SPOTSYLVANIA REAL ESTATE VALUES DECLINE
BY JEFF BRANSCOME
Related: Prominent local homebuilder says home prices have bottomed out.
The assessed value of commercial property in Spotsylvania County has dropped 9 percent since 2010, based on the just-completed countywide reassessment.
Residential real estate assessments decreased 2.2 percent—far less than the 28 percent decline during the last reassessment two years ago.
The county mailed nearly 60,000 notices to Spotsylvania property owners on Tuesday. Those who disagree with their assessments may appeal them by Feb. 7.
The total assessed value of Spotsylvania’s 2012 taxable real estate—excluding new construction—is about $12.2 billion, which is a 3.75 percent decrease from the 2010 reassessment, Commissioner of Revenue Debbie Williams said in an email. Residential property is about 79 percent of the land book.
Danny Pemberton, president of the Spotsylvania Landowners Association, said he hadn’t received his latest assessment Wednesday, but thinks a 2 percent overall decrease in residential properties doesn’t reflect what homes are selling for.
“I still think they’ve got it entirely too high,” he said.
He said he hopes the Board of Supervisors, which has four new members, sets a tax rate lower than the equalized rate of 90 cents per $100 of assessed value. That rate, calculated by county officials, is 4 cents more than the current rate.
The equalized tax rate is the levy necessary to generate the same annual revenue for the county. A penny on the tax rate raises about $1.17 million in revenue.
Despite the overall drop in residential property values, some homeowners could still pay slightly more in taxes this year.
For instance, a resident who owns a $190,000 home, which is the median price of Spotsylvania homes sold in December, paid $1,634 in 2011. If that home’s assessed value decreased by this year’s overall drop of 2.2 percent, the bill would be $1,672—or $38 more—if the county approves the equalized rate.
County Administrator Doug Barnes, who will present his proposed budget Feb. 14, said he won’t recommend a levy higher than the equalized rate.
“Some will see a decrease [in taxes under the equalized rate], some will see an increase, some will stay about the same,” Barnes said. “I’d like to break it out to see what those percentages are.”
Other area localities are reassessing real estate as well. Stafford County is scheduled to mail out assessments next month.
Spotsylvania supervisors approved a levy 3 cents higher than the equalized rate after the 2010 reassessment. The assessed value of commercial property increased by 0.29 percent that year, which meant most business owners saw bigger tax bills.
“We got clobbered,” said Fitz Johnson, president of Johnson Realty Advisors.
Johnson and other commercial property owners have complained that the market value of their real estate is much less than the assessed value. The 2012 reassessment’s 9 percent decline in commercial values isn’t enough to close the gap, he said.
“They’re still way off,” he said. “They were way off in their last assessment and were stubborn enough not to understand the market.”
Jud Honaker, president of commercial development for the Silver Cos., said market values have decreased far more than 9 percent during what he called a real estate depression.
“It’s a huge job to assess that many different parcels in the amount of time they have to do it and get it right,” he said. “I think that leaves a lot of variation in what you see between assessed values and real values.”
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
Spotsylvania County property owners have until the end of business on Feb. 7 to appeal their assessments. Appeal forms are available:
Online at spotsylvania.va .us/departments.
Salem Church Library, 2607 Salem Church Road.
Snow Library, 8740 Courthouse Road.
County clerk’s office (Deed Room), 9107 Judicial Center Lane.
Commissioner of revenue’s office on the first floor of the Holbert Building, 9104 Courthouse Road.
Office of Real Estate Assessments (540/507-7777) on the second floor of the Holbert Building.