Value drop about what assessor expected
May 4, 2011
EAGLE COUNTY – Mark Chapin’s office gets a rash of calls about this time every odd-numbered year. But the complaints this year are the direct opposite of complaints in 2009.Chapin, the Eagle County Assessor, runs the office that determines residential, commercial and other property values for taxing purposes. Given the downturn in the local real estate market, Chapin has been telling local governments for some time to expect a drop of about 30 percent in local values. State law requires that counties value property in even-numbered years. Those values are a snapshot of the local market as of June 30 in even-numbered years.Two years ago, callers complained that their property values were too high, because the state’s system accounted for inflation up to mid-2008, but not the drop after.This year, people calling Chapin’s office are wondering why their property values are so low.For more than a year, Chapin has been telling local governments to expect a drop of about 30 percent in property values. And, on average, that’s about how steep the fall has been. But there have been a few surprises, Chapin said.”Basalt and El Jebel were a surprise – property there dropped as much as 50 percent,” Chapin said. But, he added, values in that part of the county had risen so far so fast, that the new values put many properties at their 2004 or 2006 levels.Other parts of the county have dropped more or less than 30 percent. The fall in Gypsum has been pretty steep, with many homes there falling by 40 percent, 50 percent or more. While double-digit drops are the norm, values in the upper valley have fared a bit better, as have values in Eagle-Vail. Chapin said Eagle-Vail values lagged may have been a bit low in the 2008 valuation process, so didn’t drop quite as far as other areas.
First, it means property tax bills, which rose significantly after the 2006 and 2008 valuations, are going to fall, although just how much they fall won’t be known until the valley’s dozens of taxing districts set their mill levies at the end of this year.It also means that maybe, just maybe, people trying to negotiate “short” sales on their homes, or brokers trying to set prices for bank-owned properties, might have a bit more leverage with lenders. Every sale requires an independent appraisal, but Chad Brasington, a broker with Prudential Colorado Properties, said county records could provide a bit more evidence for people who are trying to put a lower price on a home or piece of land.No matter which way the market’s going, Paul Gotthelf, a broker in Slifer Smith & Frampton’s Bridge Street office, said people always can appeal the value the county puts on their property.”If you think it’s wrong, it might be worthwhile to have an independent appraisal done,” Gotthelf said. But the system overall is fair, Gotthelf said. And, in the end, it all comes down to one overriding factor: “It’s the buyers who dictate everything,” he said. “And now the tide’s completely changed from a couple of years ago.”Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or email@example.com.