Local News

Jump in Wake Property Values Averages 43%; Tax Bills Could Follow

Posted November 16, 2007 6:05 p.m. EST
Updated November 20, 2007 12:03 a.m. EST

— Wake County homeowners will have one less thing to be thankful for next week, as officials are preparing to distribute property revaluation notices.

Staff in the county Revenue Department have spent the past two years assessing the value of 325,000 residential and commercial properties across the county – about 90,000 parcels more than when the assessment was last conducted in 2000.

Growth in recent years has pushed property values up by an average of 43 percent, Revenue Director Emmett Curl said. Values jumped about the same amount between assessments in 1992 and 2000, he said.

The revaluation is needed to readjust the county's property tax structure to reflect changes in the market value of various properties, he said.

"Over time, you need to bring this back in line (as to) who pays the tax burden," Curl said.

The tax rate will be rolled back temporarily from 67.8 cents per $100 of assessed value to 53 cents per $100 of assessed value so the county doesn't receive a windfall from the revaluation.

The county's Board of Commissioners will reset the tax rate during next spring's budget process. The rate is expected to go up by at least 2 cents to pay for recently approved bond issues for green space, libraries and Wake Technical Community College.

Homeowners whose property increased in value less than 25 to 30 percent in recent years will likely see little change in their annual tax bill, Curl said. But some neighborhoods could see hefty tax increases because of skyrocketing property values, he said.

The first time property owners look at their revaluation, they may want to be sitting down.

"’Your thinking right now is?’ I am going to have a heart attack and die,” said property owner Jane Temple as she looked at her tax assessment online.

Property values inside the Interstate 440 Beltline have shot up by an average of 73 percent, for example. People who live near the newer sections of Interstate 540 north and east of Raleigh also could get hit by higher tax bills because the land has become more valuable, Curl said.

"Everyone knows that we are growing, and as we grow, the availability of the land shrinks. You're creating a shortage of supply, and therefore, prices are rising fairly dramatically," he said.

Chip Ackerman lives inside the Interstate 440 Beltline and his property value went up 65 percent.

"Whew, it is a bummer, but something we have to accept. There is nothing we can do about it,” Ackerman said.

Terry Lennon said he expects his neighborhood near North Hills will see a significant boost in assessed values and tax bills.

"The price of houses has just gone through the roof in this neighborhood," Lennon said. "I think we're all going to be in for a bit of a shock – sticker shock."

But he said the higher tax bills could squeeze long-time residents who live on fixed incomes.

"In a situation like this, you have to stop and think about what you're doing to the homeowners. I don't think you want to make up that entire difference in one big step," he said.

Wake County properties are revalued every eight years. While home values go up, the tax rate is typically decreased to keep tax bills from skyrocketing.

A committee recently suggested more frequent updates to property values and not decreasing the tax rate to create additional revenue.

“I think it will be done more often. I think it’s the fairest way to treat the taxpayers of Wake County. I think we do need to appraise values more frequently,” said Tony Gurley, the chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

Over the next 25 years, such a change could raise more than $2 billion to help the county meet growth needs.