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April 6, 2013
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In Pitkin County, property values are up, down or flat

ASPEN - Some Pitkin County property owners will see something they may not have seen in awhile when their property valuation notice arrives in the mail next month - an increase.

Property values have crept upward in some pockets of the county with the latest revaluation, particularly in the upper valley, according to Larry Fite, chief appraiser with the county assessor's office. But in some areas, particularly in the midvalley portion of the county, values remain in decline. For still other properties, values have remained flat with the 2011 revaluation, when the county saw an overall drop in property value of about 25 percent. The 2011 decrease varied significantly across the county, however, and some residential-property owners saw a decline in value of as many as 40 percent.

"This year, it's much more of a mixed bag, location by location," Fite said. "It's almost neighborhood specific. That's what has been the real challenge - there's no clear trend when you get to the upper end of the valley."

The assessor's office will send out a notice of valuation to all of the county's roughly 15,000 property owners on May 1. This is a revaluation year, meaning values have been adjusted based on sales of comparable properties over a two-year period that ended June 30, 2012. Property is revalued every two years across Colorado.

New this year, the notices will come in the form of folded, sealed postcards, allowing for a significant savings in postage costs, according to Fite.

The overall value of property in Pitkin County last year was $26.8 billion. The new value has yet to be calculated, but it likely will be down from the 2012 figure, according to Fite. He declined to estimate how much the decrease will be, but during budget deliberations last fall, the county was tentatively bracing for a 15 percent decline in property tax revenue in 2014. That revenue will be based on values assigned to property this year.

For properties that see an increase in value, it will be a modest jump, according to Fite.

Once property owners receive their notice, they have until June 3 to file an appeal with the assessor's office if they disagree with the value assigned to their property. Fite urged owners who decide to appeal to focus on their specific neighborhood when they look at sales of comparable properties.

"It's more important than ever that they look at sales in their neighborhood or, if it's a condo, other condos in the complex," he said.

Real estate sales last year in Pitkin County finished at a torrid pace, fueled by pending changes in the capital-gains tax laws. Sales totaled $1.49 billion in the county in 2012, an increase of 17.5 percent over 2011. It was the best year for total sales since 2007.

Sales that took place in the latter half of the 2012, however, weren't considered in the revaluation, as the cutoff was June 30.

"All those big sales at the end of the year ... it might mean that the market has started to come around, but we won't be able to use those sales until next time," Fite said.

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The Aspen Times Updated Apr 7, 2013 08:36AM Published Apr 6, 2013 09:46PM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.