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Home values in Calvert County remain below their pre-recession highs. But they are gaining ground from their recession lows. That’s the message from the latest round of property assessments announced at the end of the year.Properties in Calvert County are assessed every three years. Last year it was the turn of the northern central part of the county — the area from Route 2 south to Broomes Island, and home values were down 11.4 percent from 2010. The recession hangover in the real-estate market lingers. However, there’s evidence that it is easing. Last year, when commercial properties were figured in along with home values, assessments dropped in three years. In 2012, when southern Calvert County was reassessed, property values were down around 16 percent from three years earlier.

Those who have suffered the most are those who bought their homes during the boom times. When properties were reassessed in the early part of the past decade, the increase in values was astounding. Many homeowners who bought during those years likely remain underwater, with their current home values considerably less than the amount of the mortgage they still owe. Some of them might have already lost their homes. Those were the years when banks were making loans without adequate credit checks. Those who bought their homes after the crash are faring better, with lower mortgages and lower property tax bills than they would have had a few years earlier. Meanwhile, for those who remained in their homes through the last decade, signs are that the value of their home is returning, though still well below the peak. The silver lining of lower property value, however, doesn’t exist for most of these people living in their own home.That’s because of the homestead tax credit, which caps taxable assessment increases each year at 7 percent. Tax bills are still catching up to those wild assessment hikes earlier in the last decade. How this roller-coaster ride affects individual homeowners depends entirely on when they bought their house.Going forward, much depends on whether home values have indeed stabilized. A spokeswoman for the local Realtors association says her group is hopeful that the market has hit bottom and will continue to rise. The action of Congress to back away from the “fiscal cliff” and keep taxes from rising dramatically for most people is a good sign for the economy.