A January 11 townhall meeting hosted by the Point Roberts Taxpayers Association featured Whatcom County Assessor, Rebecca Xczar who discussed increases in local property values.
Attended by 40 participants online and in person, Xczar explained the reasons behind the adjustments affecting Point Roberts properties.
With four years in office and over 20 years’ experience as an appraiser, Xczar explained that appraisal rates are calculated and adjusted yearly by using the ratio of the assessed value to the market value.
“We are primarily looking at sale prices. What somebody’s willing to pay sets your market,” she said. Where Point Roberts may not see as many sales as the rest of the county, the assessor looks at sales data for the past three years.
Also, each year one-sixth of Whatcom County is physically inspected to update property information and reviewing individual assessed values. Last inspected in 2021, Point Roberts is scheduled for an inspection in 2027.
Comparative values for the most recent assessments are based on sales that took place between January 1, 2021 and July 31, 2023. During that period, 208 properties with a total value of $63,052,403 were sold. Prices ranged from $7,000 to $2,075,000 for an average sale of $303,137.
Last year, the state department of revenue sent Xczar a letter informing her that Whatcom County’s assessments were too low. The median ratio should be between 90-110 percent. To address the issue, adjustments were made to bring property values to 100 percent of market value.
In Point Roberts, the 2023 statistical update resulted in property value increases ranging from 6.5 to 28 percent, depending on property type, with single-family homes typically seeing a 9.5 percent increase.
“Historically we have been very conservative with our assessed values because there was very limited data, but then that creates years when we realize we are so far from the ratios, which is part of the last few years of trying to catch up to where we should be,” said Xczar.
There is hope for next year, according to Xczar, “This next year we likely will not see any large increases like we have in the past few years. The market has calmed down, and now we’re closer to the state- required ratio.”
Two voter-approved measures in 2023, namely the fire district’s levy lift and the regular property tax levy for the Point Roberts Park and Recreation District, will impact 2024 taxes. For a $500,000 property, taxes will see an increase of $225 per year for fire services and $40 for parks.
Appeals for property assessments go to the Board of Equalization, a quasi-judicial office authorized by the state legislature to hear appeals.
“Per state law, we have the presumption of correctness, which means that the property owner is required to prove that our value is incorrect,” Xczar explained.
Xczar highlighted property tax exemptions for senior citizens and disabled individuals, outlining eligibility criteria based on age, disability, ownership and residency. The income thresholds for exemptions vary, with the lowest threshold set at $30,000 for 2020-2023 and $37,000 for 2024-2026 per household.
For further information, an interactive tax parcel viewer can be accessed at whatcomcounty.us/177/Assessor.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here