New real estate values due out soon in Haywood

Property owners in Haywood County will soon learn how their home and land values weathered the recession.

Every home, lot and tract of land in the county — all 50,000 of them — have been reappraised to reflect the current real estate market.

Some will see their property value go up compared to the last countywide appraisal in 2006. But a good number will find their property values have gone down. Start watching your mailbox in March for a notice from the county with new property values.

While the county isn’t yet saying what folks should expect — whether property values as a whole went up or down — it’s not rocket science to make an educated prediction.

“I would think the normal market price is going to drop, on some properties as much as 30 percent,” according to Bruce McGovern, real estate broker and owner of McGovern Property Management and Real Estate Sales.

Of course, it will vary by the type of property. Higher priced homes are more likely to drop, while median priced homes have held their value better and may see increases.

What’s likely to take the biggest hit?

“Vacant subdivision lots have come way down,” McGovern said. So has land.

McGovern pointed to 40 acres he just sold for $160,000 — far less than the $400,000 it was initially listed for four years ago.

But it’s not necessarily a bad thing, McGovern said. WNC was a victim of an inflated real estate market five years ago. Now, values are more realistic.

“I think it is a true adjustment that needed to be done,” McGovern said. “We need to have correct appraisals on property.”


Final countdown

A team of four county appraisers is still wrapping up the two-year process with a final drive-by of every piece of property. Snow in December and January set this final step back a few weeks, said David Francis, director of the county tax department. Francis said his staff has been working long hours, including Saturdays, to get it wrapped up.

“It is a complicated process,” Francis said. “It is something we take extremely seriously. We want to make this as accurate and as fair as possible.”

In North Carolina, counties are required to conduct a periodic mass appraisal of real estate — called a revaluation, or “reval” for short. Property taxes are based on property values — the more your property is worth the more taxes you pay. The reval is intended to level the playing field, bringing the county’s assessed value of your property in line with the true market value so everyone is paying their fair share come tax day.

Haywood County commissioners will set the property tax rate in June, which is related to but not contingent on the results of the reval.

This reval will be a different story compared to the last reval in 2006 at the height of the mountain land rush when property owners saw their values double, triple or even quadruple.

The county actually postponed its revaluation from 2010 to 2011 because the real estate market was still in flux, making it difficult for appraisers to determine new market values for property accurately.

Haywood County is one of the first mountain counties to wade into a reval since the real estate crash.

Swain County did a reval two years ago but tossed it out rather than enact it. Swain is now shooting for 2012 instead. Macon County was on schedule to do a reval this year, but postponed it until 2013.

Jackson County is still in limbo about whether and by how much to postpone its reval.


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