Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Valuations reflective of changing market

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FAIRMONT– Home owners in Martin County have been receiving home valuation notices this week and many likely saw quite a big increase.

“What they’re seeing is another year of increasing values. The market– buyers and sellers–are exchanging properties at ever-increasing sale prices,” said County Assessor, Mike Sheplee.

He said while it’s true most everywhere, in Martin County, the sales activity made the county increase ag land values by 41 percent in order to keep up with the market. Ag land constitutes 71 percent of the property value in the county and ag as a class pays 34 percent of the tax in the county.

Sheplee said over the last year they saw the best ag land sell at $12,000 per acre, compared to $8,200 the year before.

In town, residential property value increased 5 percent off the water and 12 percent on the water. This comes after significant increases last year when property value off the water saw a 24 percent increase and on water a 13 percent increase.

While an increase in home value looks good on paper as it means that the equity has increased, the value is used to allocate a tax expense and that’s when people see it as a negative.

However, Sheplee said, “People don’t need to sell their property for what we declare the value to be. They can sell it for whatever the market will bear.”

The data that assessors are required to use to come up with a valuation is from October 2021 to September 2022.

The job of the assessor is to report the market activity, which includes what buyers and sellers agree to on sale prices. The assessor then tries to match the values as of Jan. 2 each year.

“In order to keep the information updated, we inspect on a rotating basis. People can expect for us to review their property once every five years,” Sheplee said.

Now that Covid restrictions have lessened, the assessor’s office would like to start

knocking on doors to update its record from the inside of homes. Sheplee noted that some home improvements wouldn’t be observed until they’re in the home.

The affect on the actual tax paid based on these values won’t be known until November when another tax estimate is done.

“While we would expect taxes to change, it will not be in the percentages that the value changed,” Sheplee said.

For example, a 41 percent change in ag value will not see a 41 percent increase in property tax.

“We are seeing some effects of the higher interest rates currently and a slow down in sales of residential property, but those changes will show up in next year’s assessment,” Sheplee explained.

Sheplee said anyone who has questions is welcome to call or stop in to talk to him. The 2023 boards and equalization is also a good time to ask questions or challenge the valuation. The time and place for all the meetings is on the valuation notice.

Sheplee said almost always they can come to an agreement with people who challenge the valuation by talking the process over and looking at comparable sales and making data corrections. If they can’t come to an agreement, Sheplee said the assessor’s office will help someone prepare for the appeal so they can get a good and honest decision from the board or council.

“The goal of all of this is to keep it fair and equal for all tax payers,” Sheplee said.

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