- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
While statewide assessed property values have increased for the first time in five years, Charles County properties fell in value for the sixth consecutive year by 4.2 percent, according to state assessment data released last week.
The total assessed value of the county’s 2014 assessment group — properties in western Charles County — came in at more than $3.7 billion, a notch below the $3.8 billion it was worth in 2011.
The county’s residential properties are responsible for the decline, losing $182.3 million in value over the past three years for a 4.9 percent decrease. Meanwhile, commercial property values increased by 4.9 percent, for a gain of $13.7 million.
More than 68 percent of the 14,141 county homes that were part of this year’s assessment group fell in value since 2011. Overall, 62 percent of the 18,991 properties saw their value drop.
The overall 4.2 percent dip is the lowest decrease since the county first saw its property values begin to fall in 2009 with a 4.6 percent drop in that year’s assessment group. State law requires that properties be assessed every three years.
Though most counties have seen property values plummet in recent years amid nationwide economic distress, the county’s streak is matched with Worcester County for the longest run of assessment declines in the state.
But as is often the case, the county’s property assessments might be playing catch up to the real estate market. At the county’s annual economic summit in October, Baltimore economist Anirban Basu said a shrinking inventory of locally for-sale homes meant the housing market was on the rise. A week later, during a presentation before the county commissioners, Basu said he expected housing prices to begin rising in earnest this spring.
“Assessed values are not necessarily indicative of market value,” said Paula L. Martino, lobbyist for the Southern Maryland Association of Realtors. “Our trends have been prices are trending upward, listings and days on market are trending downward. We don’t have a glut of listings, and that’s suggesting an equilibrium in supply and demand, so those are very good signs for the market.”
County commissioners’ Vice President Reuben B. Collins II (D) said the bulk of declining assessments can be attributed to the stark devaluation of larger-scale homes during the recession.
“When I talk to people in the housing industry, they distinguish the housing values in the county, and they’ve kind of made it clear that where we’re seeing the biggest drop is, when we were having the serious housing boom we were building those McMansions, and they have devalued,” Collins said. “Those in the housing community, they cite where the actual value in housing in our county is more related to the midrange housing [between] $180,000 and $250,000. That’s where the real value is in this market.”
This year’s assessment group claimed both the county’s last increase in property values — a 41.4 percent spike in 2008 — and its largest percentage drop in value during the recession. Its 26.6 percent decrease in 2011 came sandwiched between a 19.8 percent fall in 2010 and 15.2 percent decline in 2012. Last year, the 2010 group saw its property values decrease again by 6.8 percent.
Elsewhere in Southern Maryland, property assessments fell for the fifth consecutive year in both Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, by 2.9 and 2.2 percent, respectively.
In Prince George’s County, residential property values went up by 4.2 percent, following a 21.5 percent decline in last year’s assessment group.
Roughly 53 percent of homes assessed across the state increased in value since 2011, for an overall gain of 1.3 percent. Commercial property values went up in 14 of the state’s 24 jurisdictions, for a statewide increase of 16.3 percent.
This year’s assessments are based on 51,309 sales that occurred within the reassessment area since it was last assessed in 2010. Property values increases are phased in during the three-year cycle, while decreases are applied fully all three years.