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Assessments show housing prices at all-time high

CBJ's mill rate increase was lower than was first calculated

Posted: April 20, 2012 - 12:04am

Assessment data the city has collected and calculated has found that in 2011, housing sale prices in Juneau reached an all time high.

Robin Potter, City and Borough of Juneau assessor, gave a presentation for the Finance Committee Wednesday night as property assessment information has been sent out for the year.

There were 13,292 parcels of real property valued for 2012, Potter said, which amounts to $4 billion in total taxable value. There were 117 building permit inspections for new construction — 37 commercial and 80 residential. For business property there are 3,460 active accounts with $322.5 million in total taxable value — of which only 299 are taxable.

Potter said there were 1,445 senior citizen exemptions, 60 for disabled veterans, 77 hardship exemptions (though applications are still open until April 30 for these), 73 for non-profits and three for export manufacturing.

Potter presented data from the Juneau Multiple Listing Service that came out in January. The chart shows single-family home sales from 2005 through 2011. There were 305 sales closed in 2011 with an average price of nearly $295,000 with an average of 87 days on the market. The sale price average topped 2007 records when the average was $293,000, with a 78 day average on the market. The lowest average price in that time frame was in 2005, with $273,000 and an average market days of 38. There were 336 sales closed that year. In 2010, the average price was $279,000 with 94 days on the market and 329 sales.

In this listing, single-family homes include detached, with apartment, attached and condominiums.

Part of calculating assessment data also includes determining the percentage difference between assessed value and sales price. Those figures are used in determining taxable values.

“All properties are revalued annually,” Potter said. “They are valued by market trending.”

Potter said there are variances when there is “non-average maintenance” at a property, non-permitted changes or unreported damages.

Potter showed data that in 2011, there were 886 property transactions and 309 “verified sales.” Those sales exclude foreclosures, government sales, sales between people who are related and similar cases. Potter said that’s done to calculate a more precise ratio.

Several sectors of property are separated out in assessments — single-family, townhouse/zero lots, condos, multi-family, vacant land, mobile homes and commercial. Potter said all multi-family (duplexes, triplexes) were inspected with updates for 2012.

Housing value trends have increased as well, though the biggest gain was in single-family homes. Potter charted single-family, zero lot line and condos for 2008-2012, since those three kinds of property are the most substantial.

In 2008 the median value for single-family homes was $318,000. That number dropped and hovered just above $308,000 for three years, and in 2012 the median value has risen to $332,000. Zero lot line property values started in 2008 at $231,000, dropping to $226,000 in 2009 and staying at $232,000 for the next two years. In 2012 that value rose by $10,000.

Condos have seen the least fluctuation in value in the past five years, starting in 2008 at $162,000 dropping to $155,000 for 2010 and ‘11 and raising slightly by $5,000 in 2012.

Potter also showed that Juneau’s taxable value has had an average growth rate of 4.1 percent per year since 2002. The graph shows a steady incline with a taxable value of just more than $2.5 billion in 2002, to a taxable value of more than $4.3 billion in 2012.

Potter said the department is working on assessing every property that hasn’t been assessed since 2007 or 2008 and will be focusing on pockets of properties that have — for one reason or another — been overlooked for too many years.

City Finance Director Craig Duncan explained that the assessor’s role is merely to assess properties at their full value per state law.

Duncan said people have been incorrectly stating that the assessor’s office is involved with taxation.

Duncan explained how the assessment information plays into property taxes. He said the assessed values are multiplied by the mill rates, which are set by the Assembly, and that’s the amount of tax the city requires people to pay.

Duncan’s last discussion before the committee talked about a mill rate increase for Fiscal Year 2013 and 2014 as part of a way to meet the multi-million dollar deficit.

The end result would have been a 10.99 mill rate by 2014. Duncan said that the debt service mill rate has been adjusted down by .06 mills because of the Juneau School District’s bond proposals for Auke Bay Elementary and Adair-Kennedy Field.

Those proposals offered to take interest monies from other projects and spend down the district’s bond debt. In doing so, FY13’s mill rate will increase in the operational levy, which increases the total mill rate at 10.89 — a 3.22 percent increase over FY12.

So what does that mean for taxpayers?

For single-family dwellings, the assessment value will have risen 7.61 percent over the prior year, but in a four-year trend it’s gone up 4.4 percent.

For property tax levies, using the maximum mill levy data, it’s an 11.08 percent increase over the prior year. Duncan said the four year trend is a 9.6 percent increase, with an average increase over those years of 2.4 percent per year.

These percentages use the median value of the property category.

“If you just compare ‘11 to ‘12, it looks like it went up 11 percent,” Duncan said. “But then you would be forgetting it went down for several years.”

The increases were less for zero lot line homes and condos. Condos, for example, will see a 6.55 percent increase over the prior year, with 3.8 percent of an increase since 2008. The average yearly increase in that time is just under 1 percent.

For a copy of the PowerPoint presentation Potter and Duncan gave, visit: http://bit.ly/J7G3BL.

For other information on assessments see: www.juneau.org/finance/#assessors

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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