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City of Rochester

Frequently Asked Questions - Assessment

Property Information 

How do I find a Property's current Assessed Value, Exemptions, Ownership / mailing address, use, zoning, year built, square footage, lot size, bedroom/bath count, & taxes? 
Does Assessment have owners' phone numbers? 
Where do I get a copy of a Deed?  
How do I find, the previous owner’s name and the liber(book) / page of the last transfer of ownership?
Where do I get a copy of a survey or tape map?Where do I get a copy of the tax map?
How do I change the owner's name and or mailing address?

Who do I contact to buy a City-owned property?

Taxes 

How does the Assessment affect the property taxes I pay? What taxes are based on the Assessed Property Value?

What are the other taxes / fees on the Tax Bill? What are special district / frontage / refuse charges (roads, sidewalks, parking, medians, etc.)? How is the refuse charge determined? What is the Homestead Non-Homestead tax rate?
What is the Supplemental Tax?
Why does the Assessor’s staff inspect properties? What is looked at?
How long does an inspection take? Does the owner have to be present? Does the owner or resident have to allow the inspection?

Changing Assessments    

What do I do if I think the assessed value is wrong (that it does not reflect the market value), the property information is incorrect, or the exemption(s) is incorrect?
Can my Assessment possibly increase if I request a review?
How is the Assessed Value (Market Value) determined? What affects Market Value? Does the most recent sale price become the Assessed Value (Market Value)?
How often are properties reassessed?

Exemptions

Do homeowners who live on the property get a tax break? What is the STAR exemption? 
Are there Exemptions for Seniors, Veterans, and or the Disabled?
What are the application submission deadlines? Are there forms available online?
What can I do if my Exemption was denied?
Will improving my property raise the assessment and therefore the taxes? Is there a tax break if I fix up or improve my property? Are there exemptions for the Rehabilitation of Historic Properties?
Are there exemptions for Solar, Wind and Farm Waste Energy Systems?
Are there exemptions for Religious, Educational, Charitable, Hospital and Non-profit uses of properties? Do Clergy receive an exemption?
Can constructing living quarters for a parent or grandparent qualify for an exemption?
What exemptions are available for Business Investments in property? Are there any other Economic Development Incentives?

Important Exemption Facts

Remember: You MUST apply for any exemption by February 1st

  • For information and instructions:
    Call the Bureau of Assessment exemption hotline at (585) 428-6994
    or stop by the office at City Hall, 30 Church St., Room 101A.
  • For a list of the most common Rochester Exemptions:
    • click here for Residential property exemptions,
    • or here for Commercial and all other types of property exemptions.
  • For a detailed online explanation about all Exemptions that may be available in New York State click here for NYS ORPS Website Links.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions: Property Information

How do I find a Property's current Assessed Value, Exemptions, Ownership / mailing address, use, zoning, year built, square footage, lot size, bedroom/bath count, & taxes?    Up Arrow

Property information can be found online by using the links below, or you may call the Bureau of Assessment during office hours at (585)428-7221.

Click here to search for City of Rochester Properties Online

From the property search menu, select to search by SBL number or street address. After searching for the address click the “TAX” button to see the following details for each property:

  • Owner Name(s)
  • Assessment
  • Exemptions
  • Total Value
  • Use
  • Zoning
  • Year Built
  • Square Footage
  • Rooms
  • Beds
  • Baths
  • Lot Size
  • Zoning
  • Photo
  • City / School Taxes

For a breakdown of square footage by floor or for commercial use please call (585) 428-7221.

An Aerial Map and Photo are also available by clicking the “Map” globe button.

Owners’ mailing addresses (which may be different than the property address) are not listed on the City’s Online Data Base, but are available on Monroe County’s Property Information System (“Real Property Portal”) - just Click Here , follow the prompts, select the “Pay / View Taxes Online Button, and enter a property address.

Or call the Bureau of Assessment during office hours at 428-7221 for the owner’s name and official mailing address.

Does Assessment have owners' phone numbers?    Up Arrow

Assessment does NOT have property owner phone numbers.

Where do I get a copy of a Deed?    Up Arrow

DEEDS and MORTGAGES can be searched online by Liber / Page numbers or Names at the Monroe County Clerks Website For Online Searches or call (585) 753-1600.

How do I find, the previous owner’s name and the liber(book) / page of the last transfer of ownership?    Up Arrow

The current DEED usually states the previous transfer including the liber and page number of that transaction. The Monroe County Clerks Website For Online Searches allows liber and page searches for deeds to discover the chain of ownership.

Assessment has only information on the liber and page of the most recent transaction and the prior owner’s name. Call (585) 428-7221 during office hours for this information.

