Schuylkill Countywide Reassessment Documents
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Vision?
A: Vision Government Solutions is a company which specializes in services and software designed to assist jurisdictions with assessing. We are typically hired by counties, municipalities, and jurisdictions to help them fulfill the State requirement to reassess all real property so that the assessments reflect current market value as of a certain date.
Our work is largely regulated by State law which dictates when and how we reassess properties. We have been providing appraisal services and Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal Software (CAMA) to Assessing departments located throughout the United States since 1975. During this time, we have successfully completed over one thousand revaluation projects throughout the Northeastern United States.
We bring a significant amount of professional expertise to a project. Our large appraisal staff is comprised of State certified professionals that have significant industry experience. Our Senior Appraisal personnel average over 20 years of Appraisal experience.
While headquartered in Massachusetts, our Pennsylvania appraisal division has focused specifically on the unique needs and assessment regulations of PA since 1976. Because our employees are geographically dispersed, we can assign them to projects in their home State thus allowing them to apply their local knowledge to their professional experience.
As a company, we fully understand that a revaluation can have a very real economic impact within a County once the results are released. Revaluations have a long history of creating intense conjecture and debate with respect to fairness and accuracy. It is with this understanding that we take great pains to ensure that every one of our appraisals accurately reflects current market value as defined by each State.
We also work closely with our clients after values are released to make sure the process is understood and accepted. Counties and ultimately taxpayers are heavily dependent on the property tax to pay for important services such as police, fire and public schools. It is through the delivery of professional, properly executed cyclical property revaluations that we can assist our clients with the important task of ensuring that these vital property tax levies are fairly and equitably distributed.
Is my assessment correct?
A: The following 2 questions can help you decide if your assessment is correct.
Please note: If you are concerned that your taxes are going to double because your property value has doubled, that is not the case.
Since everyone else’s property value is also rising, the tax rate must drop proportionally to the amount of total increase to the County’s total value.
1) Can I sell my property for that amount?
The first thing that you should do is ask yourself if you could sell the property for approximately that amount.
2) Does the Assessment Office have the correct information on my property?
An online database will be available to you later in the project, where you will be able to review the information that the Assessment Office has collected on your property to make sure the data is accurate. You will also receive a data mailer that you can review and verify, and you will also be able to meet with a representative to review the property record when informal reviews commence.
While reviewing your property, you should make sure that all measurements on the sketch are accurate. Please note that all measurements are taken from the exterior. You should also check the land size and interior data to ensure accuracy.
What approach will be used to determine value?
A: The Schuylkill reassessment team will develop property values in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Consolidated Assessment Law. Three approaches to value shall be considered, the Cost Approach, Comparable Sales Approach, and Income Approach. The price at which any property may actually have been sold shall be considered but shall not be controlling.
Land valuation will be accomplished through an analysis of vacant sales, as well as a land residual analysis, which is accomplished by deducting improvement values and extracting land values from improved sales. This analysis results in a base land curve. In each community, neighborhoods will be established that represent similar value patterns and neighborhood factors will be established. Each neighborhood, street by street, will also be rated for desirability which provides a second factor that may be applied to the base square foot or acreage schedule to account for differences in location. In addition, factors will be applied to account for negative or positive influences on value such as topography, view, irregular lot shape, waterfront and other factors.
Overall property values, including improvement value, will be verified by the sales ratio analysis, segregated by the pertinent value related factors of each property. This analysis will be stratified within various categories including style of property, segmented by size and age, by lot size and location factors. This analysis enables the Project Management team to fine-tune the final tables for each property to create a mirror image of market sales activity within the County.
For commercial/industrial properties, all three approaches to value will be employed. For commercial/industrial properties that are basically non-income-producing, the secondary approach will be the market approach, utilizing the square foot values derived from the sales analysis for the particular use type of the property. Square foot values will be segregated by type, including industrial, warehouse, retail, etc. and will provide reasonable ranges for per square foot sale prices of building areas. Land value, once determined, will be added to building value for an estimate of total value. For all income producing commercial property, the income approach, utilizing a direct capitalization approach, will be employed.
The replacement cost approach to value will be employed for both residential and commercial and industrial properties as follows:
Information derived from our cost analysis will provide the basis for determining the cost pricing schedules used in the valuation of residential and commercial/industrial properties.
Subsequent to the determination of replacement cost pricing schedules and the establishment of land values, the team will analyze the sales of improved properties in order to derive an estimate of physical and functional depreciation and economic obsolescence.
Physical and functional depreciation and economic obsolescence will be computed to be the difference between the selling price of the total property and the sum of the estimated replacement cost new of the improvement plus the estimated land value.
Provided that a sufficient number of sales are available, guidelines in the form of tables based upon the condition, desirability and usefulness of a building relative to its actual age will be developed. After approval by the Assessor, these tables will be used to estimate the depreciation of comparable subject properties.
All of these tables are then applied to each parcel in the County. Each property is then reviewed by an appraiser. During this review, the Certified Pennsylvania Evaluator (CPE) ensures that the value is consistent with the sales activity within the immediate area. This value then becomes the final proposed value and once accepted by the County becomes the final assessed value.
Will I Have an Opportunity to Question My Assessment After Receiving My Notice?
A: Informal reviews will be conducted by qualified staff who can review property descriptions, make data corrections, and document information and photos provided by the owner that might affect the value.
The county will mail every property an official Change of Assessment Notice on or before July 1, 2025.
Is the valuation model that Vision uses a proprietary model?
