If you’ve checked your mailbox today you may have found your new property assessment in the mail. And if your property is typical, your assessment should have gone down approximately 12.3% from last year’s level.
King County Assessor Scott Noble, in what is probably one of his last acts before heading off to jail, signed off last month on the 2009 Area Property Assessment Reports, including that for Madison Park/Leschi . These area reports are used to define the percentage by which property values in each area of the County will be adjusted for 2010 property-tax purposes. The map at left (click to enlarge) shows the area covered by the Madison Park/Leschi report. There are three geographic groupings represented: green is Madison Park proper (including Washington Park and Denny-Blaine), blue is Broadmoor, and red is Leschi and Madrona. The housing markets in all three sub units were analyzed together to produce one adjustment percentage for the entire area.
Here for comparative purposes is how our assessment adjustment of -12.3% compares to other Seattle neighborhoods:
Capitol Hill - down 13.9%
Fremont - down 17.1%
Magnolia - down 17.4%
Central Area - down 18.1%
Georgetown - down 19.3%
And here’s what some neighborhoods on the Eastside experienced:
Novelty Hill - down 14.1%
Woodinville - down 14.3%
Bellevue - down 15.3%
Sammamish - down 15.9%
Duvall - down 18.4%
So, if it’s any consolation to property owners in Madison Park, it appears that in the opinion of the Assessor, our community has held up better than any other area of the County (several area reports have still to be issued publicly, however).
After noting that they have historically taken a conservative approach to computing changes in market values, the County’s Department of Assessments this year says that “in the recent declining market, this approach was not an option. Instead, sales occurring prior to January 2009 were adjusted downward for use in the analysis process. An additional downward adjustment was warranted to account for lack of sales and the influence of distressed sales on the housing market. Most homeowners will see a significant reduction in the assessed value of their home.” For Madison Park/Leschi, 94.3% of homeowners will have their property value adjusted by the “standard area adjustment” of 12.31%. Some properties, including new houses and those that have been remodeled, will be adjusted on a different basis.
A caution is in order, however, lest anyone think that a 12.3% decline in property values means a 12.3% decrease in their 2010 property tax assessments. Far from it. The amount of tax each of us will owe next year will be determined in January 2010, and we will be notified of our 2010 tax bill in mid-February next year. The new tax rate (aka millage) that will be imposed next year will be determined by the funding needs of governments within the County, some of which were imposed by the voters through tax levies. As the Assessor’s Office puts it, “Property valuations do not determine the amount of overall property tax obligations. Property tax obligations are determined by 160 taxing districts in King County as they create their respective budgets for 2010 and are not determined nor set by the Assessor. Simply put, the amount of tax obligation is determined by the taxing districts and the distribution of the obligation is determined by property values.”
So the bottom line is that since Madison Park/Leschi held up better in the market downturn, the effect of this is to shift a greater burden to our community in meeting the overall tax obligations of the County. Hurray for us!
If you have not yet received your new property assessment and want to know what it is, you may access this information at the Department of Assessments website.