Where do I get a copy of a survey or tape map?    Up Arrow

Survey or Tape Maps, showing the boundaries of properties, and the outlines of structures, are often provided when finalizing the transfer of a property. In this region, this transfer event is often referred to as the “closing”, especially if mortgage financing is finalized at the same time. If it is not bundled with the “closing” documents, consult with the attorney(ies) or the lender involved, to obtain a copy. Or if known, contact the surveyor.

Where do I get a copy of the tax map?    Up Arrow

Tax maps show the outlines of the property for taxing purposes. This map shows only the property boundary outlines with the dimensions and the section, block, and lot numbers. A small fee is charged per page for copies. Call (585) 428-7221 during office hours for this information.

A boundary line overlay with an aerial photo is available on the City of Rochester website by clicking the "Property Information" link, searching by address, and then by clicking the "Map" globe button.

How do I change the owner's name and or mailing address?    Up Arrow

The owner's name is taken directly from the most recent DEED used to transfer the property ownership. The County Clerk records the deeds first, resulting in an up to 6 week delay before Assessment can update ownership records. A CORRECTION DEED is the way to change any misspellings or incorrect ownership. Please contact a legal advisor. Call (585) 428-7221 if the Assessment records conflict with the DEED.

To change the owner's mailing address, or to combine mailings to one address, contact the Bureau of Assessment during office hours at (585) 428-7221.

Who do I contact to buy a City-owned property?    Up Arrow

Click here to view available City owned properties online,
or phone the City’s Real Estate Office at (585) 428-6951.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions: Taxes

How does the Assessment affect the property taxes I pay? What taxes are based on the Assessed Property Value?     Up Arrow

The Assessed Value determines the tax distribution to a particular property. The Assessed Value is based on the Market Value. Changes to a property or the market area affect the purchase price that buyers and sellers would generally agree to. A city-wide Reassessment occurs when assessed values on average no longer reflect market values. Lately, Reassessments have occurred every 4 years to adjust values to reflect the various market changes throughout the City and the specific physical changes to properties.

For fairness, all properties are reviewed during a Reassessment and values adjusted accordingly to reflect market values as derived from recent, prior, comparable sales activity. Annually, during Non-Reassessment years, physical alterations to a property may warrant an Assessment review to reflect the changes in the property description. Exemptions may be available to reduce the amount of the Assessed Value when determining the tax obligation of a property / owner.

    • Click here for the TAX RATES PAGE which explains how to calculate City, School and County property taxes, as well as other property fees and the Homestead and Non-Homestead distinction.
        For a full discussion of the purpose and practice of Assessments, click here for links to website materials from ORPTS, the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services.
        For a list of common Residential Exemptions, click here.
        For a list of Commercial Exemptions click here.
        To view a list of all types of exemptions in New York State click here.
        
    • For a breakdown of Current City / School Taxes, click here. Under the “Property Search” menu select “street address”, type the address, click “search”, and then click the “Tax” button to the right of the street address. Or call (585) 428-6940.
  • To pay City / School Taxes online, click here.
  • For a breakdown of Current County Taxes, please call (585) 753-1200 or to search for the last County Tax Bill click here

What are the other taxes / fees on the Tax Bill? What are special district / frontage / refuse charges (roads, sidewalks, parking, medians, etc.)? How is the refuse charge determined? What is the Homestead Non-Homestead tax rate?     Up Arrow

Click here for the TAX RATES PAGE which explains how to calculate City, School and County property taxes, as well as other property fees and the Homestead and Non-Homestead distinction.

What is the Supplemental Tax?    Up Arrow

The Supplemental Tax is a means of recapturing taxes not paid, because the new owner was NOT eligible for the previous owner’s exemption that was deducted from the tax bill. This adjustment tax takes effect, if at the time of transfer (the date the deed is recorded) the new owner was not entitled to the prior owner’s exemption.  The transfer date may have occurred after the exemptions for the tax bill were filed.  On the next bill, the tax dollar value of that ineligible exemption, as calculated for the period of time from the recording of the deed date to the end of the fiscal year, is added to the regular tax bill.  Typically this occurs for the removal of Seniors and or Veterans exemptions, or the purchase by a private owner of a government or non-profit owned property.  This typically does NOT occur for the STAR owner/occupant exemption or the Business Investment exemption. The Supplemental Tax included on a tax bill can throw a tax escrow account into disarray, causing the escrow agent to request an increase in monthly escrow payment included in the “mortgage” payment.  Please contact the escrow agent and explain that this additional adjustment tax is a one time occurrence and not indicative of future tax obligations. 

A supplemental tax may be issued on the July City /School Tax Bill and depending on the exemption, also on the January County Tax Bill.

