Area home values rise 5% in last four years

Area home values rise 5% in last four years

April 5th, 2009 by Beverly Carroll and Matt Wilson in Business


In Georgia, it's up to local governments to decide when and if to reappraise property, according to state Department of Revenue spokesman Charles Willey. Tax assessors are waiting to see what the state legislature and then the governor does before making any final decisions, said Dale McCurdy, Catoosa County chief appraiser. They are watching House Bill 233, which calls for freezing tax assessments for two years.

The median sale price of a home in Hamilton County and surrounding areas increased about 5 percent from December 2004 to December 2008, according to the Chattanooga Association of Realtors.

But that may not necessarily mean that'll be the average increase in property values reflected in this year's reappraisal, which is meant to reflect the change in home value between Jan. 1, 2005, and Jan. 1, 2009, officials said.

"What I really see affecting the values of the houses right now is everything we're dealing with, with foreclosures and all the short sales that are going on," said Kathy Tucker of the Realtors association. "Plus, there's the huge inventory on the market. When there's a lot of inventory, sellers tend to take less for their properties."

The Realtors association includes Marion and Sequatchie counties, as well as several counties in Northwest Georgia. But Robert Nodes, spokesman for the association, said Hamilton County makes up the bulk of its sales data.

Tennessee assessors, by law, cannot take foreclosure sales or other so-called "short sales" into account when doing the reappraisal. They can consider only "arm's-length" sales between a willing buyer and a willing seller.

Assessors also cannot take into account the asking price of homes on the market, Hamilton County Assessor of Property Bill Bennett has said.

Roy Rumfelt, chief deputy in the assessor's office, said officials can't say just yet what the average change in appraised property values will be.

"We'll eventually know that, but we haven't finished up our (appeals) hearings here," he said.

Mr. Rumfelt also said the assessor's figures may differ from the Realtors association's figures because they must correct errors from the last reappraisal.

Almost all of the notices of reappraisals for the county's 149,000 parcels of property have been sent to property owners, officials have said.

In 2005, the last reappraisal year, the average property in Hamilton County increased in value by about 14 percent, according to officials. This year, several homeowners have reported increases in property values of 20 percent or higher.

Bradley County sent its appraisal notices to property owners Friday, said Assessor Stanley Thompson. He said the average increase for all types of property - residential, commercial, farm - was about 18 percent.