Congrats, your home is worth a lot more - East Valley Tribune: Business

Congrats, your home is worth a lot more

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Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2006 5:35 am | Updated: 4:20 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

It’s not a bill. But it’s a number that will likely get your attention. More than 1.3 million people in Maricopa County will receive a “Notice of Value” from the assessor’s office within the next two weeks.

“Notices will be mailed on the 27th to every single property owner in Maricopa County,” said Keith Russell, Maricopa County’s assessor.

That number — just less than what your house can be sold on the open market for — will likely be significantly higher than what it was last year.

While Russell would not commit to 30 percent to 50 percent higher valuations, “depending on where you are, it could be in those ranges,” he said. “It’s two years worth of appreciation, and I think everybody understands that their home values have gone up dramatically.”

Those higher figures may not necessarily translate to a higher tax bill, experts say. “Your property tax bill will only go up if your tax rate goes up. The issue is the tax rate,” said Jay Butler, an Arizona State University professor and director of the Arizona Real Estate Center at ASU Polytechnic.

Schools, cities and fire districts set the tax rates, which are then computed against the valuation to generate a final tax bill, Butler said.

And those budgets are still being hammered out by those different groups, Russell said.

“It will go up, down or stay the same depending on what each budget is, and we won’t know what the budget is for another 18 months,” Russell said. Summer marks the time when organizations present budgets that are typically adopted in August for the next year.

A property tax bill is made up of taxes to pay for education (about 70 percent), county and city (about 10 percent each), and special funding districts or bonds (about 7 percent), Russell said.

Butler said that with higher property valuations, cities can lower their tax rates to generate the same amount of money. But even if the budgets increase, “if everybody’s assessment goes up together, the pro-rata share that they owe for whatever the budget is won’t change dramatically,” Russell said.

Valuations sent out this month will be used to calculate taxes for 2007 based on adopted budgets. The Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office will send homeowners a tax bill in 2007, with the first tax payment due in the fall of 2007.

While that may seem a long way off, timing is important.

Homeowners who disagree with the valuation figures sent this month can appeal those numbers, but they have to file a notice of appeal within 60 days, Russell said.

“We work up these numbers in 2005. They get mailed out before March 1 in 2006. And for most of 2006, there is an appeals process the owner can go through,” Russell said.

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