We all pay them and most of us dread them, but very few of us in the general public know exactly how property taxes are determined.  Unless it is our full-time job learning the codes and algorithms are not of much interest, but knowing a few basics can help us develop some appreciation for the process and end result.

In New Hanover County and in accordance to NC state law and administered by the Property Tax Division, valuations are conducted once every eight years. For these types of revaluations appraisers visit each property. During the visit measurements of structures are taken, a photograph the property is taken and factors which may have affected the value of the property since its last valuation are evaluated.  After the visits are completed the work on determining a dollar amount of “tax” worth begins.

The primary valuation used in New Hanover County is the cost approach. The market and income approach are also used.  When they can be applied all three approaches are used; however, there are some properties that cannot be measured by all three. If the applicable approaches yield large enough variances then additional information is gathered by the appraiser. A computer assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) module for real property is used during the analysis.

The pricing schedules contain comprehensive guidelines including ratings for items from masonry to air-conditioning units. Appraisers must work within the NC approved models, only overriding a building’s model designation with reason.

The cost approach estimates the costs to replace the structure at today’s costs minus accrued depreciation and then the land value is added to determine a fair market value. The market approach values the property based on like properties sold and the income approach estimates the value of a property based on income produced.

The current tax rate is:

So what can New Hanover expect during the 2017 revaluation? Appraisers hit the streets in September of 2013 and will continue property visits until June 2016. So if you see someone on your property wearing a red shirt with a New Hanover County logo driving a county vehicle displaying a NHC logo, they are most likely a tax appraiser. Appraisers will make contact with owners if present and always carry identification. Owners who for whatever reason ask the appraiser to leave will have to settle for the valuation on file. We’d all like to know where the tax rates will land and what new valuations are expected to be up or down as compared to the last revaluation.  As the housing and property market continue to improve along with the overall economy we might see increased valuations.

For more information on how taxes are computed and the 2017 revaluation schedule visit the New Hanover County’s newly launched development services and tax department website.