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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, September 15, 2011
Thurston County Assessor Steven Drew, 360-867-2200

Revaluation Notices Reveal New Property Values for 2012 Taxes

OLYMPIA - A sluggish real estate market influenced property assessment notices that are being mailed to Thurston County property owners on Friday, September 16, 2011. About 122,000 notices will identify new value assessments as of January 1, 2011 for taxes to be billed in 2012. The 2011 assessment notices have been updated to include three years of values to view and better understand how the current and past market has affected property values. The 2011 assessed value of real property countywide is $24.749 billion, representing an overall decrease of $1.384 billion. This change in value includes $301 million in New Construction added to the 2011 assessment roll, down from $336 million in 2010.

Median values countywide for residential property types continued its downward trend. Values dropped 7.7% percent from January 2010 to January 2011. In the previous year, assessed values declined 7.2%. This is the third year in a row that residential property saw a decline in value. Commercial properties decreased for the second straight year.

The real estate market was generally less active than prior years and the pace of new construction continued its downward trend. The housing market continues to suffer from high unemployment, less demand, tight lending standards, and continuing foreclosures.

The median assessed value of a home as of January 2011 dropped to $202,700, down from $219,400 the previous year. The median home price in February 2011 dipped to $219,900 from $233,440 in February 2010, according to the NW Multiple Listing Service.

Property owners in the Tumwater and Black Lake areas received their required six-year physical inspection. Their new values represent changes in property characteristics that were noted during the inspection. Some owners will see a larger or a smaller change in their assessments due to modifications of property characteristics and the effects of market activity.

Annual Appraisal: Each year appraisers conduct a revaluation to review and update all assessments so properties reflect their value as of January 1. Market value for the current assessment year is defined as the price a typical, informed buyer would pay a typical, knowledgeable seller for a property as of January 1, 2011. Appraisers analyze property sales to measure trends and identify factors that influence values and ultimately determine new values for properties in the area.

Many forces - such as location, size, quality, condition, and age - influence property values. It is necessary to analyze the market throughout the county continuously to keep values current. General economic conditions such as interest rates, inflation, construction costs, supply and demand, and changes in zoning, subdivisions, and tax laws all influence the value of real estate. As property values change in the market place, those changes are reflected on the assessment roll. Changes in the market place occurring this year will appear in the 2012 assessment year for property taxes due in 2013.

While your property value affects your share of taxes, the actual amount you pay is determined by tax rates based on the budget requests of the schools, city, county, sewer district, port, roads, and other taxing districts. Revaluation ensures that the distribution of property taxes is fair and impartial. Countywide property tax increases or decreases are directly related to the actions of voters and/or taxing district budget requests.

Three factors generally influence how much tax is due on a particular property:
  • Assessed value of an individual property
  • Total assessed value of all property in a taxing district, e.g., city, school, port
  • Budget of the taxing district

Taxing districts may ask voters to approve levy lifts, maintenance and operation levies, or other special projects that would raise more revenue through property taxes. When voters in Yelm approve a special school levy that increases taxes, residents in Olympia or Tenino or other parts of the county will not be impacted by that tax increase, only property owners in the Yelm School District. For the past several years, voter-approved levies accounted for approximately 38 percent of the property taxes.

The Thurston County Assessor's Office is available to serve customers by phone, in person, and online. The office is open for customers from 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday. The Assessor encourages anyone who has questions about their valuation to visit or call our office at the number listed on your notification. At the Assessors request, the Thurston County Board of Commissioners recently extended the period for filing an appeal from 30 to 60 days in the interest of giving taxpayers more time to resolve value related questions directly with the Assessor's Office.

Online access is available to assist customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Go to www.co.thurston.wa.us/assessor for information on property assessment and property taxation. By selecting the Assessor's Parcel Look-Up System (A+), you can research data on property and land values, building characteristics, and sales. New this year the A+ system also provides a detailed breakdown and explanation of how each residential property value was determined based on its property characteristics. Look for the CVR tab. Property appeals must be filed with the Board of Equalization by November 15, 2011. Appeal petitions and instructions can be downloaded from the county website (www.co.thurston.wa.us). They are also available by contacting the Clerk of the Board at (360) 786-5135 or by email at elderr@co.thurston.wa.us.



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3