Colorado property owners to face astronomical tax increases next year

Big jump in home values during pandemic will result in bigger tax bills absent relief

Aldo Svaldi
The Denver Post
Townhomes at the base of Peak 8 in Breckenridge as seen on Friday, November 20, 2020.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

Colorado homeowners, no longer protected by the Gallagher Amendment, face unprecedented and unsettling increases in their property taxes next year as the run-up in home prices during the pandemic works its way into the state’s tax base.

“We know we will have this issue, but it is like a train wreck about to happen where you have no brakes and you can’t do anything to stop it,” said Glen Weinberg, owner of Fairview Commercial Lending in Evergreen and Steamboat Springs, who has blogged about the slow-motion crisis.

County assessors in late April will mail out valuation notices based on property values as of June 30, 2022, which also happens to be close to when home values peaked in Colorado. Although not one-for-one, looking at how much home values rose in Colorado over the two years prior to the date offers a rough proxy for potential property tax increases in 2023 and 2024.

Using the median sales price numbers from the Colorado Association of Realtors, homes prices are up 55.9% in Boulder, 45.1% in Denver, 43.65% in Adams, 41.2% in Jefferson, and 36.6% in Arapahoe and Douglas counties. In seven counties, the median price of a home sold has more than doubled over the two-year valuation cycle — Bent, Castilla, Otero, Pitkin, Routt, San Juan, San Miguel and Otero.

Homes sales prices help determine home values, but they can be skewed by the mix of homes selling in a given period. Assessors obtain a value for every property, and although different in its approach, Zillow also tries to do the same with its Home Price Index. The values there are then aggregated up to the county level. While not as extreme as the gain in the sales numbers, they are big too.

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