City of Buffalo

What is a valid sale?

Valid property sales are considered arm's-length transactions between a willing buyer and a willing seller, both having full knowledge of the facts and neither being under any compulsion to act. New York State defines an arm's-length transaction as a real estate transaction in the open market freely arrived at by normal negotiations without undue pressure on either the buyer or the seller. Property sales not satisfying this criteria will not be represented on this website.

What is an Equalization Rate and How is it Calculated?

An equalization rate is the ratio of total assessed value to total market value of an assessing unit is determined by the NYS Office of Real Property Services on an annual basis.  It is used by the State to allocate aid to school districts and by Counties to apportion County taxes among municipalities.

Level of Assessment: The ratio of assessed value to market value in an assessing unit as determined by the assessor on an annual basis. It is used by the assessor in setting assessed values on a uniform basis.

Residential Ratio: The median ratio of assessed value to sale price of all "arms-length" residential sales occurring within an assessed unit during a one-year period (July 1 to June 30) as determined by the NYS Office of Real Property Services on an annual basis. It may used by homeowners in challenging the fairness of an assessed value in a Small Claims Assessment Review proceeding.

What do Assessors do?

The assessor is the official who estimates the value of real property within the municipalities’ borders. This value is converted into an assessment, which is one component in the computation of property tax bills.

The assessor maintains the assessment roll – the document that contains every property’s assessment. The physical description, or inventory, and value estimate of every piece of real estate in the municipality is kept up-to-date. The information contained on this site is taken from the Final Assessment Roll, filed on July 1st of every year. The assessment roll may be reviewed on-line or at Town Hall by appointment before the filing of the tentative assessment roll (May 1st each year). The only changes that can be made to the tentative assessment roll are through the formal grievance process with the Board of Assessment Review. After the Board of Assessment Review (BAR) has acted on assessment complaints and ordered changes, the tentative roll is made final (July 1st. each year).

Assessors are interested only in fairly assessing property in their assessing unit. If your assessment seems correct but your tax bill still seems too high, the assessor cannot change that. Complaints to the assessor or the Board of Assessment Review must be about how the property is assessed. Complaints about high taxes should go directly to the taxing jurisdiction, such as the town,village or city board, school board or county legislature, who set the tax rates. The assessor does not set tax rates.

Tips on Comparing Properties

In comparing properties to yours, it is important to remember that location, style, age and size are critical to the comparison process. You should review sales of similar homes in the same general area and of similar size, and make your adjustments from the sale price of that home. Waterfront properties should be compared with other Waterfront properties. If you are comparing other assessments of properties that have not sold, don't forget to check the data and make the necessary adjustments.

What is the Informal Review Process?

The Assessor's Office will continue to offer property owners the opportunity to discuss their assessment on an informal basis. If you feel your assessment is incorrect then you must provide the Assessor with reasonable information, based on market sales, that supports your opinion of market value. To make an appointment, please contact our office.

What is the Formal Review Process?

The Board of Assessment Review meets the fourth Tuesday of May (Grievance Day) each year to hear complaints on assessments. Written application to the Board of Review must be made on or before Grievance Day on forms prescribed by the New York State Office of Real Property Services.

Explanation of Tax Rates

Tax rates are determined by county legislatures, town and village boards and school districts. Simply, it is the amount of money which is in the annual budget divided by the total assessed value of the entire municipality or district. This gives a rate per thousand of assessed value.  The rate per $1000 of assessed value is multiplied by each property assessment minus any exemptions to generate a tax bill for each property.  Assessors have no influence or impact on determining budgets or their associated tax rates.