Glossary of Assessor Terms


A.R.S.: Arizona Revised Statutes. Here is a link to the entire list. Title 33 and 42 contain the bulk of the statutes that apply to the Assessor's office.

Ad Valorem: Latin for "according to value". In Arizona, property taxation is based upon the "ad valorem" value of property. This system is predicated upon the belief that the owner of a high dollar property should be in a better position to bear a larger portion of the tax burden than the owner of a low dollar property.

Ad Valorem Tax: A tax levied in proportion to the value of the thing(s) being taxed.

Aerial photography: It is the photography of a part of the earth's surface taken by an aircraft-supported camera.

Amenity: A tangible or intangible benefit of real property that enhances its attractiveness or increases the satisfaction of the user, but is not essential to its use. Natural amenities may include a pleasant location near water or a scenic view of the surrounding area; man-made amenities include swimming pools, tennis courts, community buildings, and other recreational facilities.

Appraisal: The act or process of estimating value; an estimate of value. An analysis, opinion, or conclusion relating to the nature, quality, value, or utility of specified interests in, or aspects of, identified real estate.

Appreciation: Increase in value of property, in terms of money, from causes other than additions and betterments.

Approaches to Value: Systematic procedures used to derive value indications in real property appraisal. (See also: Cost Approach, Income Approach, and Sales Comparison Approach).

Appurtenance: Something that has been added or appended to a property and has since become an inherent part of the property. Usually passed with property when title is transferred.

Area ID: A large geographical area defined by natural, man-made or political boundaries having similar social, economic and demographic characteristics for single family residences, comprised of a smaller geographic sub area that may have similar types of homes or share important location or market characteristics.

Arm's-Length Transaction: A sale between two unrelated parties, each of whom is reasonably knowledgeable of market conditions and under no undue pressure to buy or sell.

Asmt Ratio: See Assessment Ratio

Assess: To place a value on property for tax purposes.

Assessed Value: The monetary amount, which a property is entered on the assessment roll for purposes of computing the tax levy. It is derived by multiplying the appropriate Assessment Ratio by the Full Cash Value or the Limited Value.

Beginning with tax year 2015, the assessed full cash value is no longer being calculated.

Assessment Ratio: The ratio used to calculate the Assessed Value of the property. These ratios are governed by statute and determined according to the current use of the property based on their property class.

Assessment Roll: The official list of all property within the County assessed by the Assessor.

Board of Equalization: See State Board of Equalization.

Building Class: See Construction/building Class

Business Personal Property: Business Personal Property is assessable, and includes computers, supplies, office furniture and equipment, tooling, machinery and equipment. Most business inventory is exempt. (See Personal Property).

C.C. & R: Abbreviation for declaration of conditions, covenants, and restrictions document. A legal document typically recorded by the subdivision developer concurrently with the subdivision plat map. It lists the express assurance and limitation on land binding on all current and subsequent owners.

CAMA: See Computer-Assisted Mass Appraisal.

Casual Use Property: Common area property with a minimum of facilities used exclusively by project residents, their families and invited guests without restriction, subject to rules as established by the homeowner organization board of director, and at no additional cost or fee. It is not used commercially nor is there a paid staff to coordinate activities in this type property. A professional management company or other services may be hired to maintain and repair said property.

Change: The tendency of the social and economic forces affecting supply and demand to alter over time, thus influencing market value.

Characteristics: Data items that describe a property and/or improvement such as land size, property type, square footage, age, golf course, etc

Coefficient of Dispersion: A statistical measure of assessment uniformity for a category of property or for all property within a taxing jurisdiction. Also referred to as C.O.D.

Common Area: Land and improvements within a lot, parcel, or area for the beneficial use and enjoyment of all owners. The common area may be held by owners of lots or residential units as an undivided interest, owned in its entirety by a homeowners' association, or a combination of both.

Comparable(s): Properties used to illustrate, support, and or negate the Full Cash Value as arrived at by the Assessor's Office; also called "comps".

Complex: In real estate, a group of buildings, site improvements, and support facilities designed to carry out related activities in a single location; e.g., apartment complex, office complex.

Computer-Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA): A system of appraising property using computer-supported statistical analysis such as Multiple Regression Analysis.

