Despite the nationwide decline in housing sales–and the subsequent value of homes–it is likely 2008 will bring a property tax increase.
Here’s why. Ada Assessor Bob McQuade tracks local sale prices and has appraisers in the field on a daily basis. He predicts the valuations will be pretty much flat. Some of the “McMansions” may decline in value, but generally speaking the values are static.
McQuade’s office provides only a basis for local governments (city, county, schools etc.) to LEVY AGAINST. Idaho property taxes are based on a PERCENTAGE of value. This means that if a taxing authority needs more cash to pay for salary obligations, new libraries, police cars or operating expenses, the levy will INCREASE. But they are limited to a 3% increase in local spending.
Example: $100 house at 2% yields $2 tax. Same house worth $200 at 1.5% yields $3. However if the value goes down to $75, they need 4% to get that $3.
Property values are established as of December 31 for the following year. The notices usually come out over Memorial Weekend at the end of May for the 2008 assessed value.
During the so called “boom years,” levies actually went down but local governments made extra money off the increased values. Those increases were based, in part, on the artificial increase in property values. Growthophobes will tell you that contrary to claims that growth pays for itself, growth caused artificial increases in value and increased demand for services.
The GUARDIAN argues that McQuade puts too much stock in the “comparable sales” reported by realtors. It is in the best interest of these sellers to keep the prices high. They will never tell you “the market sucks.” They also won’t tell you a property went for more than its true value to cover sub prime loans.
Anyone who has purchased a house knows of all the money manipulation that goes on with lenders. Things like “paying” more for the house in order to get enough of a “cushion” to pay for a down payment, finance a car or just provide spare cash. Buyers felt they had “equity” as long as the subjective private appraisal was high enough to cover the debt.
A recent public radio report surveyed realtors from across the nation. Each and everyone described the market as “soft,” but added the market in their area–every market–was still very good.
Banks teetering on the edge of solvency and reporting the highest rate of foreclosures since the Great Depression tell a different story. People trying to sell overpriced homes will also tell you things are tough.
When someone “buys” a house for $300,000 and fails to ever pay for it or pays interest only, can the purchase price reasonably be considered when establishing true value? These factors combine to make the GUARDIAN believe values are down rather than flat and local governments should pull their collective belts in a few notches.
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