EVERETT — A steady demand for less expensive housing continues to drive up property values in Snohomish County.
Home values climbed an average 12.2 percent across the county since a year ago, while commercial properties went up by 8.8 percent, according to the Snohomish County Assessor’s Office.
Annual assessment notices went out Friday to owners of roughly 300,000 parcels. The amounts are used in calculating property taxes that will be due in 2019.
Manufactured homes located in mobile-home parks recorded the largest increase, a whopping 23 percent, while those outside parks rose 14 percent. Condominium values climbed 17 percent while apartment complexes, which are counted as commercial properties, climbed 11 percent.
“The one thing that stands out for me is the continued pressure on the affordable housing option,” Assessor Linda Hjelle said. The large increase, she said, will unfortunately add to the challenge those owners face in meeting their property tax obligations.
Property values in Snohomish County, which plummeted in the Great Recession, started to rebound in 2013. They have climbed higher for six straight years.
Almost all areas of the county registered increases between 10 and 13 percent. Real estate in the Sultan School District went up the most, 13.8 percent, followed by those in the Northshore School District, which includes Bothell, which rose 13.1 percent. The smallest year-over-year increase of 8.9 percent was recorded in Stanwood.
Assessed values lag behind the actual market, as they are based on property sales in 2017. State law specifies how the mass appraisals are calculated. And, the change in assessed value can vary a lot depending on property location, zoning and condition.
Homeowners can petition the county’s Board of Equalization if they have evidence to refute the assessor’s value.
Countywide, the combined value of residential property is $106 billion, about $11.5 billion more than in 2017. Commercial properties totaled nearly $35.1 billion, some $2.8 billion more than a year ago.
Typically, a higher assessment means a bigger tax bill next year.
But many owners could actually get a little relief in 2019.
It will be due to changes in tax laws made by legislators and Gov. Jay Inslee in response to the McCleary school funding lawsuit. Those changes involve reducing the rates for the local and state levies used to help fund public schools.
“I think the potential is there, at least for the tax obligations for their local enrichment levies,” Hjelle said. Whether this results in lower property tax bills “still depends on what is voted on between now and the end of the year.”
More than half of the average property-tax bill goes to schools. The rest pays for county and city services, fire protection and other special service districts, including Sound Transit in some areas.
In 2017, lawmakers and the governor increased the statewide property tax rate by roughly 82 cents for every $1,000 of assessed value. It will enable the state to provide more dollars to school districts. It took effect this year and contributed to a startling surge in tax bills.
In the meantime, this year lawmakers approved a one-time reduction of 30 cents in the same tax rate. It will apply only in 2019.
In addition, the state is now limiting how much school districts can raise through enrichment levies — formerly known as maintenance and operations levies. That limit is $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value.
This is a lower rate, in some instances significantly less, than what districts are now collecting. The lower rate kicks in starting in 2019. Thus when those two levy rates go down, owners could find themselves paying less in taxes next year.
People with questions about the new value of their property can call the assessor’s office before filing an appeal with the Board of Equalization. Call 425-388-6555 for residential properties and 425-388-3390 for commercial properties.
Petitions must be filed with the Board of Equalization within 60 days of when the notice was mailed. Forms and instructions are available by visiting www.snohomishcountywa.gov/134/Board-of-Equalization or calling 425-388-3407.
Property-tax exemptions are available for some homeowners, including senior citizens and people with disabilities. To learn more, visit www.snohomishcountywa.gov/328/Property-Tax-Exemptions or call 425-388-3433.