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Assessment - Terms and Definitions

Following are common terms and definitions used in property appraisal and assessment that may be helpful for individuals in dealing with property valuation and taxes. Click on any term to see a definition or explanation.

Ad Valorem

Adjournment Date

Address Changes

Appealing Your Property Value/Informal Appeals

Appealing Your Property Value/Formal Appeals

Assessor’s Office

Attorney in Fact

Board of Equalization and Review

Builder's Relief

Convention Date (BER)

Fair market value


Lien Date

M.A.I. (Member Appraisal Institute)

Market Analysis

Mass Appraisal

Military Exemptions


Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney Form

Property Record Card

Property Tax

Qualified Sales

Real Estate/Real Property

Real Estate Lookup

Relief for Home Builders with Unsold Inventory


Sales/Assessment Ratio

Taxable Value

Tax Levy

Tax Lien

Tax Relief Programs

Ad Valorem -
Latin for "to the value", refers to the assessment of taxes based on the value of taxable property within the taxing jurisdiction.

Adjournment Date:
  The date after which the Board of Equalization and Review will not receive appeals, except for properties which receive a Notice of Value after the adjournment date. By statute, the Board may adjourn by the 3rd Monday in May, but cannot adjourn any later than June 30, for the purpose of receiving appeals.  The Board will continue to meet after June 30 to hear appeals that were submitted timely.

Address Changes:
Mailing address changes for property listings must be made by contacting Land Records,  700 N. Tryon St., 1st Floor, Charlotte, NC 28202; Phone: 704-336-6357; Fax: 704-336-7333. (Change of Address Form)  For mailing address changes on your appeal, you may contact the Assessor’s Office appeals team at 704-432-7250.

Appealing Your Property Value/Informal Appeals:
An informal appeal in a given tax year may be submitted to the Assessor's Office:

  1. Between January 1 and the date of adjournment of the Board of Equalization and Review (BER)  (adjournment date no later than June 30), or
  2. Up to 30 days from receipt of a Notice of Value, even if this extends past the BER adjournment date.
In the first instance, an appeal form may be obtained either directly from the Assessor’s Office, or from its online website. In the instance of a Notice of Value (NOV) being received, the notice contains a form that can be removed and submitted for an informal appeal. Using this the form with the NOV insures that the appeal is correctly recorded in the County’s property records. Property owners wishing to appeal should provide all the information they can on the form. Some tips are provided to help in stating clearly the reasons for the appeal and providing information that the Assessor's Office should review in considering the informal  appeal.

Appealing Your Property Value/Formal Appeals:
A formal appeal to the Board of Equalization and Review (BER) for a given tax year must be submitted to the BER in writing or by personal appearance:
  1. After the Board convenes (e.g., 1st Monday in May) and before its adjournment date (see above); or
  2. Upon receipt of a notice of informal decision from the Assessor's Office, and the later of either:
    1. 15 days from the date of the letter, or

    2. before the adjournment date of the BER. The notice contains a form that can be removed and submitted for a formal appeal. Using this form insures that the appeal is correctly recorded in the County’s property records. 

Property owners wishing to appeal should provide all the information they can on the form. Some tips are provided to help in stating clearly the reasons for the appeal and information the Board should review in considering the informal appeal. 

Appraisal: An estimate of value for property is derived from its characteristics and the assumptions, knowledge, and experience of the person rendering the opinion as to its intrinsic value in the marketplace.

Assessor’s Office: The Assessor's Office is a business unit of Mecklenburg County's Land Use and Environmental Services Agency (LUESA). The mission of the Assessor's Office is to discover, list, and appraise all real and personal property in Mecklenburg County in accordance with North Carolina General Statutes. The Assessor's Office strives to provide accurate and timely information to internal and external customers while fostering good relations with those customers and the community.

Attorney in Fact:  A person who is authorized to perform business-related transactions on behalf of someone else (the principal). To become someone's attorney in fact, a person must have the principal sign a power of attorney document. This document designates the person as an agent, allowing him or her to perform actions on the principal's behalf.

Board of Equalization and Review:  An independent body appointed by the Board of County Commissioners. The BER is governed by  North Carolina law  and is primarily responsible to hear formal appeals of assessed value and to decide whether to uphold the assessed value or to make adjustments consistent with market value.

Business Personal Property (BPP): North Carolina law requires business and professional personal property to be listed with the assessor on a listing form approved by the Department of Revenue. The assessment date for all personal property subject to this listing is January 1 of each tax year. All personal property owned and subject to this listing must be reported for ad valorem taxation unless specifically exempt by statute. It is the responsibility of the owner of the personal property to comply with and meet all the appropriate filing requirements. See BPP.

