County residential property values up 15-25%

Ryan Summerlin

Since the real estate market has been improving, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that residential values are up across the county, said Garfield County Assessor Jim Yellico.

The Garfield County assessor’s office has sent out about 30,000 notices, and increases in valuation have generally been at about 15 to 25 percent across the board.

The increases are pretty similar across the county. But during the last revaluation in 2015, properties in the western portion of the county didn’t see the kind of post-recession rebound as in other communities, so many of those properties are catching up now.

“In 2015, we were one of the largest increases in the state,” said Yellico. “This year that seems to be more in Denver, where they’re seeing 40 percent increases. But this year the theme in my head is ‘no surprises.’”

For residential properties, Colorado law requires county assessors to use only the “market approach,” meaning that only sales can be considered in determining valuations, said Yellico.

Because revaluations are done for residential properties every other year, these values will stand for 2017 and 2018.

When making these valuations, assessors also have to look at sales prior to the appraisal date, which in this case was June 30, 2016.

“So anything that happened after that date will affect the next reappraisal,” said Yellico. “Right now we’re seeing a big rebound in the Parachute market.” But that effect won’t be seen until the next revaluations in 2019.

Notices went out Monday, marking the beginning of a period when property owners can protest the valuation. During the entire month of May, property owners can protest the valuation by going to the assessor’s office, or by sending in an appeal by mail, fax or online.

You can appeal for different reasons: if you think the information about the property is wrong, the classification of the property is wrong or if you just think the value is flat out wrong, said Yellico. “You can show us your opinion of the value, and the more proof the better. So round up your sales, and we’ll look at the appeals that come in.

“At any time of the year, we’ll always look at your value, but you have the most rights in the month of May,” he said.

“It’s a very important month. If you find discrepancies in the material facts about the property, such as the square footage or the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, now’s the time to let us know and get it corrected,” he said. Property owners should take that step now to preserve their appeals rights moving forward.

If there is still disagreement about the property’s value, the next step would be to go to the board of equalization in July.

Last year, the county’s total valuation was $2.2 billion, half of which is made up of oil and gas properties.

Yellico said he’s definitely predicting a decrease for 2017 in Garfield County’s total valuation, due to natural gas production and price. But that number won’t be known until June, when oil and gas operators turn in their production numbers.

In the past, the percentage of the county’s total valuation made up by oil and gas was around 70 percent. But that value keeps dropping while other classes of property are going up. That trend takes some volatility out of the total valuation, but it looks like oil and gas valuations will climb up soon, said Yellico. “So local governments that rely on oil and gas as part of their valuation and revenue, I think are preparing for some relief next year.”

Commercial properties saw more modest increases below 10 percent. And vacant land values were similar, at 10 to 15 percent increases.

The increased residential property values don’t necessarily mean you’ll pay more in taxes. Colorado’s Gallagher Amendment, passed by voters in 1982, set the target percentage of what residential properties pay versus the other property classifications.

The Division of Property taxation has recommended that the residential assessment rate be reduced from 7.96 to 7.2 percent — which, when you apply that number to your actual value, makes for a 10 percent reduction in your assessed value.

Yellico said Friday that it does appear that this adjustment will happen. So there’s definitely going to be some cushion there for residential property owners, he said.

Notices were mailed out May 1, and property owners should have been receiving them throughout last week. If you did not get a revaluation notice, Yellico said you should contact his office.

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