Why does the Assessor’s staff inspect properties? What is looked at?     Up Arrow

The Assessor’s Office maintains data on each parcel that would likely affect its market value. Such data includes the location and size of a parcel, the availability of access and utilities, the type and use of structures, and the physical characteristics and conditions of the structures. Typically for a residential property - after location - the total square footage, number of bedrooms / bathrooms, and general condition determine what buyers would pay when purchasing a property. Assessment staff reviews data to make sure it accurately reflects the property. Permit, sales and fire lists are reviewed to determine if inspections are necessary.

Owners are a critical source of information when they contact Assessment to update the property information. Included on most letters sent to the owner is the property data listed for the owner’s review. If the information may not be accurate, please call (585) 428-7221 to speak with an appraiser and to schedule an inspection if needed. Staff follow-up with the sales of properties to: match-up the sale prices with the conditions at the time of the sales, to determine if the transactions involved parties with other interests, and to discover any unusual circumstances.

A sale inspection is NOT to selectively reassess a property, but rather to place accurate valid sales into a data base for future reference during a city-wide reassessment. When an owner requests a value review, staff will often schedule an inspection to make sure comparisons are based on an accurate property description. Permits can indicate that the property / structure has physically increased or decreased resulting in an increase or decrease of value as well. In most cases adding an addition and or bathroom to a house would entice a buyer to pay somewhat more. Conversely the removal of garage in good condition might reduce the potential purchase price. Assessment follows up to keep the data accurate and update values when appropriate.

How long does an inspection take? Does the owner have to be present? Does the owner or resident have to allow the inspection?    Up Arrow

The typical interior inspection of a single family house takes 10 minutes or less. The owner does not have to be present as long as someone else could provide access such as a relative, tenant or property manager. Some inspections may occur without prior notice, but rather with just a knock on the door - especially if the permit describes exterior work. Letters pre-schedule most sales inspections. State regulations respect the rights of an owner to refuse an inspection. However, lack of access can place staff in the awkward position of trying to assume the physical characteristics of a property, leading to inaccurate data generating the value estimate.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions: Changing Assessments

What do I do if I think the assessed value is wrong (that it does not reflect the market value), the property information is incorrect, or the exemption(s) is incorrect?    Up Arrow

Click here.

Can my Assessment possibly increase if I request a review?    Up Arrow

Generally, NO.

The Assessment can only be left the same, as in the notice, or reduced by the staff or the Board of Assessment Review.

In very rare circumstances, a discovery of a substantial description or clerical error may lead to a correction of the value resulting in an increase.

How is the Assessed Value (Market Value) determined? What affects Market Value? Does the most recent sale price become the Assessed Value (Market Value)?     Up Arrow

The Assessed Value should reflect the Market Value of the property – what it would typically sell for if both the buyer and seller are reasonably informed and motivated. Everything that determines whether the typical buyer would purchase a property influences the value of the property. Of course as the old adage goes – Location, Location, Location – provides the biggest influence. The characteristics of structural improvements alter what buyers would pay, based on size, features, age, condition and utility.

For 1 to 3 family residences, generally speaking in our area, the Sales Comparison approach best estimates values. The subject property is compared to other properties that best approximate the location and features of the subject, and sold recently. During the review process distressed or atypical sales, such as foreclosures, institutional sales, estate sales or quit claim transfers are set aside, unless such sales best fit that property's particular situation. During comparison minor adjustments are made to reflect deviations from the subject in location, features or condition.

Other properties, which typically attract investor owners, are valued using the Income Approach where the likely potential net income generates a purchase value through a Capitalization Rate. Included in the Capitalization Rate is the market’s reaction to risk, the availability of other investments, the recapture of the investment and the return on the investment. Sales of similar investment properties can be researched to extrapolate Capitalization Rates as well as typical incomes and expenses. Owners can assist by providing leases and income / expense reports.

Unusual properties that do not sell that often, such as a Museum, may be valued using a Cost Approach. The cost to construct new is depreciated into a value based on the effective age of the property.

The most recent sale of a property sometimes may not be the best indicator of value. Sometimes someone finds a bargain, or for reasons specific to them decides to overpay. Testing the recent sale against other recent sales determines whether it reflects market activity. Also changes may have occurred after the sale, such as remodeling improvements or a fire. The most recent sale may have been influenced by the need of the owner to quickly sell the property with less concern about the value: foreclosure re-sales, estate settlements, and divorces. Sales may have been between related parties where price has atypical influences. In short, the Assessment must reflect the Market Value, not A Specific Sale Price Value.

How often are properties reassessed?     Up Arrow

Recently, to keep Assessments in line with Market Values, the City of Rochester has Reassessed every 4 years, including 2012. For fairness, all 67,000 properties are revalued at once.