Convention Date: The first date when the Board of Equalization and Review convenes for the purpose of conducting business each year.

Equalization: The process by which property values are adjusted to the same level within an assessment district, so that all taxpayers within the tax district will pay property taxes on assessments that are the same relative proportion of actual value.

Fair market value: This is the price, in terms of money, that a property will bring if sold on the open market, between a willing seller and a willing buyer, both of whom are fully informed of all the uses, advantages and disadvantages of the property, and assuming each party acts in a prudent manner. Finding the market value of a property involves estimating the price a typical buyer would be willing to pay for it in its present condition. The process of estimating that value is called an appraisal.

Foreclosure: A specific legal process in which a lender attempts to recover the balance of a loan from a borrower who has stopped making payments to the lender by forcing sale of the property used as collateral for a loan.

Individual Personal Property (IPP): North Carolina law requires individual personal property to be listed with the tax assessor on a listing form approved by the Department of Revenue. The assessment date for all personal property subject to this listing is January 1 of each tax year. All personal property owned and subject to this listing must be reported for ad valorem taxation unless specifically exempt by statute. It is the responsibility of the owner to seek out the appropriate tax laws and applications to take advantage of such exemptions. See IPP.

Lien Date: The date when taxes become a lien against the property to which they pertain. In property taxation, this date is usually the same as the Assessment Date. A property tax lien is a security interest in each property subject to ensure the payment of the tax.

M.A.I. (Member Appraisal Institute): This is a professional designation awarded to properly qualified real estate appraisers by the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers of the National Association of Real Estate Boards. It is awarded only after favorable recommendation as to character, creditable experience and education, submission of at least three appraisal reports, satisfactorily passing two or more examinations, and after pledging to adhere to a code of professional ethics and regulations.

Market Analysis: Market analysis involves comparing a number of properties by location, displaying listing information, value, and other relevant data that tend to show an estimation of value of a property. A Market Analysis tool is available.

Market Value: The highest price in terms of cash, or on terms reasonably equivalent to case, which a property will bring if exposed for sale on the open market by an informed seller, with a reasonable time to find a purchase buying with full knowledge of all the uses and purposes to which it is adapted and for which it is capable of being used, with neither the buyer or seller being under compulsion to buy or sell.

Mass Appraisal: The appraisal of a large number of properties in one area using standardized techniques and considering the uniformity, or equality, of the appraisals with respect to the other properties and the value placed on each of them. This method is used most often in the revaluation of property for assessment purposes. Mass appraisal and single property appraisal, more commonly referred to as “fee appraisal”, utilize the same appraisal techniques, judgments and methods. One method is not superior to the other, but is differentiated by the scope of the assignment. Single property appraisal examines the comparability of a single property to several other properties. Mass appraisal examines the whole universe of sales in the mass assignment.

Military Exemptions: As of January 1, 1974, military personnel on active duty are not exempt from listing any unregistered vehicles and paying personal property taxes in the North Carolina county in which their property is located. All vehicles, trailers, etc. not registered on January 1 of each year must be listed with the tax office. All registered vehicles will automatically be billed three months after renewal of a tag or issue of a new tag. In accordance with North Carolina General Statutes and Federal Law, all military personnel on active duty must pay to the state of their respective homes of record.

Neighborhood: An urban or suburban residential or commercial district having such common characteristics that it has a distinctive identity that sets it apart from adjacent areas. A neighborhood is delineated from adjacent areas by physical barriers, such as railroad tracks, hills and ravines, by changes in the social, economic and racial character of the inhabitants, by changes in the use of the land, (e.g., a change from a residential to a commercial use or changes in zoning or other legal restrictions on the use of the land). The term neighborhood is also applied to the immediate vicinity of a property. When used in this sense, it is limited to surrounding properties within two to three hundred feet of the subject property.

POLARIS:  Parcel information is displayed graphically through the Property Ownership and Land Records Information System (POLARIS), using the County's Geographic Information System (GIS) integrated with aerial imagery. See POLARIS.

Power of Attorney: A written instrument by which a Principal authorizes another person to act as his or her agent or attorney within the limits specified by the grant of authority. The power granted may be limited to a single transaction, or it may be a blanket authorization, granting the agent the power to act in all matters pertaining to the principal.

Power of Attorney Form: NC Department of Revenue provides a form specifically for property owners to convey power of attorney to third parties to represent their interests in assessment issues within the state.