Condominium: Ownership is mandated by statue and requires publication of a declaration creating the condominium (sometimes called a horizontal property regime). Fee tile to a condominium provides the owner with horizontal and vertical space as well as an undivided interest in other appurtenance, such as land, recreation facilities, exterior walls, roof, elevators, and basements. Known as common elements.

There are several types of condominiums: high-rise, walk-up, garden type, and commercial use.

Construction/Building Class: A construction rank used to group properties in a specific local. The class is determined based on the construction materials used, the architectural design and the workmanship of the home as it compares with other properties in the same area. These ranks range from 0 to 7 with 7 being the best. The rank for a typical home built today would be 3.

Cost Approach: The method of estimating the value of property by:

  1. Estimating the cost of construction based on replacement or reproduction cost new or trended historical cost (often adjusted by a local multiplier)
  2. Subtracting depreciation
  3. Adding the estimated land value. The land value is most frequently determined by the sales comparison approach

Current Use: The use to which property is put at the time of valuation by the Assessor.

Deed: A written, legal instrument (document) that conveys an estate or interest in real property when it is executed and delivered. (See also Quitclaim Deed and Warranty Deed).

Deed of Trust: A financial document similar to a mortgage, which conveys title (foreclosure power) to a trustee for the benefit of some other person (the lender), named in the document.

Deed Restriction: A limitation that passes with the land regardless of the owner; usually limits the property's type or intensity of use.

Depreciation: The loss in value from all causes to property, after construction or purchase.

Depreciation Schedules: Tables used in mass appraisal, which show the typical loss in value at various ages or effective ages for different types of properties.

Duress: Constraint by threat or coercion.

Economic district: A large geographical area identified by the uniqueness of its economics.

Economic Life: The period of time during which buildings or other improvements on a property are expected to contribute positively to the value of the total property. At the end of this period, the improvements are normally demolished and replaced. Also referred to, seen as Economic Years.

Economic Unit: A combination of parcels in which land and improvements are used for mutual economic benefit. An economic unit may be comprised of properties which are neither contiguous nor owned by the same owner. However, they must be managed and operated on a unitary basis and each parcel should create a positive economic benefit to the economic unit.

Effective Age: The typical age of a structure with respect to condition and utility, as of the appraisal date.

Equalization: The process by which an appropriate governmental body attempts to ensure that property under its jurisdiction is appraised equally at market value, or as otherwise required by law.

Estimated Market Value: Is the Assessor's estimate of what a property would sell for in an arm's length transaction. Market value is defined as the most probable price that a well-informed buyer would pay a well-informed seller for a property without either party being unduly pressured to buy or sell.

Factory-Built Building: "A residential or nonresidential building including a dwelling unit or habitable room thereof which is either wholly or in substantial part manufactured at an off-site location to be assembled on-site." This definition excludes manufactured housing, mobile homes, and recreational travel trailer vehicles. A.R.S. § 41-2142(14).

FCV: See Full Cash Value

Fee appraiser: An appraiser who is paid a fee for the appraisal assignments he or she performs.

Full Cash Value: The value determined annually using standard appraisal methods and techniques as determined by market values or by applying a method of valuation as prescribed by statute.

Prior to tax year 2015, full cash value was the basis for assessing, fixing, determining, and levying secondary property taxes. Beginning with tax year 2015, full cash value is no longer used for assessing, fixing, determining, and levying of secondary property taxes.

Geographic Area: An area for which common property valuation characteristics may reasonably be identified, such as a subdivision, neighborhood, market area, or an Assessor's book and map.

GIS: One type of computerized mapping system capable of integrating spatial data (land information) and attribute data among different layers on a base map. Also referred to as Geographical Information Systems.

Highest and Best Use: The reasonable, probable, and legal use of vacant land or an improved property, which is physically possible, appropriately supported, financially feasible, and that results in the highest value. The four criteria the highest and best use must meet are:

  1. legal permissibility
  2. physical possibility
  3. financial feasibility
  4. maximum profitability

Income Approach: Method by which the Full Cash Value is determined. This method determines value based on the parcel's (or parcels') anticipated future benefits.

