How does the County assess the value of single-family homes each year?

Your valuation is based off two things. First, is “replacement cost new, less depreciation.” We generate reports to determine what it would it cost you to build your home now with the price of materials, and then subtract the depreciation based on the year your home was built. We use a Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal System throughout the state, and 

Marshall and Swift updates construction costs and depreciation tables, input at the state level. The next step is to conduct a market adjustment based on sales in the area your home was built. We use this approach because two identical homes may cost the same to construct but may differ in value depending on where in the county the homes are located. We use these two processes added together to determine the new value of a home. We also have an income approach, but that is mostly used for commercial properties generating income.

How do you determine the market sales factor to adjust assessments?

We conduct a sales analysis every year, county-wide and submit it to the Arizona Department of Revenue (DOR) for review and approval, like all other counties in the state. This year’s date range for sales was June 30, 2021, then going back 18 months to capture all valid sales. 

How do you determine land valuations for adjusting assessments?

Land valuations are based on market sales; however, they include only land parcels without improvements. Once a year we look at all the land sales across the county and apply the adjustments to homeowners with some exceptions like agriculture land. Usually, only a few areas in the county will see a change on land valuations and they included Sonoita, Elgin, and Tubac where vacant land sells for high costs. 

If I wanted to file an appeal on my new assessment, how do I select good sales comps especially since homes in my area are custom built with many variables?

We are always happy to take appeals and we ask for one comparable, but one will probably not be enough, and I encourage you to find three to better support your case. The best factors to compare are the age of the home (year built) and the condition of the home (Average, Average Plus, Good, Excellent) and then use those sales to determine cost per square foot of the comps and your residence and find the average. Comps that are closer in square footage to your home are also better, but not always available and since we go by cost per square foot you may have to compare to a larger or smaller house but try to be close if possible. Comps need to be homes sold in the same assessment area as yours. If you had damage to your home, for example your garage roof blew off in a storm, please report it to our office and we will schedule a site visit to view the damage and make any adjustments. 

Any last advice?

Although property assessments create a baseline upon which taxes are calculated, please remember that Arizona Voters passed Proposition 117 so even if your property increased in value (for example) by 20%, your taxes will be calculated only on the Limited Property Value (LPV) and that can only increase by 5% each year. 

We are here to help and to be as fair as we can. Please remind people how important it is for us to have access to homes for our site visits. We try to review a number of properties across the county each year which is part of our responsibility. We also receive copies of all building permits, but we know some people build without a permit and do not report it to the county. If people hide assets from the county and do not pay their fair share of taxes, unfortunately that lost revenue becomes a bill for others in the county to pay. 

Recent Property Sales by Location for Tax Appeal Comparisons

This link – – will take you to a PDF containing information on house sales in nine geographic areas over the last 18 months The areas include Sonoita-Elgin, Sunset Knolls, Fort Critteden-Canyons-Honnas, Tunnel Springs, Patagonia Townsite, East of Hwy 82, Canelo, Lake Patagonia, Flux Canyon, and Thousand Oaks.

If you are not certain what section applies to you, please contact the Santa Cruz County Assessor’s Office at 520-375-8030. 

For additional information on how to use this information, please see the article “Appealing your Valuation” on page 7 in the March 2022 issue of the Patagonia Regional Times.