Hundreds informally appeal tax revaluation

Mar. 08, 2013 @ 05:03 AM

Marby Getty has spent the last four years attempting to sell her Carolina Trace home in order move closer to her daughter in Greensboro.

So it came as a surprise when she saw her newly assessed property value was $20,000 more than her home’s asking price of $164,900.

“We were just like ‘Wow, that’s high,’” Getty said. “We’d love to sell it for $184,900.” She noted that the house originally appraised for $249,000 four years ago.

Getty intends to join the hundreds of other Lee County residents appealing their 2013 property tax values.

The Lee County Tax Administration Department released residential property tax values in mid-February and nearly 700 people have filed for an informal appeal to the tax department as of Thursday, according to Lee County Manager John Crumpton.

Property revaluations, required at least every eight years under state statute, are done to align property values based on historical sales.

“Every time you have a revaluation, you expect a certain number of appeals,” Crumpton said. “We expected this in our estimates,    and we probably raised our estimates because of the number of appeals around the state. With the recession, people have more reason to question the values at greater rates than in years past.”

Lee County’s last revaluation was done at the height of the real estate boom in 2007. There were more than 1,300 informal appeals to the tax department and 264 formal appeals to the Lee County Board of Equalization and Review in 2007.

Of the 680 informal appeals filed so far this year, 105 are from commercial or industrial properties and 575 are residential properties, Crumpton said. Of those, 319 have already been processed and resolved. If a resident is not satisfied with the informal appeal with the county tax appraisers, they can appeal to the local county board.

A majority of the appeals have come from within Carolina Trace and west Sanford, Crumpton said.

“These type of appeals mostly concern measurements of homes that may be wrong, or many we have seen have a building listed that has been removed,” Crumpton said. “Most of the changes right now are what we call clerical-type corrections. When it gets to the (Board of Equalization and Review), that’s when it gets to real questions about market value.”

Real estate agent Tom Ryan, of Century 21 Southern Realty, said several of his clients have asked questions concerning the new values.

“Basically, many aren’t aware of where the new numbers are coming from,” he said. “The homes’ supposed selling price is nowhere near what can be demanded in the marketplace.”

Ryan is working with Getty, and he intends to send information to her for the appeal. Getty, who has moved 17 times in her lifetime, said she’ll be glad when the process is over.

“Our retirement is already in jeopardy, and we’re in our 70s,” she said. “We need every penny to live on. We just think [the taxes are] too high.”

The Board of Equalization and Review will more than likely meet in April, Crumpton said, and the group will decide the deadline to cutoff appeals.

Based on the revaluation, the county is projected to stay revenue neutral — meaning the county will not have to lower or raise the property tax based on revenue increases or decreases, Crumpton said. The current property tax rate is 75 cents per $100 of valuation, and some members of the Lee County Board of Commissioners have expressed interest in lowering that rate.