Numbers from the recently released 2013 Summit County property tax valuations indicate that the local economy has stabilized over the past two years. An overall look shows less decline than anticipated in the real values of the county’s residential, commercial and vacant properties, indicating a move away from the recession-related numbers of 2011, experts say.
Looking back at previous years, data shows that values increased dramatically in 2009. According to the assessor’s office, nearly 20 percent of Summit County properties appealed the increase during that year.
“What our study revealed was that properties were selling about 27 percent more countywide than they did in 2007,” said Summit County Assessor Beverly Breakstone.
Every two years, the tax assessor sends out tax valuations to Summit County residents. This determines property value and amount of tax owed on that property. Property owners are allowed to appeal their valuations during the 30 days of the month in which they received their notice.
“They appeal, which is their right, and we welcome it because it helps us understand which areas of the county we may need to review,” Breakstone said.
In 2011, things turned around as the incline became a decline due to the recession, Breakstone said. Residential property (excluding condominiums), for example, declined from an overall value of $10,254,859,350 in 2009 to $8,500,863,660. The overall value of Summit County towns also decreased across the board, anywhere from 14 percent to 19 percent.
This year, however, provides a different picture. While most values have still declined, they have done so in significantly lower increments. The overall value of the town of Breckenridge, for example, declined only 3.86 percent in 2013 as opposed to 17.54 percent in 2011.
“That seems to show that things have definitely gotten better,” Breakstone said. “That’s quite an improvement. That means the sales prices on many things actually went up from 2011.”
The town of Frisco made the most dramatic change, pulling out of a 19.31 percent decrease in 2011 to present a 1.36 percent increase in 2013. There are many factors that could have impacted this change, Breakstone said, which makes it difficult to identify the exact reasons.
“The data showed that the average of all sales actually went up in Frisco,” she said.
One factor may be that people in Frisco were able to sell their houses at or above the listed prices. In times of low buyer activity, homeowners will often begin to lower their asking prices in order to attract potential buyers. If there are plenty of active buyers, this becomes unnecessary.
“The trend is that it looks like our values for real property are stabilizing,” Breakstone said. “I think we’re seeing stabilization in the real estate market.”
Real estate isn’t the only market that seems to be picking up. Between 2009 and 2011, the value of vacant properties dropped significantly. The decline was less significant in the 2013 report.
“I think that what happened, especially on (vacant) residential parcels, is during the recession fewer people were buying land to have a custom home built, so that slowed down,” Breakstone said. With fewer people buying to build, there were fewer land transactions. “I think that’s going to turn around now that new construction is heating up. We’re seeing a dramatic increase in new construction. That means jobs, people getting employed, building things. That’s a tremendously good thing for our local economy.”
Based on the numbers of the 2013 property valuations, Summit County is seeing more economic stabilization overall. Breakstone estimates that this trend will continue.
“What we are seeing is a stabilization in the marketplace,” she said, “and we’re not seeing the declines that we have seen in the last two years.”
Breakstone said that the assessor’s office is ready to explain the re-valuation process to anyone who requires more information or clarification.
“They are welcome to come down here, they are welcome to call,” she said.
The Summit County Assessor’s Office can be reached at (970) 453-3480. The office is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.