Buncombe County – Every four years, the Buncombe County Tax Assessor Office reevaluates property values. For the longest time, the trend has been toward higher property values as the area continues to draw people from all over the country wanting to relocate to the region.
Most residents believe reevaluation is a gimmick to increase one’s property taxes, but not so, says the county tax assessor in a recent presentation before the Weaverville Town Council. Keith Miller, Buncombe County Tax Assessor, spent more than half an hour giving his presentation and answering questions at the August meeting of the council. “We revalue, every four years, about 130,000 parcels,” Miller explained.
He then brought his presentation home by telling the council what the residents, businesses, and public utilities were currently valued at in Weaverville. “Approximately $1.1 billion in real property value, $480,000 in personal property, $6.9 million in public service (utilities), $16 million in motor vehicles, and $1.25 billion in total taxable value.” He then brought it back to the county level, saying there was $51 billion in tax value in the county.
He then explained that a reevaluation is coming in 2025, saying the state statute says it has to be done every eight years, but a county can do it more frequently. Buncombe does it every four years.
How reappraisal is accomplished
“Reappraisal is completed by using mass appraisal methodology,” explained Miller. “Mass appraisal employs the same appraisal methods as any real property appraiser would use, and those are the sales comparative method, the cost approach, and the income approach. The same approach you take when you hire an independent appraiser to get an appraisal on your home.” He said that all counties across the country use the mass appraisal method.
He illustrated that his office is only responsible for tax appraisals, not tax rates. He pointed out that tax rates are the responsibility of the county commissioners and town council boards. “Lots of people, when they talk to me, will say, ‘Keith, why did you go up on my taxes?’ Well, I didn’t go up on your taxes. I do property values. Tax rate—that’s for the county, municipalities, and fire districts…[they] set the tax rate.”
Miller said that the tax assessor’s office personnel do not go inside homes to assess value unless they are invited. “99.9 percent of homes in this county, we will never be inside. We do not go inside your home. We only go inside if you invite us. He did say they use aerial photography. “We recently flew 660 miles… across the county to capture a birds-eye view of your property.” This allows the county to find additions to property that may not have been reported. They also used cars to take street-level views.
He then talked about the latest technology used by his office to keep up with the housing market and also allow a property owner to access information that his office has, including an app for their smartphone. Miller said he sees reappraisal as a way to keep “the tax burden equal.” He said the reappraisal takes effect on January 1, 2025, with appeals being heard from January through April of 2025.
He then asked for questions from the council. Councilman Doug Jackson wondered about the age of a home and how it might affect the value of a home. Miller said that houses are compared to homes in the area of similar age. Councilman Andrew Nagle injected into the conversation that if a “… thousand-year-old house sells for $10 million dollars, that’s what your house is going to be appraised for.” Miller said that was right.
Nagle asked how many appealed their evaluation. Miller said he could not tell a percentage, but last year it was about 500, and in the previous reappraisal, it was about 8,000.