Snohomish County property values have broken the $100 billion mark and continue to soar, the county assessor announced Monday.
New property value assessments are in the mail, and average 17 percent higher than last year for homeowners, county Assessor Cindy Portmann said.
“Snohomish County values seem to be holding pretty steady and still increasing in spite of some areas of the state saying there is slower growth,” Portmann said.
Property values countywide are pegged at $105.5 billion, including nearly 273,000 homes and businesses. The value is nearly twice as much as in 2003, when it was announced that the county was worth $57 billion.
Values are driven by the region’s job growth, Portmann said. Also, the housing market here is hot – driven by King County homebuyers looking for a bargain, Portmann said.
Compared with last year, the rise in value wasn’t as sharp. Property owners saw an average 23 percent bump last year.
For property owners, the letter from the assessor is a blend of pleasure and pain.
It’s nice to see a jump in property values – especially if you’re planning on selling.
For others, higher property values can mean higher taxes – especially if local taxing districts increase the tax rate, or voters tax themselves for school or transportation measures.
Officials are bracing for the phone calls once people open their new property assessments, Portmann said.
“We have all hands on deck answering phones, returning e-mails,” Portmann said. “There’s a freeze on vacation time this time of year.”
The assessor released property value increases by school district. Individual values will be different from the reported averages.
Properties in the Edmonds School District are now worth $24.8 billion, an increase in value of $3.1 billion, leading the county.
Go a little farther north and properties in the Everett School District are worth $18.8 billion, more than $2.5 billion higher than last year.
Properties within the Index School District are worth a scant $166 million by comparison, and posted an 11 percent rise, the county’s slowest increase.
The biggest percentage increases were seen for properties in the Stanwood School District (23.4 percent), Lakewood School District (21.8 percent) and Lake Stevens School District (20.7 percent.)
Appraisers use nearby property sales to calculate the rise in property values. County staff physically inspect a fraction of the properties in the county each year, and estimate the increase for the remaining properties.
“We encourage property owners, if they have questions or concerns, to call my office and talk to an appraiser before they file an appeal,” Portmann said. “It may not be necessary to file an appeal.”
The latest values will be used to calculate property taxes in 2008. Portmann is emphatic when she says that a rise in property value doesn’t directly correlate to a rise in property taxes.
“A good portion of property taxes paid are voter-approved, about 40 to 45 percent,” she said. Local taxing districts, including the county, cities and utility and school districts, dictate what tax collections will be, Portmann said.
Property owners have 60 days to file an appeal challenging the value given by the assessor.
To see how homes in your neighborhood are valued, go to www.snoco.org and search for “scopi” (Snohomish County Online Property Information.)
Seniors and disabled people can qualify for tax exemptions and have their property values frozen.
To speak to the assessor’s office about a property value, call 425-388-6555. To challenge an assessment, call the county Board of Equalization at 425-388-3407.