A house for sale in the Rucker Hill area of Everett in May. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

A house for sale in the Rucker Hill area of Everett in May. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Overall property value increases 5.5% in Snohomish County

In the assessor’s annual accounting, Lakewood School District residents saw the biggest average uptick: 8.1%.

EVERETT — The housing market is up yet again in Snohomish County, according to an annual assessed values report, but the increase is the lowest in years.

Countywide, property value grew 5.5% overall. Residential property values increased 5.4% and commercial properties saw a 5.7% bump. Assessed-value notices were mailed by the county assessor to property owners on Tuesday. They are used in calculating next year’s taxes.

“It is reflective of what the sales show us,” Assessor Linda Hjelle said. “We analyze all the sales in Snohomish County over the year, and this is what the results come out to be.”

Following banner years of increases of greater than 11% in 2017 and 2018, total property value increases have been more modest in the years since. This year’s increase is the lowest since property values decreased by 5.8% in 2012.

“There becomes a tipping point between affordability and inflation,” said Courtney McClasky, a broker with Keller Williams Everett.

Affordable housing — properties worth $350,000 or less — was a concern of Hjelle’s in 2019. That segment continued to see an increase in property values as the market remained competitive. But most sales were at a higher price point.

“The buyers in the market are different than in the prior year in that they are looking for the mid-range homes in the $500,000 (range), versus just the bulk of the sales being in the lower-range home or affordable housing,” Hjelle said.

In a sample size of 11,500 sales last year, the average in Snohomish County was estimated to be $530,000, with a median around $490,000.

Across the county, the Lakewood School District saw the highest property value increase, of 8.1%, followed by Arlington and Darrington at 7.2%. The Northshore School District had the lowest value increase, 2.7%, a dramatic change after an 11.5% increase in 2019.

McClasky said from her experience in Snohomish County, people are transplanting to more rural communities along the I-5 corridor, where they can get more bang for their buck.

“They are just pushing farther north, because of the affordability,” she said.

In total, residential properties in the county are valued at nearly $124 billion, a $6.3 billion increase over last year. Commercial properties total almost $41 billion, a more than $2 billion increase from last year.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic was not assessed in the 2020 report, which is based on a property’s value as of the Jan. 1 assessment date.

“These values are set before the coronavirus took effect strongly in Washington state,” Hjelle said.

While it is too early to forecast the significance of the pandemic on property values, Hjelle said, sales in April and May showed a 2% to 4% increase in property values since January. That’s a trend other assessors have corroborated statewide.

“The markets are still active,” Hjelle said. “The people who have the money to buy property are willing to pay a price for it.”

Sixty percent of average property taxes go to education, with the remainder distributed to cities, counties, fire protection and other public services.

Homeowners have 60 days after the assessment notice is mailed to appeal to the county’s Board of Equalization if they have evidence to challenge the assessed value of their property.

Exemption programs exist for senior citizens and individuals with disabilities who are concerned about paying their property tax. More information is available on the assessor’s website at snohomishcountywa.gov/assessor.

Appraisers will now spend months tallying new construction and adding it to the property assessment total.

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

Ian Davis-Leonard reports on working class issues through Report for America, a national service program that places emerging journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. To support Ian’s work at The Daily Herald with a tax-deductible donation, go to www.heraldnet.com/support.

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