WWCA Neighborhood Statistics
The Arlington County Assessor maintains a database of properties in Arlington County. This is the database you access if you go to the Assessor's web page and click on "Online Assessments." A snapshot of the database is made in late February each year, and made available to the public. The information provided here came from the 2005 snapshot.
Recent Assessment History
The database contains assessments of all properties for the past five years. There are about 550 houses in our assessment neighborhood. This first chart shows how total assessments have changed since 2001; to keep the clutter down, only three of the five years are shown. The chart shows the percent of properties assessed at ranges of values. For example, in 2001 about 55 percent of WWCA properties -- more than half -- were assessed at between $250,000 and $300,000. By 2005 about 60 percent were assessed between $500,000 and $600,000, double the 2001 number.
Not surprisingly, because of our location in the county, WWCA properties are assessed at more than the average Arlington property. For comparison, the next chart shows the equivalent data for all of Arlington County properties that are zoned R-6 (almost all of WWCA is zoned R-6; a few properties are R-8). There is naturally more spread in the Arlington data, which covers all neighborhoods, so the peaks are lower, but the general trend from 2001 to 2005 is the same.
Land Assessment History
Assessments are split into land and improvements (houses). In much of the U.S. the house is worth more than the land it sits on. In Arlington, however, the land is worth much more than the house -- at least if the house is relatively old, which most of ours are. This next chart shows the assessed value of lots in WWCA. Because most of our neighborhood is zoned R-6, the lots fall within a fairly narrow range of sizes, so there is a sharp peak in the assessed value. It's apparent that the jump in total assessment over the years is primarily due to the jump in land values.
House Assessment History
The other part of total assessment is "improvements," which in residential areas means houses. This chart shows the assessment trend over the past five years. The shift is not as pronounced as for land. In fact, during 2002-2004, there was little change in house assessments.
Lot Sizes and Assessments
As mentioned, most of WWCA is zoned R-6, which generally implies a lot size of around 6,000 sq ft. But lots vary, as shown in this chart. There are a number of lots between 5,000 and 6,000 sq ft -- explainable by the fact that the original subdivisions were built before the current zoning ordinance came into effect. There are also a significant number of lots between 7,000 and 9,000 sq ft, about one quarter of the total in WWCA. Ones we have been particularly concerned about recently are those greater than 12,000 sq ft, which would theoretically allow them to be split into two R-6 lots. About 3 percent of WWCA properties fall into this category.
The assessed value of a lot generally increases with its size, although not linearly, as shown in this next chart (very small and very large lots have been left off the chart). What's interesting is that there are two distinct sets of data -- one set of properties was assessed (in 2005) at $40,000 less than similarly sized properties in the other set. The reason for this appears to be that properties on or very near streets with heavy traffic receive a discount. So if you live on a major thoroughfare, like George Mason Drive, Washington Blvd, 16th St N, or the portion of N Edison next to the hospital, your land assessment is about 10 percent less than those who live on quieter streets.
House Sizes and Assessments
Just as we did for land, we can take a look at the distribution of house sizes in WWCA. It should come as no surprise that most houses, almost 80 percent, are between 1,000 and 2,000 sq ft in finished size. About 15 percent are larger, either because they were remodeled considerably, or because they are relatively new.
House assessments increase as house sizes increase, as shown in this chart. There are no separate "sets" of houses, as there are for lots on major streets, since it's the location (land) that reduces the value, not the house. Houses over about 2,500 sq ft, however, do show more variation in their assessed values than smaller houses. Some of these are annotated on the chart, along with the year built or remodeled. The reason for the variation in assessments of these larger houses isn't clear.
Year Houses Were Built
To round things out, this chart shows when the houses in WWCA were built. About three quarters were built between 1931 and 1940, about a third in 1937 alone, during the depression. Most of the rest were built during WWII or just after, filling up almost all the available lots.