Before assessing any parcel of property, the assessor estimates its market value. Market value is how much a property would sell for, in an open market, under normal conditions. To estimate market values, the assessor must be familiar with all aspects of the local real estate market, such as:
Current financing charges for borrowing money to buy or build property
Local construction and repair costs
Normal operating expenses
What different types of properties are selling for
Using this information, a property's value can be estimated in three different ways.
Using the first assessment approach, property is compared to others similar to it that have sold recently, using only sales where the buyer and seller both acted without undue pressure. This method is called the market approach and is normally used to value residential, vacant, and farm properties.
The second way is to calculate what it would cost, using today's labor and material prices, to replace the structure with a similar one. If the structure is not new, the assessor determines how much it has depreciated since it was built. The resulting value is added to an estimate of the market value of the land. This method is used to value special purpose and utility properties and is called the cost approach.
The third way to estimate a property's value is to analyze how much income a property, like an apartment building, store, or factory, will produce if rented. Operating expenses, insurance, maintenance costs, financing terms, and how much money owners expect to make on this type of property are considered.
Availability of Computer Systems
The availability of computer systems makes estimating values using these three approaches more efficient. Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal techniques are used to analyze sales and estimate values for many properties at once. Once the assessor estimates the market value of a property, its assessment is calculated. New York State law provides that all property within a municipality be assessed at a uniform percentage of market value.