Property Record Card: This is also called “Appraisal Card” or “Data Card”. All these terms refer to the Assessor’s record of individual real estate appraisals made for assessment purposes. The typical card lists the name of the owner, address of the property, and  a legal description of the land, a sketch of the main building, its dimensions, and sometimes a photograph of the property, details of the interior and exterior construction of the building, conditions, and grade, details of the replacement cost estimate and depreciation allowed, width and depth of the land, the unit foot value used, depth factor used, and the total land value, the appraised value of land and improvements.

Property Tax: An annual Ad Valorem tax levied on the owners of taxable real and personal property. Property tax revenue is used to pay the cost of government and the services provided by the government. The property tax for any property is based on the property tax rate (set by the elected body) multiplied by the assessed value of the property. Property Tax information related to billed Real, Business and Individual Personal Property is available on the Property Tax Bill Lookup .

Qualified Sales: A sale between unrelated, knowledgeable parties, each of whom seeks to achieve his best advantage; also called arm's length sales.

Qualified Sales Tool: This is an online tool to assist users in finding qualified sales data in proximity to a given address; graphically displays sales on a map, using icons that link to additional data; works to find qualified sales (arms length transactions, excluding foreclosures and short sales) prior to January 1, 2011. Foreclosures cannot be used as evidence to support an appeal.

Real Estate/Real Property: All rights, interest and benefits arising from the ownership of physical units of land and the improvements, and fixtures located on the property.
Real Estate Lookup: Real Estate Lookup is a software system that allows users to search and access property record information based on common search criteria.

Real Estate Lookup: Real Estate Lookup is a software system that allows users to search and access property record information based on common search criteria. It features links to other tools for mapping properties and for comparing groups of properties.

Relief for Home Builders with Unsold Inventory: A law passed by the NC General Assembly effective in 2010 provides tax relief in the form of deferred property taxes on unsold homes. Any licensed general contractor who buys real property, makes improvements to it and resells it is a qualifying builder. Only general contractors can apply, and they must provide their license number on the application. See Builder's Inventory - expires 2013.

Revaluation: A mass appraisal of all the properties, particularly Real Estate, within an assessment jurisdiction for the purpose of equalizing the assessed values. The complete revaluation procedure consists of setting up an Appraisal Card for each parcel, accounting for all the land area within the jurisdiction, measuring and listing the Improvements, estimating the Depreciation, calculating the value of each parcel, and reviewing and equalizing the individual appraisals. Revaluation is the process of reappraising all properties within the county for tax assessment purposes. It is required at least once every eight years by North Carolina statute. The process has two objectives: value properties at current market prices, and equitably distribute the cost of local government among the property owners. For more information, go to 2011 Revaluation.

Mecklenburg County completed a reappraisal of all real property, effective January 1, 2011. The previous revaluation was done in 2003, so the 2011 revaluation was mandated by North Carolina statute. The actual tax on a property – and how it changes from year to year – is the decision of elected officials when they adopt a budget and set tax rates in June of each year. These officials comprise the Board of County Commissioners, and the Council members of the respective municipality in which a property may be located. For more information, go to the Revaluation Website.

Sales/Assessment Ratio: The ratio of the assessed value to the selling price, as computed by the formula: Assessed Value divided by Selling Price. This ratio is used to measure the level of assessments in relation to the market value. The ratio should trend toward 100% to reflect how close the assessed value is to the market value of the property on the effective date of the revaluation. Mecklenburg’s county-wide sales/assessment ratio was 96% on January 1, 2011.

Situs: This refers to the location, position, place or situation; the place where something is with respect to the jurisdiction over it or rights to it. For  example: if your house is located inside a City or town in Mecklenburg County, the situs of your property is the tax districts associated with that City or town in which the property is located. If you property is not located in a city or town in the county, your situs is unincorporated Mecklenburg County.

Taxable Value: The value fixed for the purpose of levying an Ad Valorem Tax. In some states, this is the assessed value, and in others it is the assessed value after the processes of equalization have been completed .

Tax Levy: This refers to the total revenue that is to be raised by taxation for the support of government; the legislative bill or act by which an annual tax is imposed. The tax levy on an individual property is the amount of taxes owed and billed for that property.

Tax Lien: A Lien in favor of the taxing agency that automatically attaches to real property for the amount of the property taxes due on the property, and in some states for all taxes due from the owner that must be paid before good title can be conveyed.

Tax Relief Programs: North Carolina offers programs providing tax relief for low-income elderly or disabled citizens, as well as disabled veterans. These programs allow a portion of the assessed value to be excluded from taxation, or a deferral of taxes to property liens payable at a later date. Eligible taxpayers should learn more to see if they qualify. See Tax Relief.

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