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VALUES UP — With buyers looking to relocate to rural areas as working remotely becomes the new reality, housing prices in Haywood are skyrocketing. That means property values will be up as well, as most will understand when they receive their reappraisal letters this month.

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When Haywood County property owners receive notice of their new property values, almost everyone will notice a big jump from the value of four years ago.

County leaders caution that the higher value reflected on the notice should not create panic. That’s because rising property values can be a good thing and are totally separate from what the tax bill will ultimately be.

During Monday’s board meeting, Tax Assessor Judy Hickman told commissioners the new market values that have been determined through an 18-month-long reappraisal will be mailed out later this month or the first of April.

Jimmy Tanner, president of Tanner Valuation, has been assisting the county in the process.

“There are two important things people need to realize,” he said in a later interview. “Property values are going up and are going up drastically. Secondly, they need to understand this is only half the equation.”

The second factor that will determine the property tax due on a parcel is the tax rate set by the county.

Last year that rate was 58.5 cents for every $100 of value. During Monday’s meeting, the commissioners said the rate will most certainly be lowered.

State law requires counties to provide the “revenue neutral” tax rate, which is especially useful in reappraisal years. This is a tax rate that, when levied against the total value of property in the county, would yield the same amount of revenue as the previous year.

“Unfortunately, we do the values before they do the tax rates,” Tanner said.

In most neighborhoods across the county, Tanner said property values will increase by 25% to 45%. In the event there has been renovation that wasn’t previously noticed, the value will jump even higher.

“We’ve seen properties that sold for $80,000, were renovated and are now valued at $240,000,” he said. “If people just look around at what things are selling for, they will understand.”

Ideally, property owners should hope the value of their investment increases.

“Nobody wants to buy a property and lose money,” Tanner said. “A house is probably the biggest investment someone will have.”

“Honestly,” said Hickman, “it’s the people who have lived here all their lives and have no intention to sell who will be the hardest to explain this to.”

Raw land property values have increased, but not at the rate of residential properties, he said. Commercial prices are up as well, but most values increased between 15 and 25%, he added.

Appeal process

There will be two ways property owners can appeal the value placed on their property. For the first time ever, the county is using an electronic appeal option since in-person meetings are being suspended due to COVID.

Through the electronic appeal, every bit of information that was used to determine the new value will be available. Those who prefer to speak with an appraiser can simply call.

There are any number of reasons those handling the reappraisals may not have all the information needed, which is the reason for the appeal process, Tanner said. For instance, a house might have termite damage, or there could be right-of-way issues, structural issues or other problems that aren’t apparent from looking at a home.

That is why there is an appeal process, Tanner said. All a property owner needs to do is explain the situation and provide documentation.

“As tax professionals, we know everything is not exactly perfect, but that’s why we have an appeal process,” he said. “People don’t need to get tore up when they receive their notice. If a value is not correct, there are avenues for them to provide information so we can fix it.”

Two reasons that will not be considered valid for an appeal is that the property increased too much from last time or that owners don’t believe they can afford to pay the tax, Tanner said.

“What you bought or sold property for more than one or years ago is not a valid reason we could use,” he said. “We have to go by recent sales. That people just don’t want a value that high is not a reason we can consider.”

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