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Volume 1 - Opinions of Counsel SBEA No. 7

Opinions of Counsel index

“Full value” assessment (definition) - Real Property Tax Law, § 306:

Real property in New York State is required to be assessed at “full value” or a uniform percentage thereof. This full value standard for all property must be based on the same market value period and is the price a willing buyer would pay a willing seller under ordinary conditions for such real property.

The standard used in assessing real property on a local assessment roll is found in section 306 of the Real Property Tax Law which provides that “[a]ll real property in each assessing unit shall be assessed at the full value thereof.”

This standard of “full value” has been defined by the courts to mean the price a willing buyer (one not forced to buy) will pay to a willing seller (one not forced to sell) under ordinary circumstances, based on the facts each would consider in arriving at a price for the property. The courts have held that there is a compliance with the full value standard if real property is being uniformly assessed at a particular percentage of full value based on the same market value period. Accordingly, if property is sold at a “forced sale” resulting in a price substantially below the full or market value of the property, the assessor in determining the assessment for taxation purposes should consider the full or market value since the sales price in such case does not reflect the true value of the property.

The standard of “full value” is used each year as of taxable status date to determine the condition and ownership of property for the current roll. The assessors are required to compute the “full value” of property as of such date each year since each assessment is independent of the one placed on the preceding year’s assessment roll. Thus, if the assessors feel that there has been an increase in value due to a rise in the market price of a piece of property, or that the property was assessed at a lower percentage of full value than the average of all parcels in the assessing unit on rolls of prior years, they may increase the assessment regardless of whether there has been an addition or capital improvement on the property.

The value of a particular residential building may depend on a number of pertinent characteristics of the property, such as location, size, social and economic status of residents, age of building, and condition of building. Improvements are normally considered as additions to the value of a property. Repairs and maintenance expenses are usually not considered as adding to the value, but rather as maintaining the property in its normal condition.

February 3, 1969

Updated: