The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Some property values up
The taxable value of many homes in Stafford and Spotsylvania counties is up this year as reassessments reflect the housing market’s gradual comeback.
But the increases aren’t nearly as high as they were during the boom of the early-to-mid-2000s, when many homes more than doubled in value.
“We seem to finally be bouncing back from the downturn in the market, and the economy is getting a little better,” said Stafford Commissioner of the Revenue Scott Mayausky.
Stafford and Spotsylvania counties reported single-digit percentage increases to the assessed value of residential property. The assessments are based on home sales in 2012 and 2013.
Localities often lower real estate tax rates in response to higher property assessments, so the news doesn’t necessarily mean a resident’s tax bill will go up.
Meanwhile, the value of King George County homes dipped slightly, but land values didn’t drop, Commissioner of the Revenue Jo Ann Ando said.
Spotsylvania and King George already have mailed assessment notices to residents, and Stafford expects to do the same in early February.
Stafford and Spotsylvania reassess property every two years while King George does it every four years.
The taxable value of Spotsylvania’s residential property has increased by an average of 5 percent since the 2012 reassessment, according to Commissioner of the Revenue Debbie Williams.
That’s the first increase since the 2008 reassessment, when values shot up by an average of 16.1 percent. In 2012, residential property assessments decreased by an average of 2.2 percent.
The median home value in Spotsylvania is now $195,900, or $13,300 more than it was two years ago.
Commercial assessments went the other direction, decreasing by an average of 2.9 percent this year as many storefronts remain vacant.
Al King, a new member of the county’s Board of Equalization, said it looks like Spotsylvania got the assessments right. “Frankly, this is exactly what I would have expected directionally,” said King, who ran for commissioner of the revenue in 2011.
Still, he said he thinks a significant number of commercial property owners may appeal their assessments. “I guess the real question is, if they reduced the average commercial assessment, did they reduce it enough?” King said. Commercial property values dropped by an average of 9.4 percent in 2012
Supervisors Chairman David Ross said he thinks the county will lower the current real estate rate of 88 cents per $100 of assessed value given the results of this year’s assessment. He said it’s too soon to know what that rate will be.
On Feb. 11, County Administrator Doug Barnes will present his proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
King said he wouldn’t be surprised if the equalized rate is 86 cents per $100 of assessed value, or two cents less than the current levy. An equalized rate would generate approximately the same amount of revenue as the previous tax rate.
The total value of residential property in Spotsylvania this year is $10.3 billion, up from $9.7 billion in 2012. Commercial property is worth $2.6 billion, the same as in 2012.
Property owners have until Feb. 12 to appeal their assessments to the county. They also have until April 30 to file an appeal with the five-member Board of Equalization, all of whom were appointed by the Board of Supervisors.
For more information, call the county’s Office of Real Estate Assessments at 540/507-7777.
KING GEORGE COUNTY
King George is still waiting for the full report from its assessors, said Ando, the revenue commissioner. While residential values dropped, she said the value of commercial property stayed the same or rose slightly.
After the 2010 reassessment, property values dropped to the point that the tax rate had to be raised from 45 cents to 50 cents per $100 of assessed value to generate the same amount of revenue as before the assessment.
Ando said it’s too early to know what the equalized rate will be this year.
Residents who want to appeal their assessments have until March 31 to schedule a meeting with the Board of Equalization. They can call 540/775-4664 to make an appointment.
Ando said assessors reported seeing new construction as they traveled the county, which she found encouraging.
“The market is not coming back as fast as I think everyone would want it to,” she said. “It takes a long time to break it, so it takes a long time to fix it.”
Assessed values of properties are higher across the board in Stafford.
Houses and apartments saw the largest jump, up 8 percent from the 2012 reassessment.
Commercial property values are up 2 percent. They had declined in the 2012 reassessment.
Agricultural property values also increased by 3 percent—an indicator that development is picking back up. Values had fallen 11 percent in the 2012 reassessment.
The value of all taxable property in Stafford increased by about 6 percent, to $14.7 billion.
Mayausky, the commissioner of the revenue, will present the reassessment data to the Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s board meeting. Business scheduled for the snowed-out Jan. 21 meeting has been rescheduled to that day.
The median value of a single-family home is now $268,000, up from $248,000 in 2012.
The county’s current real estate tax rate is $1.07 per $100 of assessed value. The equalized tax rate would be $1.01.
In 2010, after the national housing bubble burst, the value of taxable real estate in Stafford dropped 23 percent.
This year’s 8 percent increase in residential property values doesn’t mean every house and property is valued higher, of course.
“The market affects each property differently,” Mayausky said. “Some are still staying relatively flat, and some are going up. I would assume based on the number, most are going up.”
Now that the assessment process has ended, Mayausky and his office will begin analyzing those numbers more.
Notices will be sent to Stafford property owners in late February. Appeals will be accepted in March.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
Taxable value of residential properties is up by an average of 5 percent since the 2012 reassessment.
Commercial property values decreased by an average of 2.9 percent.
The median single-family home value is now $195,900, or $13,300 more than it was in the 2012 study.
Taxable value of residential properties is up 8 percent from the 2012 reassessment.
Commercial property values climbed 2 percent. Agricultural property values increased by 3 percent.
The median single-family home value is now $268,000, up $20,000 from the 2012 study.
The county is still waiting for the full report from its assessors.
Jo Ann Ando, commissioner of the revenue, said home values were down slightly, but land values did not drop.
She said commercial property values appear to have stayed the same or increased slightly since the county’s 2010 reassessment.