Legal Class: See Legislative Class

Legal Description: A description of land that identifies the real estate according to a system established or approved by law; an exact description that enables the real estate to be located and identified. A description of real property sufficient to locate it on the ground by reference to government surveys or approved recorded maps. A property description constructed strongly enough to withstand legal challenge in court. (The Assessor's property descriptions are only generalized and condensed guides to tax parcel location. They are not legal descriptions.)

Legislative Class: A statewide classification system that places similar properties into legal classes based on their current use.

Lessee: One who has the right to use or occupy property under a lease agreement.

Lessor: One who conveys the right to use and/or occupy property under a lease agreement.

Lien: The legal right to take or hold property of a debtor as payment or security for a debt.

Limited Value: The value determined pursuant to A.R.S. § 42-13301.

Prior to tax year 2015, limited property value was the basis for assessing, fixing, determining, and levying of primary property taxes only.

Beginning with tax year 2015, limited property value is the basis for assessing, fixing, determining, and levying of both secondary and primary property taxes.

Limited Value Calculation: Prior to tax year 2015, the Real Estate Limited Value was based on the previous year's Limited Value increased by 10% or 25% of the difference between the Full Cash Value of the current year and the Limited Value of the prior year unless your property has been changed as defined in A.R.S. § 42-13302 since the previous year.

Beginning with tax year 2015, the limited value can only be increased by 5% over the previous year's limited unless your property has been changed as defined in A.R.S. § 42-13302 since the previous year.

For Personal Property, the Limited Value is the same as the Full Cash Value.

Livable Area: The living area of a house that is measured using exterior dimensions. Garages, porches and storage rooms are not included in this area. Enclosed areas, based on their access, usage and interior finish may be included in the square footage.

Manufactured Housing: Means a structure built June 15, 1976 or after, that is eight or more feet wide, and forty or more feet long, has a permanent chassis, is transportable in one or more sections, is equipped with complete plumbing, heating, and electrical systems from the factory, and is designed to be used with or without a permanent foundation as a dwelling when connected to on-site utilities. This definition excludes recreational travel trailers.

Manufactured housing is built in accordance with the National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974, and Title VI of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, per A.R.S. § 41-2142 (2 & 24). Federal regulations control both the design and construction of all manufactured housing.

Market Approach: Appraisal Method by which the Full Cash Value is determined using current sales values and then adjusting them for differences in property characteristics to arrive at a full cash value for the subject property.

Market Value: The highest price estimated in terms of money which property will bring if exposed for sale in an open market, allowing a reasonable time to find a purchaser who buys with knowledge of all uses to which it is adapted and for which it is capable of being used.

Mass Appraisal: The systematic appraisal of groups of properties, as of a given date, using standardized procedures and statistical testing.

Mobile Home: Means a structure, a structure built before June 15, 1976, that is transportable in one or more sections including the plumbing, heating, air conditioning and electrical systems contained in such a structure, which, when erected on site, is either greater than eight feet in body width, thirty-two feet or more in body length and built on a permanent chassis, or, that is used as a single-family dwelling or for commercial purposes with or without a permanent foundation, regardless of size. A.R.S. § 42-19151.

Multiple Regression Analysis: Explores and quantifies the relationship between two or more components of known and available data (sales prices and property characteristics) to predict a value.

Neighborhood: A smaller geographic sub-area that may be homogeneous or share important locational or market characteristics.

Notice of Value: This refers the Assessment Notice that is mailed to a property owner concerning changes in the Full Cash Value of the property. If property owners disagree with this change, they must request an informal hearing with the Assessor's Office within the specified time regarding any change.

Personal Property: Property that is not Real is Personal. Identifiable portable and tangible objects, e.g., furnishings, artwork, antiques, gems and jewelry, collectibles, machinery and equipment; all property that is not classified as real estate; including airplanes, boats, and business property such as computers, supplies, furniture, machinery and equipment. (Most business inventory, household furnishings, personal effects, and pets are exempt from taxation.). Main characteristic of Personal Property is its movability without damage to itself or the Real Estate.

Primary Property Taxes: Taxes derived for the maintenance and operation of school districts, cities, community college districts, counties, and the state. Calculated using the Assessed Limited Property Value.

Property Tax: An ad valorem tax issued by the government based on the assessed value of property.

Quitclaim Deed: A form of conveyance in which any interest the grantor possesses in the property described in the deed is conveyed (transferred) to the grantee without warranty of title.

