The Assessor is required by law to appraise property at market value. Market value is defined as the most probable price, expressed in terms of money, which a property would bring if it were for sale in the open market.
The appraisal process is conducted by accredited real estate appraisers and includes the review, inspection, and analysis of sales. The results of sales analysis are applied to unsold property to determine market value. Property owners are notified of changes to the value of their property.
All Washington counties establish these values on January 1st of the assessment year. Market sales occurring in the previous year are used to establish the January 1st value. This value is then used to calculate the following year’s property taxes. For example, sales from 2008 were used to establish property values for January 1, 2009, which were used to compute 2010 taxes.
Appraisals fall into two major groups:
If property owners believe their value to be substantially different than the market value, the department should be called to verify the records. Property values may be appealed by filing a petition form with the local Board of Equalization. Information about the appeals process is available in Appealing Your Property Tax Valuation to the County Board of Equalization (PDF - 222K), published by the Washington Department of Revenue.