Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Roanoke City real estate assessments take a hit again this year

GREEN dots are sales and RED dots are foreclosures.

GREEN dots are sales and RED dots are foreclosures.

Roanoke City homeowners can expect their real estate assessments in the mail this week. If you don’t get a notice your assessment has not changed. The 27,200 notices were mailed Monday. That was an increase of 10,000 compared to last year said Susan Lower, Director of Real Estate Valuation.

“It is the second consecutive year we have seen a mass reduction,” said Lower. The declines are spread out like Swiss cheese depending on the dwelling and number of foreclosures in close proximity. Residents who saw their home values decline for 2011 could see another decline for 2012.

The good or bad news depending on a property owners perspective is that the majority of residential real estate has decreased. About two thirds of residential properties went down in 2011 and with this assessment there was another decline of about 60 percent. The overall decrease for residential property is 1.12 percent.

“Most of us want their house value to appreciate through time but at this recent housing cycle unfortunately there has been some depreciation of home values,” said Director of Finance Ann Shawver.

 Declines not only concern citizens but it is also a concern for local government leaders since real estate taxes contribute a large portion of revenue to a city. “I think here in Roanoke we do need to remain very appreciative and feel thankful and fortunate that In Roanoke we have kept things fairly stable over these recent years,” said Shawver.

The city sees some positive sign in that the decrease in residential of 1.12 percent was less for 2012. In 2011 there was a 1.64 percent decline. Some vacant unmaintained or repurposed commercial property in the Hurt Park and Southeast areas took a hit this year too but new construction, some commercial and renovated apartments helped pull the city-wide assessment decline to a respectable .7 percent.

The overall 1.23 decline in 2011 was the first year in Roanoke’s history that assessments decreased. “Unfortunately right now we are still seeing a little bit of a decline in our assessed values,” said Shawver. “We are not nearly in the downturn as some of the other communities around the state have seen.”

Roanoke lagged other communities during the housing downturn and Shawver feels Roanoke is slightly lagging as housing is picking up. “We certainly hope that we’re reaching the end and we will have an upturn shortly.”

Rental properties have taken off and stayed strong especially in downtown said Lower. There was a one percent uptick in the median value of homes sold in 2012 – from $130,300 to $132,000. Foreclosures are down 13 percent but the number of homes sold dropped slightly to 475. “I don’t know which way that trend will go but for this year it’s a positive,” said Lower. Though foreclosures are down they are still elevated at 283 – the normal would be around 200. “At least it is going in the right direction … we’re hearing some pretty good stuff from the realtors,” said Lower.

“If I had to say anything that was really concerning to me it’s our lack of data [to make assessment presumptions]” In normal markets there would be 1200 plus sales from which to glean data. “This is the new normal.”

The new construction projects that helped lift the city’s assessments were the new FedEx facility, the airport terminal remodel, Spectrum Sports expansion, Kuumba Community Health Melrose, Center in the Square renovations, Cook Out Grill and Dollar stores.

New rehabs at the City Lofts, Crystal Tower, Shenandoah Building, River House, Lofts at West Station, COV building, the Billy’s Ritz building and revitalization of Towers and Crossroad Malls also gave a boost to overall assessed values. City manager Chris Morrill saw revitalization of the older malls as a “real positive for a city our size.” All this activity resulted in about one half percent uptick in commercial values.

If residents find fault with their assessment they can be appealed to the Real Estate Valuation office until February 4. Forms are online. Beyond that it can be appealed to the Board of Equalization then to Circuit Court.

The new assessed value will take effect July 1, 2013. The first payment for any increase or decrease in property value for the upcoming fiscal year will be due October 5, 2013.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Finance

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