Low sales make predicting values difficult

Last updated: September 10. 2013 1:11PM - 780 Views
Keith Strange Civitas Media

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DOBSON — While the county’s board of commissioners has told the tax department to continue planning for a 2016 revaluation, Tax Director Michael Hartgrove said he is concerned that the low number of property sales this year is going to make a reassessment of county property values difficult.

Addressing the board last Tuesday, Hartgrove called sales 20 months out from the last revaluation in 2012 “precipitous in decline.”

“At this point following the last revaluation in 2008, we had 1,122 sales,” he told the board. “Right now we only have 623 sales.”

That low number of sales means assessors don’t have an adequate sample to project the next revaluation, he said.

“That’s bad because we depend on that representative sample of properties sold in the county to determine how the revaluation is going to go,” he said. “If I was going to evaluate the kinds of cars going through an intersection and had 2,000 of them go through there, I could probably determine the kinds of cars that are traveling through there daily. Right now, we don’t have enough of a sample to establish a pattern of how property values are going in large chunks of the county.”

With more than 42,000 properties in the county, trying to mathematically predict the outcome using a 623-sale sample is nearly impossible, Hartgrove told the board.

“That’s one and a half percent of the number of the properties in the county, while in the past we’ve been dealing with five to seven percent as a sample,” he said.

The tax director told the board during the meeting that the decline in sales is getting “pretty alarming.”

“What we’re in now, we’re going to take a long time to come out of,” he said. “We’re in a market right now that I’ve never seen, and I don’t know whether we’ll see it the way it was again.”

But Hartgrove said while sales are down, other indicators show the county economy is stagnant rather than in decline.

“This is a very flat market with no movement,” he said. “It has not deteriorated and has not grown. While the low number of sales concerns me, I’m not that concerned with the overall market because the numbers don’t indicate a decline or decrease. Properties right now seem to be still right at market value.”

Which means that given the way things are right now, the county may not see any measurable change in the values of property or the amount of taxes assessed on them.

“We could have some people who are going to see an increase or decrease in the value of their homes, but given the sample we have right now and the low number of sales, overall we’re going to be the same value-wise,” Hartgrove said. “If we did the revaluation right now, there would be virtually no change in the county’s assessed property value.”

Reach Keith Strange at kstrange@civitasmedia.com or 719-1929.

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