Property Values Likely To Increase With The Latest County Revaluation
If you own property in Mecklenburg County, chances are its official value is about to go up – way up. The County Assessor’s office is putting the finishing touches on the first countywide property revaluation in seven years. Initial data show that residential property values have jumped by an average of 40 percent, while the average increase in commercial property values soared by 78 percent.
Property owners will receive notices of the new values next month. But the impact on their property tax bills won’t be known until summer. County tax officials are hoping for a much smoother process than in the botched revaluation in 2011. Ken Joyner is Mecklenburg County’s Tax Assessor, and he joined me on All Things Considered.
Mark Rumsey: Let's start with these large increases in property values and average 40 percent for homeowners. Sticker shock seems like about the only appropriate phrase.
Ken Joyner: Well I think it is representative of the market. We're talking an eight-year period since the last revaluation. So our market in 2011 and through 2012 was a very low point. So our market has recovered and actually where we're at now, we are ahead of where we were prior to the recession back in '08.
Rumsey: Well, why have Mecklenburg home values jumped this much?
Joyner: Well, in our role we are appraising the market value so on each property we have an individual property characteristics database — square footage height, number of bedrooms and baths, floor covering, heating and air. We do break the properties down into neighborhoods, monitor the sales within those neighborhoods, come up with a most probable price and then we're using that individual properties characteristics database, we come up with that new assessed value.
Rumsey: So in terms of neighborhoods — older neighborhoods, newer neighborhoods — are there any trends there where you're seeing relatively larger or smaller increases? In some of the older neighborhoods, especially those closer to uptown Charlotte?
Joyner: In some of the older neighborhoods, especially those closer to uptown Charlotte. We have seen some large increases in their land values. You're seeing a lot of properties that are being torn down and new structures are being built on those where those neighborhoods are going through a transitional period. So, I think in those neighborhoods you are seeing some large increases in the land values, subsequently seeing some larger increases on the overall property.
Rumsey: I understand that it's not the job of your office to make policies about things like affordable housing. Yet, you have to be aware as you're doing these calculations that for example with an apartment complex those kinds of increases are almost certain to be passed along to some degree to renters. Is that in the mindset at all of the people in your office as they make these calculations, or is it just we're looking purely at the numbers?
Joyner: Well from our role the statutes are very clear that it's our responsibility to hit that market value calculation. So, our office is really looking at more of that, what is the value of the property. I think our governing bodies, the city-county administration, the other municipal administrations, they're really better suited for those other roles and trying to determine that because we have to stay the course and follow the statute on all of our properties to keep it consistent and fair throughout the county.
Rumsey: And Mr. Joyner, following Mecklenburg County's last major property revaluation eight years ago, thousands of property owners disputed their new values and the county ultimately paid about $100 million dollars in refunds due to mistakes in the revaluation process. You were not the assessor at that time. Could this happen again or what is being done to make sure that it won't?
Joyner: We're going to have the ability to allow 24/7 access to our database and for someone to start a review process. We're also going to be set up to where we can take walk-ins if someone walks into our office after they get their notice. We're going to try to get them in with an appraiser that day to sit down and talk about the information. We have instilled with our staff that when they are working with a citizen not only are they educating the citizen on how we went about doing the process, but they can be educated as well because no one knows that property better than that property owner. The county commissioners, county administration, has given us resources and I am quite confident that the 2019 revaluation will in no way resemble what happened back in 2011.
Rumsey: Ken Joyner is Mecklenburg County's tax assessor. Thank you very much for talking with us.
Joyner: Thank you, Mark.