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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 31, 2012
Contact:
Thurston County Assessor Steven J. Drew 360.867.2202

Revaluation Notices Reveal New Property Values for 2013 Taxes


OLYMPIA - New assessment notices are being mailed on Friday, June 1, 2012, and it will mark the first time in 16 years that assessment notices have been mailed on time. This will allow taxpayers to see their new assessed values much closer to the January 1, 2012 assessment date, reducing confusion between the assessed value and the effects of recent market activity.

Market analysis by appraisers within the Thurston County Assessor's Office shows that the real estate market continued to decline during 2011, influencing the assessed values that will arrive in mailboxes this weekend or early next week. The new assessment notices will identify value assessments as of January 1, 2012 for taxes to be billed in 2013. The 2012 assessment notices continue to include three years of values to offer a better understanding of how the current and past market has affected property values. The 2012 assessed value of real property countywide is $22.646 billion, which reflects an overall decrease of $2.103 billion. This change in value includes $130 million in new construction added to the 2012 assessment roll so far. The total value of new construction for 2012 will be tabulated in August; assessment notices for new construction will be mailed in September. During 2011, $301 million in new construction was added in Thurston County.

Median values countywide for residential property types continued on a downward trend. Values dropped 10.45% percent from January 2011 to January 2012. In the previous year, assessed values declined 7.7%. This is the fourth year in a row that residential property saw a decline in value. Commercial properties decreased for the third 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 2012 dropped to $184,200, down from $202,700 the previous year.

Property owners with properties located south and east of Olympia and in the Littlerock/Maytown areas received their required six-year physical inspection and their new values represent changes in property characteristics that were updated during the inspection. A physical inspection can result in significant value changes, depending on changes in property characteristics and market trends.

Annual Appraisal: Each year appraisers review and update all assessments so properties reflect their value as of January 1st. 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, 2012, with neither party being under pressure to buy or sell. 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. In addition, 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. We continuously monitor and analyze the market throughout the county to stay current with market trends. Each year, market research and analysis is used to ensure new assessed values reflect value changes in the market place. Changes in the market place occurring now will appear in the 2013 assessment year for property taxes due in 2014.

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:
  • 1.Assessed value of an individual property
  • 2.Total assessed value of all property in a taxing district, e.g., city, school, port
  • 3.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. 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 "Cost Val Rpt" tab.

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 Assessor's request, the Thurston County Board of Commissioners 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 with the Assessor's Office. We encourage direct contact with our office during the 60-day appeal period. If a resolution cannot be reached, an appeal can be filed with the Board of Equalization. Property appeals must be filed with the Board of Equalization by July 31, 2012. 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 elder@co.thurston.wa.us.



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County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3