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Orange County home values leap 25 percent in tax revaluation

Posted December 18, 2008

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— Amid a housing market in turmoil, homeowners in some counties will get what might be an unwelcome notice in the mail: property tax revaluations.

Chatham, Cumberland, Edgecombe, Nash, Orange and Warren counties were reassessing home values in order to adjust property taxes.

In Orange County, tax assessors posted preliminary results online, and some homeowners have already said they are worried about the economic blow higher property taxes could deliver.

"I'm angry. They basically want to steal money from me. They want to take food off my table," said Don O'Leary, adding that assessors raised the value of his Hillsborough home 25 percent.

Tax officials said that overall, homes were worth an average of 23 to 25 percent more than four years ago. In Chapel Hill, the average increase was 28 percent.

The value of living in Orange County has driven home values up, county tax assessor John Smith said.

"Orange County is a great place to live," Smith said. "We've got universities. We've got parks. We've got transportation. We've got the Research Triangle. We've got the hospitals."

Assessors based property tax revaluations on houses' real-estate value for the past four years.

In November, the average house price in the Triangle dropped $23,686 from October, homes stayed on the market for 100 days – the highest average in two years – and nearly 1,000 fewer homes were sold than in November 2007, according to the Triangle Multiple Listing Service.

O'Leary said the method of calculating property taxes every four years unfairly discounts the slump in the housing market.

"It's unheard of to raise somebody's property taxes 20 to 30 percent when the housing market is going down across the board," he said.

Usually, county commissioners lower the tax rate when home values go up, and Smith said he expects that to happen this time around as well.

O'Leary said that even if the money evens out, homeowners will still be hurt by higher values.

"Here they want to raise the property values, and people can't sell their house as it is," he said.

But Smith said he did not think the effect of revaluations would be so detrimental to the local housing market.

"I'm not seeing sales that indicate that the market has gone bad. The market has certainly flattened out somewhat, but we are looking at a four-year timetable," Smith said.

Homeowners should receive their notice by mail Jan. 6. Forms to appeal the decision are available online and at the Tax Assessor's Office in the Gateway Center, 228 S. Churton St. Suite 200 in Hillsborough. Appeals can be made into the summer.

O'Leary pointed to a printed-out appeals form and said he planned to submit it.

"I have to fill all of this out, and, apparently, everyone in Orange County is going to have to get one of these," he said.


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  • Alexia.1 Dec 19, 2008

    uncdeadhead, I did exactly what you suggest. I demonstrated that all of the homes in my neighborhood were selling lower per square foot (by several dollars) than what the Wake County decided my house was worth. In short, I apparently have the most valuable home per square foot in my neighborhood. Yet, there is nothing special about my home. My request to have it reduced to be in line with other home sales was declined.

  • SO LOW Dec 19, 2008

    I live in Orange County and mine went up 32%. Not to mention, the Department of Insurance has just raised homeowner's insurance by 4%... they had requested almost 19% and did not get it... so they will be coming back again next year and the year after until they get that 19% they were looking for originally.

    And then you have Easley taking his luxury vacations on OUR tax dollars! Gotta love it! Let's make it so nobody can afford to live in NC!

  • uncdeadhead Dec 19, 2008

    This is in retribution for the home sale transfer tax that was defeated in the election.

    If you live in any county and know a realtor, get them to go to the MLS and get the sales prices for comparable homes in your area for the past six months to a year and present that to the tax office. I have done so and have found homes in Orange County with our size and construction type in the comp area have decreased in sales price and are selling below the new revaluation from the county (the county says our home is worth $35,000 more than four years ago, but the current sales price for a comparable home is running $55,000 less than the new valuation).

    I will be having fun at the county offices in January!

  • Common Sense Man Dec 18, 2008

    "Orange County is a great place to live," Smith said. "We've got universities. We've got parks. We've got transportation. We've got the Research Triangle."

    Uhhhhhhhhhh, RTP isn't in Orange County.

  • buttercup1 Dec 18, 2008

    yea say that again they have it all in that tiny hillsborough hole, even two lanes all the way from I-40 through congested down town all the way up hwy 86 to Virginia. Take some of that money to make TREMENDOUS improvements! Im sorry my opinion Orange County is a horrible place to call home.....

  • Eduardo1 Dec 18, 2008

    when every thing in this country is going down, people known as appraisers who are must be related to certain birds who have their heads in the ground, or others who have their heads up their ...and are not aware of what is happpening in this country, with home sales dipping, foreclosures, job loses etc. I think we will be following, Greece, Japan, China and other countries with civil unrest and rioting in the streets, when enough people, start to say " I'm tired, and I'm not gonna take it anymore"

  • roadbrnr Dec 18, 2008

    People losing their jobs,struggling to pay the bills and mortgage.Now taxes are being raised.How much can folks take?

  • Tax Man Dec 18, 2008

    I moved here from California in 1993 - we had a great deal there - the county could only raise your taxes 2% per year as long as you owned your home, regardless of the value changes. That allows people who have retired on fixed incomes like social security to keep their homes, otherwise many have to sell because they cannot afford the taxes! Would like to see a similar law in NC - only for personal residences - once you buy it that fixes the value and then it can only increase a small amount each year!

  • foetine Dec 18, 2008

    Historic Hillsborough should have priceless houses.

  • Tax Man Dec 18, 2008

    Got a simple solution - if the tax assessor says your house is worth a certain value - tell him, "fine, I accept your cash offer to purchase my home today for that price" - if they won't then how can they justify the value? That is how any appraisal should be - the appraiser should fix a true price that you could get on the spot, that moment they sign the appraisal, and to back it up they should buy it for that price if you choose to sell! Would keep the appraisers honest - and the tax collector as well.