Property values continue to fall for most residential, commercial and industrial land in Monroe County, but the great depression in residential assessments may have hit bottom, local officials say.
“They still may be going down, but at a much slower rate than in 2007,” said Chris Renius, assessor for Bedford Township and five other townships in the county. “Agricultural land is the only sector going up. It’s tied to commodity prices for corn and soybeans, which are also on the rise, making more money for crops and making land more valuable.”
Property values fell again in 2011 for nine of the 15 townships in the county based on one-year or two-year studies of homes sales in those communities. The townships where the values rose were in Erie, Ida, LaSalle, Milan, Raisinville and Summerfield townships. All of the other townships showed a decrease in the residential class compared to 2010.
Overall, residential values in Monroe County fell an average of 2.3 percent last year, according to year-end equalization studies compiled by Michael Woolford, equalization director for the county. The figures are from Dec. 31, 2001, also known as “Tax Day” for assessors. “We’re leveling out,” Mr. Woolford said. “We’ve seen the downward spiral, but some prices have come up. It appears we’ve reached bottom. We’re seeing less foreclosed properties and person-to-person sales.”
Lower property assessments translate into lower taxes for most residents, but less revenue for government operations and services.
The county views all land sales and works with assessors to assure that the assessing process meets state law that requires assessments to be at 50 percent of true cash value, or market value, Mr. Woolford said. Any additions or improvements to homes are reflected in the new assessments that were mailed to property owners in late February. The county also checks to see if property was foreclosed or damaged in the foreclosure process, Mr. Woolford said.
“We don’t measure the market per se, we see what the market is doing,” he said. “We view all sales that happen and work with the assessors.”
Board of review hearings began this month in many communities, including Bedford, Berlin, Dundee, Exeter and Whiteford townships. Residents generally have to call ahead to make appointments to appeal their assessments. Each township has a board of review that hears appeals from citizens. Mr. Woolford said he visited about a half-dozen board hearings last week and found fewer citizens attending the sessions. No one attended a hearing in Frenchtown Township, he said.
“You can’t predict when citizens will protest,” he said. “Some years you expect big turnouts and you prepare the assessors, but the number is small. Other years you don’t expect it and they come out.”
Two-year sales studies were used to determine values in Ida, LaSalle, Raisinville and Summerfield townships. One-year studies were used in Erie and Milan townships.
There was a building boom in late 2000, but the region has not seen that since, Mr. Renius said.
The improvement in property assessments in south county could be attributed to the Toledo housing market being so depressed.
“The south side is still heavily influenced by Toledo,” the assessor said. “We see a lot of influence to (people) moving here. Taxes in Erie, Bedford and Whiteford townships are not as high, pointing people back to Michigan.”
On the contrary, property value in the northern tier of townships in the county may suffer from the influence of plummeting property values in Wayne County, he said.
The rate of foreclosures in Bedford Township has gone up and down since 2008, which saw the highest number of homes foreclosed on (167). The count declined to 112 in 2009 and 125 in 2010, but rose to 135 in 2011, the assessor said.
“I’m not sure what happened” in 2011, he said. “There are still job losses taking place and divorce and some homes lost due to underwater (loans).”
Bedford has also seen some large upscale homes selling for good money. One house that was placed on the market for $199,000 actually sold for $311,000.
“It started a bidding war,” Mr. Renius said.
There was also some improvement in land values for both commercial and industrial sites, Mr. Renius said.
“We’re seeing some movement in those markets as well,” he said. “There is commercial construction taking place. Here in Bedford, we have a new Auto Zone being built and Kroger’s in Lambertville will soon double the size of its store. Carleton has a new Dollar General store.”
Mr. Renius also oversees property assessments for the City of Luna Pier and villages of Carleton, Estral Beach and South Rockwood.
He said few people are calling to appear before the board of review.
“It’s very light this year,” he said. “I don’t know if people are depressed to see the values fall or agree with our assessments.”http://www.monroenews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120318/NEWS01/703189969/-1/NEWSI live in the beach area and the taxes on my adjoining lots are still rising.
No way could I sell 'em the value the township says they're worth.
I found something interesting on their site:
Property values in my neighborhood have been decreasing. Will my property tax bill be decreasing as well?
Unfortunately, there isn't a yes or no answer to that question. If you've owned your property for a significant amount of time, more than likely your State Equalized Value (SEV) far exceeds your Taxable Value. If this is the case, a decrease in valuation, caused by a cooling real estate market, will be reflected in the SEV. The Taxable Value is required by the Michigan Constitution to increase each year by the rate of inflation or 5%, whichever is lower. In the case of a longtime property owner, the SEV could decrease, while the Taxable Value will increase.Does that mean I'll pay more property taxes instead of less?
In the previous scenario, yes you would. The Taxable Value will rise by the annual inflationary increase. This figure multiplied by the local unit's millage rate will determine your new property tax liability.Why won't my taxes decrease if my property value is going down?
Proposal A allowed many residents to pay property taxes on less than half of their market value by "capping" the Taxable Value, while still allowing the assessor to determine the market value by adjusting the SEV. This has caused, for many property owners, a great disparity between the SEV figure and the Taxable Value figure. The assessor can reduce the SEV to reflect the change in property value, but if the Taxable Value is still well below the SEV, it will keep increasing until the two figures meet. Taxes are based on Taxable Value; therefore, you will end up with a tax increase until the Taxable Value calculation catches up to the SEV.
Will my taxes ever go down?
If a property's value decreases each year, the SEV will eventually meet the Taxable Value. The Taxable Value cannot exceed the SEV. When this happens, decreases in SEV will cause decreases in Taxable Value, which will then lower your property tax liability. Due to the potential gap between the SEV and Taxable Value figures, it would take several years of depressed market conditions to make the SEV and Taxable Value equal. If you happen to be a property owner who purchased a property in the last few years and are experiencing decreasing property value, the SEV and Taxable Value figures could meet sooner than someone who has owned the property for a long period of time.http://www.frenchtowntownship.org/tre_faq.php