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Home value increasing? How to make sure your assessment is correct

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With significant increases in property values, homeowners in western Washington are feeling the pinch. But how do you know if your assessment is accurate or fair?

First time homeowner Sheldon Joseph should be excited to see the value of his investment going up.  Instead, he’s more concerned about what it could mean for his taxes.

“As a new homeowner to get these surprises and not really get an explanation as to why,” said Joseph.

Joseph’s house is in a pretty remote area of Auburn, on one-tenth of an acre and backs up to power lines. Despite all that, the value has gone up nearly $20,000. Joseph isn’t the only facing these increases. A King County website that analyzes the housing market shows an $85,000 increase in median home values in the last two years. Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, said 2013 is when people began to believe in the market again.

“The price growth being something we’ve seen coming out of the trough,” said Gardner. “They’ve been lagging behind for several years. So we tend to find that the real value is generally speaking far higher than the assessed value. So there’s some catch up and the trouble is when you find that catch up, it obviously hits our pocket books a little bit harder than one would like to see,” explained Gardner.

According to the King County Assessor’s office, says the only delay is that your home value is assessed once a year – in early January.

“Your notices goes out usually summer fall so we are usually about 10 months behind the active market because we are telling you what happened in the past versus what happened in the future,” said Tre Maxie with the King County Assessor’s office.

Looking to appeal the assessed value of your home? First, go to your county assessor’s page and check the characteristics listed for your home. Make sure the bedrooms, bathrooms and square footage are correct and call your assessor to make sure their notes about your property are correct. Here’s a tip…ask to see them.

“So if we’re saying you got a new roof, and you haven’t purchased a roof in 20 years, let us know,” said Maxie. “There’s over 700-thousand parcels in our county so surely there’s going to be some that perhaps we don’t have correct.”

As for Joseph, he ran the numbers and could be in for nearly $4,000 in taxes next year – a $200 increase. Remember, that’s in remote King County. Now he wonders about the future.

“My concern is the pattern. What’s it going to be like in 5 years? What’s it going to be like in 10 years?” questioned Joseph.

The assessor’s office reminds people that home values raise taxes less than levies do. Another important note – if you plan to appeal your assessed value you only have 60 days from the time you receive your notice in the mail. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the next year.

Click here for a link of all Washington state assessor pages.

Do you have a story you want me to check out? Call 1-844-77-JESSE (53773) or send me a message here. I’ll be part of KIRO 7 Eyewitness News most weekdays at 5:15 p.m. You can also check out my Facebook page and click here to follow me on Twitter.

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