Local property values skyrocketing | AspenTimes.com
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Local property values skyrocketing

Janet Urquhart

The upper valley’s booming real estate market will hit home for most property owners a year from now – whether or not they’ve bought or sold something recently.

Sales for a two-year period, through June 30, will form the basis for the values the Pitkin County assessor’s office assigns to property when it sends out new notices of valuation in May 2007.

“We’re projecting some mouths will drop,” Assessor Tom Isaac said.

His office is preparing to send notices to some 1,000 to 1,500 property owners this year on May 1 – only those whose property has seen some alteration. But the revaluation of all property, which occurs every two years, happens again in 2007. Isaac’s office will be working throughout this year on updating property values for the notices it sends out next spring to some 14,000 property owners. The new values will be based, in large part, on the sale of similar properties. And sales are hot.

“It’s remarkable what the real estate values have done in the last two years,” he said.

Isaac’s office tracks real estate transactions in the county, comparing the purchase price with the value his staff assigned to properties in 2005, the last revaluation year. Those values were based on sales that occurred in the two-year period ending June 30, 2004.

The comparisons are eye-opening. For example, an Enclave condo in Snowmass Village sold earlier this month for $890,000 – up 37 percent from the $648,400 value the assessor’s office had placed on the unit. A lot on West Smuggler Street in Aspen recently sold for $2.2 million – up 60 percent from the $1.4 million value assigned to it. An Aspen condo sold for $3.6 million, up 96 percent from the $1.95 million value assigned it in 2005. An Owl Creek home that sold for $4.4 million earlier this month had an actual value of $2.8 million when Isaac’s office last valued the property. That’s a 56 percent jump.

It’s not that the old values assigned to the properties were off-base, Isaac added. The state audits his office to confirm its appraisals are accurate and market-based.

“Those were market values two years ago,” he said. “Values aren’t going down. It’s unbelievable. It’s a very strong market.”

That’s not to say every property is seeing those kinds of increases, though plenty of them are, Isaac said.

“Not every house is worth half again as much as it was two years ago. I don’t want people to panic,” he said.

The rising values are a double-edged sword for the property owner – on the one hand, the asset is increasing in value, but on the other, property tax bills are based on the property’s value.

Although this year is not a revaluation year, any owner, during the month of May, may protest the value assigned to his or her property in person at the assessor’s office, by mail or by fax at 920-5174.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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