symptoms or has been exposed During this inspection, the Appraiser will remain 6 feet apart from all others, wear a protective face mask, not touch anything and ask that you open all doors.

COVID Precautions for Exterior inspections: If an exterior inspection of your property is deemed necessary by an Appraiser or at the request of the Owner, the Appraiser will set up an appointment to visit the property if the exterior inspection is a result of an appeal or may visit the property unannounced during normal neighborhood inspections that are conducted throughout the year. The Appraiser will check in through the DHS “Self-Health Check In App” which confirms that the Appraiser isn’t experiencing symptoms or has been exposed During this inspection, the Appraiser will remain 6 feet apart from all others, wear a protective face mask, and ask that gates be unlocked and open if access is needed.

How can I obtain a copy of my commercial worksheet?

Requests for commercial worksheets should be submitted in writing. Requests may be emailed to Realog2@arlingtonva.us or mailed to: Department of Real Estate Assessments, 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 611, Arlington, Virginia 22201. All worksheet requests made by an agent must include a notarized Letter of Authorization for the specified assessment year.

Commercial worksheets are sent by postal mail. To receive worksheets via FedEx, FedEx envelopes must be provided to the Department of Real Estate Assessments with the appropriate FedEx account information. In-person document pick up is available by appointment only.

Tax Relief and Exemptions

Real Estate Tax Relief Program

The Real Estate Tax Relief Program provides an exemption and/or deferral of real estate taxes for qualified Arlington homeowners age 65 and older and those who are totally and permanently disabled who have title to the property and meet the income, asset, and eligibility requirements. The annual income limit for 2021 is $106,969. The asset limit for 2021, excluding the value of the home, is $413,714 for an exemption and $558,513 for a deferral. The filing deadline is November 15; however, apply as early as possible. For more information or an application, go to arlingtonva.us/grants or call 703-228-1350.

Disabled Veteran Exemption

The real property of any veteran with a 100-percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability may be exempt from taxation. The property must be the veteran’s principal place of residence. The exemption also extends to the surviving spouse of a veteran who died on or after January 1, 2013. An application is required, and certain documentation must be provided; however, the application is generally a one-time process and does not need to be refiled unless the veteran’s principal place of residence changes. Download the application or call 703-228-3920.

Exemptions for Surviving Spouses of Military Members Killed in Action

Virginia General Assembly legislation exempts the principal residence of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed forces who was killed in action from real estate tax. To qualify: 

  • The home must be occupied as the principal residence of a surviving spouse. 
  • The home must be zoned as single family residential. 
  • The assessed value must not exceed the County’s average assessed value for the current year ($658,600 for 2019). 
  • The surviving spouse must not be remarried.

The exemption applies regardless of when the military member was killed in action or whether the spouse was living in Virginia at the time, but it only applies to real property taxes to be paid on or after January 1, 2015. The exemption applies to the surviving spouse’s principal place of residence, even if he or she moves to a new principal residence.

Application is required. A copy of the death certificate and a copy of marriage license must be provided.

Abatements for Buildings razed, Destroyed or Damaged

Virginia General Assembly legislation allows for abatement of levies on buildings razed, destroyed or damaged by fortuitous happenings, if the following requirements are met: 

  • The decrease in assessed value caused by the damage must be more than $500. 
  • The destruction or damage must render the building unfit for use and occupancy for 30 days or more during the calendar year. 
  • Applications for abatement must be made by or on behalf of the owner of the building within six months of the date when the building was razed, destroyed or damaged.

Fortuitous happenings that qualify are beyond the control of the owner, such as house fires, tree damage, flooding, or any other incidents that make the building unfit for use or occupancy for 30 days or more. Abatements for qualifying events will be applied to the damaged structures only and not the land. To apply, notify the Department of Real Estate Assessments in writing of the abatement request within six months, and you will be contacted by an appraiser to set up an inspection of the damaged property. Documentation may be required, such as insurance reports, fire damage reports, permit reports, etc.

Exemptions for Older or Disabled Homeowners

The Arlington County Real Estate Tax Relief Program provides an exemption and/or deferral of real estate taxes for Arlington homeowners age 65 and older and certain totally and permanently disabled homeowners, who meet all asset and income requirements. The annual income limit for 2021 is $106,969. The asset limit for 2021, excluding the value of the home, is $413,714 for an exemption and $558,513 for a deferral. The filing deadline is November 15; however, apply as early as possible. For more information or an application, go to arlingtonva.us/grants or call 703-228-1350.

Partial Exemptions for Rehabilitated Properties

Certain substantially rehabilitated, renovated or replaced properties, both residential and commercial, are eligible for a partial real estate tax exemption: 

  • Substantially rehabilitated, renovated or replaced commercial and mixed-use structures: Qualifications and Application 
  • Substantially rehabilitated commercial office buildings incorporating certain technology improvements: Qualifications and Application 
  • Substantially rehabilitated, renovated or replaced residential, commercial and mixed-use structures or improvements in the Nauck Village center special revitalization district: Qualifications and Application

Subdivisions and Resubdivisions

What's the procedure for splitting and/or merging my property into multiple lots?

The Department of Environmental Services’ (DES) Subdivision primarily receives the requests for re-subdivisions, including the splitting of a parcel, merging of parcels, and reviewing all documentation provided for a fee. Approved requests are then submitted to the Department of Real Estate Assessments (DREA) to create new parcels or modify existing records in the assessment database based on the re-subdivision request. DES and DREA work in collaboration to provide this information to the Circuit Court Land Records Division.

What's the process for consolidating and/or merging lots?

The Department of Environmental Services’ Subdivision section primarily receives the requests for re-subdivisions, including the splitting of a parcel, merging of parcels, and reviewing all documentation provided for a fee. Approved requests are then submitted to the Department of Real Estate Assessments to modify existing records in the assessment database. DES and DREA work in collaboration to provide to the Circuit Court Land Records Division this information.

What if my property square footage doesn't match the certified plat?

Inquiries about square footage discrepancies should be directed to Real Estate Assessments’ Records section. A certified plat by a surveyor recorded in the land records division is required before changes can be made to the property record. Inquiries may be submitted via email to Realog2@arlingtonva.us or mailed to:  2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 611 Arlington, Virginia 22201

General Information

How can I update my mailing address?

All change of mailing address request must be submitted in writing. Requests may be submitted online, sent via email to Realog2@arlingtonva.us or mailed to: Department of Real Estate Assessments, 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 611, Arlington, Virginia 22201

How do I request a new property address?

New address requests must be applied for online. The Arlington County’s permitting division issues County property addresses, and forwards approved addresses to county departments.

How do I obtain a copy of my most recent assessment notice?

Property owners can obtain a copy of their most recent assessment notice online at propertysearch.arlingtonva.us. Enter the property’s physical address or Real Property Code (RPC) then select View. A copy of assessment notices, displayed by assessment year, will be available under the Assessment Notice tab in the left-hand column.