A: Absolutely not. Below we have listed sample models used for valuing residential buildings and residential building lots. Please be aware that our models are built to represent market conditions within a County and therefore they can vary between different Counties. Nevertheless, a typical building and land model are depicted below. All beginning costs are arrived at by performing an in depth study of the local market which is a process that includes one or more of the following steps- a complete review of recent County sales transactions, consultations with local builders, consultations with local realtors, an examination of transactions where new properties were built and sold as well as the use of nationally recognized building cost manuals.
Residential Building Valuation Model
Beginning Square foot price
+/- Physical characteristics (bedrooms, bathrooms, quality of construction, flooring, fireplace etc…)
= Adjusted cost per square foot
Adjusted cost per square foot x building square footage
– Building depreciation
= Building value
Land Valuation Model
x Unit price
x Land condition adjustment
x Location adjustment
= Land value
What is a reassessment?
A: A reassessment is the process of performing all of the necessary Market Analysis and Valuation steps to determine accurate and equitable values for all properties within a county. The purpose of a reassessment is not to raise taxes. It is to create an equitable distribution of the tax burden.
What is a Clean and Green?
A: Clean and Green – Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act 319 of 1974, (as amended) is a state law authorized by the Pennsylvania Constitution that allows qualifying land that is devoted to agricultural and forest land use to receive a preferential assessment. Property owners with land of 10 acres or more in size may qualify for the Clean and Green program. Land tracts of less than 10 acres in size and actively producing an agricultural commodity may also be eligible. The Clean and Green program provides a tax reduction by permitting a “use value” to be assessed to qualifying land instead of “market value.” Property owners may learn more about this program by visiting the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s website.
What happens during a reassessment?
A: A physical inspection of the exterior of each property is conducted. While data collection is being conducted, appraisers are studying the recent market sales in order to gain a full understanding of the real estate market in your County. This study of recent property sales allows the appraisers to establish valuation models used to estimate the value of properties that have not sold using comparisons with recent sales. The valuation models are applied to all non-sale properties in order to approximate the market value of each property.
How will I know if my assessment is equitable?
A: Refer to our Is My Assessment Correct? section.
Why did my land value change differently than my building value?
A: Since the last reassessment, real estate values have changed significantly. Construction costs typically increase at a slower rate than property values have appreciated. When building costs have not increased as much as total values, the bulk of the total increase is attributable to land. This makes perfect economic sense, as it is land that is limited supply.
Will a reassessment increase taxes?
A: A revaluation may result in an increase or decrease of individual taxes depending on how a property value increased or decreased relative to the average change in the County’s assessments. It does not mean that all property taxes will increase or decrease. Remember assessments are only the base that is used to determine the tax burden. The tax burden is the amount that the municipality must raise to operate the local government and support the many services each of us has come to expect, such as schools, police, etc. As an example, if the same amount of money is to be raised after the revaluation as the previous year and each assessment doubles, the tax rate would merely be cut in half.
What is the “market” and who determines my property value?
A: The value of your property is based on an analysis of the entire market for a specified period of time before the completion of the revaluation project. The market can generally be defined as, you, the person who sold the property to you, and the person willing to buy it from you. It is the appraiser’s job to research and analyze the values in any particular area or neighborhood. In effect, they do what you would do to determine the selling price when putting your property up for sale. However, the appraiser has specific guidelines to follow during their research. Some factors that are examined for each property are: location, size, quality of construction, age of improvements, topography, utilities, zoning restrictions, if any, etc.
Will all property values change?
A: Most likely, yes. However, not all property values will change at the same rate. Market value may have increased more for some neighborhoods and property types than for others. Some neighborhoods and property types may have decreased in value and others may have remained the same. One purpose of a revaluation is to make sure that the assessed values reflect the changes that have occurred in the real estate market.
What is market value?
A: Market value has been defined by the courts as, “The price in a competitive market a purchaser, willing but not obligated to buy, would pay an owner, willing but not obligated to sell, taking into consideration all the legal uses to which the property can be adapted and might be reasonably applied.” (See Buhl Found. v. Board of Prop. Assessment, 180 A.2d 900 (Pa. 1962).
The Market value represents the typical selling price for the property, unaffected by special or creative financing or sales concessions granted by anyone associated with a sale.
Do all assessments change at the same rate?
A: There are differences between individual properties and between neighborhoods. In one area, the sales may indicate a substantial increase in value. In another neighborhood, there may be a lesser change in property values.
Different types of properties within the same neighborhood may also show different value changes. For example, one – story houses may be more in demand than two – story houses or vice versa. Older homes in the same area may be rising in value more slowly than newer homes.
Among the numerous factors to be considered that will cause values to differ are location, condition, size, quality, number of baths, basement finish, garages, and many others.
Will the person who inspects my property be able to tell me my new assessment?
A: The data collectors or “field listers” that are visiting every property will be qualified and training; however they are not responsible for making subjective judgements or determining value. All data gathered from field review, desktop review, data mailers, and informal reviews, will be used by state-licensed Certified Pennsylvania Evaluators (CPEs) to establish the subjective judgements and value of each parcel. We will then further review this information to ensure that your assessment corresponds fairly to the assessments of other properties.
I've heard you develop values by computer. Is this correct?
A: Just as in many other fields, computers are useful in the assessment process. Assessors are trained to look for relationships between property characteristics and market value. By coding these characteristics and studying sale prices, assessors can estimate value by developing formulas and models. Computers are much faster and are capable of advanced analysis in this area. Despite these capabilities, common sense and assessor judgment are always required to verify assessments. Assessors most familiar with the neighborhoods and properties review all assessments.
Have another question? Get in touch!
Schuylkill County Reassessment Office
Schuylkill County Reassessment Office
315 N Centre Street, Suite 301A, Pottsville, PA 17901
Mon. through Fri. 8:30 am – 4:00 pm