Dare County Assessment Case Study

How EagleView imagery helped the Dare County Tax Appraisal Department discover $50m in undeclared property value.

Background
At a Glance

$50M

in undisclosed personal property value

$235,000

in new annual tax revenue

100%

desktop appraisals

North Carolina’s Dare County includes nearly 110 miles of oceanfront, which makes up a large portion of the Outer Banks. That means Dare County Assessor Hosea Wilson and his department have a lot of prime real estate territory to comb through when appraising property.

In 2018, with the real property revaluation coming up in 2020, Dare County acquired their first EagleView flight to prepare for the task. Close communication with other EagleView customers in North Carolina made the case for the product. “We were focused on getting EagleView after everything we’d seen in the other counties,” said Hosea. “It felt like it would provide what we really needed for the type of reappraisal we were doing.”

EagleView’s oblique imagery, as well as the workspaces and data layers offered by CONNECTExplorer™, seemed like their best chance to get the task done in the time they had. Along the way they discovered another unexpected benefit to the imagery—it proved useful for discovering unlisted personal property.

EagleView Quote

“Without the use of this product for the reappraisal, I’m not sure we could’ve pulled it off in the time frame.”

EagleView Customer Image

Hosea Wilson

Assessor

Dare County

Challenge

Dare County’s Tax Appraisal department dealt with several unique challenges in their workflow. The most significant was the process of the 2020 countywide reappraisal for real property. Reviewing parcels in person during the summer was already difficult because of the volume of vacationers in the area and on the roads. In the summer months, the year-round population of 30,000 could soar to over 300,000 in any given week. However, there were other issues with field visits. “If I’m doing the review from an automobile, I can’t see all sides of the house or focus on the neighborhood,” said Hosea.

By happenstance they also found the imagery was very useful in identifying and discovering unlisted and underlisted personal property. With the ocean on one side and sounds and canals on the other, they realized a major area where the listings could use the help—the boats that taxpayers own. Running statistics on the data for vessels in the system brought up some inconsistencies that led to a deeper review.

In reviewing watercraft assessments on file, they found inequities in valuations of watercraft. Some were substantial with entire vessels being undervalued at rates as low as $20. As Hosea said: “You can’t buy a Fisher-Price boat for that much!”

The area also has a high demand for vacation rentals, which don’t always get listed as taxpayers may not realize the need to self-report. Temporary rental platforms like AirBnB and VRBO don’t submit lists of their rentals and locations to local government, and matching listings for personal property appraisers is “very difficult and time-consuming.” Using imagery, they created layers cross-referencing advertisements for rentals with known rentals, allowing appraisers to easily find unreported vacation rentals.

Solution

With EagleView’s oblique imagery, appraisers could see more. Not only did the multiple angles allow a more thorough view of all sides of the house, but also created an aerial view of the entire neighborhood, which allowed for a more consistent, equitable appraisal.

“We implemented 100% desktop reappraisals, so all of our review was done with this oblique imagery from our offices,” said Hosea. “We found it’s just much more efficient. Without the use of this product for the reappraisal, I’m not sure we could’ve pulled it off in the time frame.”

To address the issue of inadequately valued watercraft, they created a layer in CONNECTExplorer containing their existing data. This allowed personal property staff to remotely go parcel by parcel to compare listed boats to what was visible in the imagery. If data on the number and value of boats looked accurate, they could move on to the next parcel. However, when they found boats that were not listed in the system, staff could easily create documentation and contact taxpayers. “It really facilitated the process of discovering unlisted property.”

Impact

$50M

in undisclosed personal property value

$235,000

in new annual tax revenue

100%

desktop appraisals

With a more refined reappraisal experience and many more vessels accounted for, the 2020 property revaluation was much smoother sailing.

“Everyone was very excited,” said Hosea. “We discovered about $50 million in assessed value just in vessels—that’s substantial. When taxed, it added an additional $235k in revenue to the county.”

The new revenue helped demonstrate the ROI of EagleView aerial imagery to county and municipal administration and finance departments. The success of the watercraft project inspired the staff to apply the same process to the ever-changing landscape of rental properties in the area, with the goal of correcting the same inequities and missing data that existed in rentals.

“We do these personal property projects annually now,” he said. “I don’t see demand for imagery ever decreasing—I just see more ways to use it.”

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