OLYMPIA - When new assessment notices are mailed on Friday, May 31, 2013, it will mark the 2nd year in a row that assessment notices have been mailed on time. This will allow taxpayers to see their new assessed values much closer to the January 1, 2013 assessment date, reducing confusion between the assessed value and the effects of recent market activity. -30-
Market analysis by appraisers within the Assessor’s Office indicates the real estate market began improving during 2012, 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, 2013 for taxes to be billed in 2014. The 2013 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 2013 assessed value of real property countywide is $23.960 billion, reflects an overall increase of $1.296 billion. This change in value includes $129 million in New Construction added to the 2013 assessment roll so far. The total value of New Construction for 2013 will be tabulated in August; assessment notices for New Construction will be mailed on August 30, 2013. During 2012, $287 million in New Construction was added in Thurston County.
Median values countywide for residential property types improved on an upward trend. Values increased 4.73% from January 2012 to January 2013. In the previous year, assessed values declined 10.45%. This is the first year in the past five that residential property values saw an increase countywide. Commercial property values also increased for the first year in the past four.
The real estate market shows signs of improvement, in terms of the number of permits issued, overall value increases and the number of sales transactions. The median assessed value for a single family residence as of January 2013 rose to $193,800, up from $184,150 the previous year. These numbers represent a 5.2% increase.
Property owners with properties located in East Olympia, the Lacey area, commercial bare land, railroad tracks, airplane hangars, and golf courses 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 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, 2013, 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 2014 assessment year for property taxes due in 2015.
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, cities, county, fire districts, 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 the Olympia School District approve a special school levy that increases taxes, only residents in Olympia will be impacted by that tax increase. For the past several years, voter-approved levies accounted for approximately 44 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 Search (A+) system, you can research data on property and land values, building characteristics, and sales. 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.
This year the A+ system includes all of the sales in your residential neighborhood. Look for the "Sales" tab. Sales that have been used to determine your most recent assessed value are marked "Yes". Also new this year is an ownership history on the A+ system under the "Owner History" 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 Assessors 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 30, 2013. Appeal petitions and instructions are available from the Boards website (www.co.thurston.wa.us/boe). They are also available by contacting the Clerk of the Board at (360) 786-5135 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.