by KATIE EUBANKS Sun Staff Writer
A fluctuating housing market does not necessarily mean big changes in property taxes.“Smaller houses less than 1,600 square feet have remained fairly stable [in appraised value],” said Madison County Tax Assessor Gerald Barber.“When houses were highest in 2007 we did not raise the [appraised] values to the highest level since we forecast it as temporary and predicted the bubble would burst,” Barber said.He said larger houses’ appraised values have decreased as much as 15 percent in the recession.Though appraised values are determined a bit differently for taxes than for real estate purposes, the values should be close to the same, he said. “The major difference is that we are using mass appraisal techniques that utilize large databases and compare with a larger group of comparable properties. Then we [account] for different construction materials and local economic index factors.”Market value is still the goal, he said, but mass appraisals can range from 80 to 110 percent of market value.Both Barber and Hinds County Tax Assessor Charles Stokes said it was too early to tell how county budgets would be affected by the current four-year cycle of reappraisals, which will wrap up in 2012. Counties appraise 25 percent of all properties each year.However, Stokes said, “the value pretty well stands on its own, regardless of the recession and all that. “But see, you also have a lot of foreclosures and things where people are getting good deals on houses when they buy them on the market.”SO IF YOU WANT to sell your home and are excited that your appraised value is still looking good, don’t get too excited just yet. You still might have to sell for less than you want.“The number of prospective buyers in a poor economy is less. But sometimes the number of sellers remains the same and you end up with over-supply. You end up with a buyer’s market,” said Kenny Adcock, a certified real estate appraiser with Appraisal Resources and a licensed real estate broker with B. Companies Inc.Adcock said that in his line of work, homes up to 2,000 square feet have kept a greater percentage of their appraised values, though “it pertains more to overall price than the size of the home.” He agreed with Barber that the values of more affluent homes have decreased more since the recession started.“More affordable homes market to a larger group of people, and as people come of age and get to the point where they’re ready to buy their first home, you’re going to have a certain amount of those buyers every year,” he said. “That’s not necessarily the same as the houses where you’re moving from a smaller one to a larger one.”Market value appraisals are based on several factors, including definitions from the nationwide Appraisal Foundation. What it should amount to is “the most reasonable price that an educated buyer would pay,” he said. “If somebody moves here from California, they might have a tendency to overpay because they’re not educated about our market and they think they’re getting a good deal on everything.” He said he thinks the housing market in the Jackson metro area is still trying to recover, though it has done well compared to some other parts of the country.“I think a lot of that is going to be left up to the elections of 2012,” he said.“The more stringent lending guidelines have stifled loans. The government tends to overreact and overcompensate. I’ve had realtors say, ‘Kenny I could’ve sold this house three times last year, and all these people would’ve qualified, but now they don’t.’“The government is going to have to relax those guidelines, and consumers will get more confident, and all of that takes time.”
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