Recent data shows Polk home sales under assessments

Published 12:16 am Tuesday, December 21, 2010

by Leah Justice
Polk County’s 2009 revaluation resulted in thousands of appeals, but recent data shows that the county’s accessed values of properties has been on average under actual home and land sales.
Every county in North Carolina reports their sales to the N.C. Department of Revenue quarterly in order to compute the sales ratio each year.
The sales ratio for Polk County during the first two quarters this year was 93.4 percent, according to state figures.
Polk County Tax Accessor John Bridgers said the ratio means the tax value of the average home and land sale is 93.4 percent of the selling price.
“Even with the decline in the economy, the selling prices of parcels from all areas of the county seem to be higher than the tax value,” Bridgers said. “I feel our sales ratio indicates that our tax values are close to being on target. “
Polk County began re-accessing all properties in 2008, which should have resulted in bringing values equal to fair market value as of Jan. 1, 2009. All counties in North Carolina are required to do a revaluation at least every eight years.
The county’s last revaluation was done in 2001, so county property values in 2008 were based on that revaluation.
Many Polk County residents disagreed with the 2009 valuation of property.
Polk County handled approximately 1,100 informal tax appeals following the revaluation and about 350 formal appeals on tax parcels from about 250 property owners.
Informal appeals were handled by the county tax accessor’s office and formal appeals were heard before the county board of equalization and review (E&R board).
The 2009 revaluation resulted in a 34.6 percent average increase in values across the county. The 2001 amounted to about a 30 percent increase in values.
As of 2009, Polk County had more than $2.4 billion in total tax value of property, an increase of more than $620 million over 2008 values.
The Polk County Board of Commissioners went revenue neutral with their budget in 2009 following the revaluation, which should have meant an average of no tax increases for area residents.
Going revenue neutral on a budget means the government reduces its tax rate to the amount that would bring in the same amount of revenue as the previous year.
Polk County also did not include a growth rate in 2009, which meant the county did not benefit from tax revenue from any new properties constructed.
A revenue neutral tax rate does not necessarily mean that all properties tax rate remained the same following the 2009 revaluation.
Properties whose valuations were higher than the average of 34.6 percent would have seen an increase in taxes and residents with property valuations lower than the 34.6 percent average would have seen a decrease in tax rates.
The county has since not raised its tax rate, but will bring in more tax revenue this year due to growth in general from new construction and improvements.
The recent report to the department of revenue indicated that most properties are selling for more than the county’s valuation. Following is a list of some examples of properties that were sold in the first two quarters, including the sell price versus the county’s assessed value of that property as of the 2009 revaluation:
A house inside Columbus sold for $280,000 and the tax value was $239,637; a house on Green River Cove Road sold for $225,000 and the tax value was $158,616; a house on Meadowlark Drive sold for $212,000 and the tax value was $184,958; a house on Hardwood Lane sold for $575,000 and the tax value was $386,776; a house inside Saluda City Limits sold for $350,000 and the tax value was $166,948 and 3.83 acres on Laughter Road sold for $44,000 and the tax value was $19,150, according to the Polk County Tax Accessor’s office.
County commissioners have discussed in recent years doing its revaluation of properties every four years instead of every eight years to avoid high increases in tax values. Residents are often overwhelmed with increases in property values over the eight year period. If the county decided to do revaluations every four years, the next one would be done in 2013. If not, the county’s next revaluation would not be done until 2017.

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