Market values can fluctuate based on general area influences such as the economy, and or from more specific street influences, such as a local school closing. Assessments change in Non-Reassessment years as specific properties undergo physical changes.

For a more in depth discussion of the need for Reassessments, the process and the impacts; please click here to read the brochure.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions: Exemptions

Do homeowners who live on the property get a tax break? What is the STAR exemption?    Up Arrow

Basic STAR
For property which is the owner’s primary residence. There are no age requirements. The combined annual income of the residing owners and spouses cannot exceed $500,000 - the NYS Dept. of Taxation will confirm income eligibility. Basic STAR reduces the Taxable Assessed Value for both City and School Taxes, but not for County Taxes. Submit the application by February 1st. Click here for more details and an application.

Are there Exemptions for Seniors, Veterans, and or the Disabled?    Up Arrow

YES! The following exemption are available, Click here for full details.

  • Enhanced STAR - for seniors or surviving spouses
  • Senior Citizens - for seniors or surviving spouses
  • Veterans - for veterans or unmarried surviving spouses
  • Disabled

Submit any and all Exemption Applications to the Bureau of Assessment by February 1.

What are the Exemption application submission deadlines? Are Exemption forms available online?    Up Arrow

Submit all applications by February 1 for the exemptions to take effect on the upcoming City / School Tax Bill. The County Tax Bill that follows depends on the exemptions in place on the previous City/School Tax Bill. . Please note that the surrounding Towns in the area have deadlines different from the City. Ignore newspaper articles discussing Town deadlines when dealing with City of Rochester Property Assessments.  Submit the application to the City of Rochester Bureau of Assessment.Click here for the mailing address, and for the Exemption Hotline phone number if there are any questions.

There may also be deadlines, after the application is reviewed, for requested documentation. You will be notified by mail if any documentation or clarification is required.

  • For a list of the most common Rochester Exemptions and related forms, click here.
  • For a detailed online explanation about all Exemptions that may be available in New York State including forms and instructions, click here.

What can I do if my Exemption was denied?    Up Arrow

The same process available for disputing an Assessed Value is also used for contesting the denial of an Exemption. You can call the Exemption Hotline at (585) 428-6994 for further information on the denial.

You can ask the Board of Assessment Review (BAR) to review the denial. You must submit the proper application BY THE THIRD TUESDAY IN MARCH, 8 p.m. (EST), to the BAR and the Bureau of Assessment. If you are dissatisfied with the BAR decision other steps may be available to you. Follow the link below for a more detailed outline of the process.

Click here for more information about how to contest the denial of an exemption.

Will improving my property raise the assessment and therefore the taxes? Is there a tax break if I fix up or improve my property? Are there exemptions for the Rehabilitation of Historic Properties?    Up Arrow

It stands to reason that in most situations, improving a property by putting it into better condition, upgrading significant features, or adding on to it would increase its value and command a higher price if it were put up for sale. Since the Assessed Value is based on the Market Value, if the likely sale price increases the Assessment should increase as well.

To prevent this from being a disincentive to improvements, the City adopted a Capital Improvement Exemption that gradually rolls in any increase in value due to the improvements, instead of all at once. But you must apply for it to take effect.

Are there exemptions for Solar, Wind and Farm Waste Energy Systems?    Up Arrow

An exemption was recently adopted for property that contains a solar, wind, or farm waste energy system meeting the requirements approved by the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority. This exempts for 15 years any increase in value attributed to the energy production of the system and not for other dual uses such as living or office space. This applies in general to systems constructed since 1990. For more details on the technical specifications and construction dates refer to the design requirements booklet.  NYS RPTL 487.  Applies to City, School and County Taxes.

Are there exemptions for Religious, Educational, Charitable, Hospital and Non-profit uses of properties? Do Clergy receive an exemption?    Up Arrow

Religious, Educational, Charitable, Hospital, and Other Nonprofit
Property must be owned by the nonprofit organization seeking the exemption. It cannot be owned by individuals, profit-making corporations, or other non-exempt groups. The property must be used for tax exempt purposes. (Applies to City, School and County Taxes.)

Clergy
For a residence owned by a clergy person (or unmarried surviving spouse) who is engaged in the work assigned by the church or denomination of which they are a member.  

Can constructing living quarters for a parent or grandparent qualify for an exemption?    Up Arrow

This exemption may reduce the County Tax, click here for details.

What exemptions are available for Business Investments in property? Are there any other Economic Development Incentives?    Up Arrow

The following exemptions ARE available, click here for details:

  • Conversion Urban Exemption Program (CUE) for Center City Living (485-a)
  • Business Investment Exemption (485-b)
  • Core Housing Owner Incentive Exemption (CHOICE)
  • Helpful Links including: NYS ORPS, Rochester and County Economic Dev. Depts., and COMIDA

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