Ratio Study: A study of the relationship between appraised values and market values. Indicators of market values may be either sales, or independent appraisals. The common interest in ratio studies is the level and uniformity of the appraisals.

Real Estate: The physical parcel of land and all improvements permanently attached. An identified parcel or tract of land, including improvements, if any.

Real Property: The rights, interests, and benefits connected with real estate.

Recorded Document: Any written instrument or judgment affecting the title or possession of real property submitted to the County Recorder and made of record by that office; includes Grant Deeds, Quitclaim Deeds, leases, contracts, and court decrees.

Replacement Cost less Normal Depreciation: It is the cost to replace an existing property with a property of equivalent utility minus normal depreciation.

Sales Comparison Approach: The method of estimating the value of a property based on an analysis of sales of similar properties. The sales comparison approach may be used to value improved properties, vacant land, or land being considered as though vacant; it is the most common and preferred method of land valuation when comparable sales data are available.

Sales Ratio Studies: Studies used by the Assessor's office as well as supervisory agencies such as the Department of Revenue to:

  1. determine and/or monitor acceptable appraisal performance
  2. determine reappraisal priorities
  3. develop market (time) adjustments
  4. future planning

Secondary Property Taxes: Taxes derived for bonds, budget overrides, and special districts such as fire, flood control, street lighting, and other limited purpose districts.

Prior to tax year 2015, the secondary property taxes were calculated using the assessed full cash value. Beginning with tax year 2015, secondary property taxes are calculated using the assessed limited property value.

Secured Personal Property: Personal property owned by someone who pledges Real Property as a guarantee of taxes on the Personal Property.

Site: A parcel of land improved for a specific use.

Square Footage: The living area of a house that is measured using exterior dimensions. Garages, porches and storage rooms are not included in this area. Enclosed areas, based on their access, usage and interior finish may be included in the square footage.

State Board of Equalization: The SBoE is an independent agency charged with hearing and deciding appeals of property valuations and classifications set by Maricopa and Pima County Assessors and the Department of Revenue. Board membership consists of seventeen members, seven of whom are appointed by the Governor. Ten additional members are appointed by the Board of Supervisors from Maricopa and Pima Counties. Contract Hearing Officers supplement the Board's hearings workload.

SFR: Single Family Residence

Tax: A compulsory contribution legally exacted from persons, corporations, and other organizations by a government, for the support of government and the maintenance of public services.

Tax Jurisdiction: A political subdivision where a governmental unit has the authority to levy taxes. Some examples of Tax Jurisdictions are school districts, fire districts, community college districts, cities and towns, counties, and irrigation districts.

Tax Levy: The total amount of money a Taxing Jurisdiction needs to raise through property taxation.

Tax Rate: The Tax Levy (budget set by each Taxing Jurisdiction) divided by the total equalized Assessed Valuation of that Taxing Jurisdiction.

Tax Year: The calendar year in which the taxes are levied.

Time-adjusted Sales Price: A common appraisal practice used to adjust the original sale price for the effects or changes in the market between the date of sale and the date of appraisal.

Townhouse: A single family, attached dwelling unit with common walls with common area facilities owned either as an undivided interest by the lot owners or by a homeowners' organization. It resembles a condominium unit but it was not created under A.R.S. Title 33.

Trust Deed: See Deed of Trust.

Unit of Comparison: A physical or economic measure that can be divided into the property's price to provide a more standardized comparison of properties, i.e. price per square foot or price per room/unit.

Unsecured Mobile/Manufactured Home: The owner of the home is different from the owner of the land on which the home is located. Homes in parks are the best example. There are two tax bills issued; one for the home and one for the land. The home has a title, which must be reissued through the Motor Vehicle Dept at time of sale.

Unsecured Personal Property: Personal Property is taxed separately from any Real Property and paid in a two payments.

Use Code: Categories into which property can be classified according to its use residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and special purpose.

Valuation: The Full Cash Value or Limited Property Value that is determined for Real or Personal Property.

Valuation Year: For real property, the calendar year preceding the year in which the taxes are levied. For personal property, the calendar year in which the taxes a levied.

Warranty Deed: A deed that conveys to the grantee title to the property free and clear of all encumbrances, except those specifically set forth in the document.

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