Property taxes going up in some metro Denver neighborhoods

Denver Assessor: Increases in only 40% of city

DENVER - Walk through the Highlands neighborhood in Denver you'll see parks and schools -- all reasons why some homeowners here are facing double-digit increases in their property assessment.

"It went up more than I would have expected," said homeowner Matt Douglas.

Douglas, his wife, Alex Band, and their children, have lived here for nine years.

They're dealing with an increase of 10 percent, while others nearby are seeing a 15 percent surge.

"A lot of people have to budget for these things.  And to have such a dramatic increase without any notice is tough,” said Band.

7NEWS checked with the Denver assessor’s office.   Besides the Highlands, some homeowners in Montbello, Belcaro, University Park, Whittier and Hilltop also saw hikes of more than 15 percent; in part because of new amenities and development in established parts of the city.

Some homeowners in other areas saw dramatic dips, including Hampden, University Hills and Westwood.           

"A good share of the city on the other hand actually stayed the same or went down.  So when we look at the balance, it's almost 60 percent of residential property owners will see a decrease in tax bills versus the 40 percent that will see an increase of some percentage," said assessor Paul Jacobs.    

Listed below (by county) is more information on the 2013 Reappraisal:

-- Arapahoe County --

Although the current market is showing signs of recovery, not all areas are reflecting a positive increase for tax year 2013.  Using sales prior to the June 30, 2012 appraisal date, Arapahoe County experienced a wide range of residential valuation changes. 

In general, tax year 2013 residential valuation is healthier than 2011 where we saw an overall decrease of -4.8%.  Excluding apartments, for 2013 we reappraised 179,850 residential properties where values are still recovering with a modest countywide residential values decrease of less than -1%. 

The largest reductions in residential values occurred in central to northern part of Aurora with continued weakness in Englewood, Sheridan and part of Littleton.  The City of Centennial and Greenwood Village had the strongest residential increase in value. 

The apartment market remains strong with vacancies trending downward and rents rising.  Overall, apartment/multi-family properties are seeing a substantial increase from the last revaluation.

The commercial real estate market continues to improve.  With a decrease in vacancy, a slight increase in rents we are seeing an improved commercial sales volume resulting in an increase of value. 

On the eastern part of Arapahoe County, we have over 300,000 acres of agricultural property.  Our results are indicating an increase in value due to the boost in commodity prices.  Some of the increase was off-set by higher expenses but the net result is still positive. 

Contrary to the last several years, we are experiencing an increase in land subdivisions. Construction activity is once again on the rise.  Overall, Arapahoe County will see a flat to slight increase in value.

-- Denver County --

While much improved from the last reappraisal cycle in 2011, Denver’s 2013 property tax valuations were mixed.  Of the eight major property groups tracked, all generally increased in value except for residential condominiums and single-family detached dwellings.

Leading the way to higher ground were large apartment structures, up an average of +22.6%.  Hotels, which had lost over 16% of their value two years ago, gained +13.6%.  Also on the plus side were offices (+4.4%), warehouses/manufacturing (+3.9%) and retail properties (+1.9%).

At the other end of the spectrum, residential condominiums on average lost -7.5% in 2013 extending their -5.8% value decline from 2011.  Single family detached, townhouses and row houses combined for a -0.9% drop.

Of Denver’s 182,100 one family units, 59% decreased in value while 41% increased.  Average value changes in the City’s 77 residential neighborhoods ranged from -24.6% in Sun Valley (west central) to +9.5% in Whittier (north central).

Anticipating usual adjustments following release of notices of values, Denver’s taxable assessment property base is estimated to increase by +3.3% this year compared to a decrease of over -8% back in 2011.  

-- Douglas County --

In Douglas County, the strongest and most stable residential market continues to be the northern area of the county including Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree and some parts of Parker; however overall changes in property value shows only small increases.  Custom homes, acreage properties and other high end residential real estate have not experienced improved market conditions as of the appraisal date and some values will decrease over 5%.  Generally, the residential market is compressing with entry-level housing having more increases and higher-end housing more decreases.  The change in residential valuation countywide showed an increase of over 1%. 

The northern tier of Douglas County also saw the strongest market for commercial properties, with modest increases and decreases along the 470 corridor.  Older areas of Castle Rock and Sedalia experienced some decreases in value.  The 5% overall increase in commercial value is chiefly attributed to apartment complexes, general office and retail properties.  These types of property have stabilized, and based on low vacancy rates and increasing rental prices have seen growth in value.  On the other hand, commercial condominiums, including office and retail condos have continued to experience a decline in value.  Vacant land values have begun to stabilize, but the market is still affected by the quantity of distressed transactions.

Douglas County has been successful in reducing the costs associated with mailing valuation information to property owners by sending postcards instead of the traditional long notices.  The postcards list the current property value, which should closely represent the market value as of June 30, 2012, and also includes a form with which to file an appeal.  A long form Notice of Valuation for 2013 will be available on the Douglas County Assessor’s website after May 1 for those who wish to view the entire Notice.

-- Jefferson County --

Jim Everson, Jefferson County Assessor, released the results of the 2013 revaluation of all real property in Jefferson County.  Notices of Valuation for 2013 will be sent to property owners on May 1, 2013.  The values in the 2013 notice will reflect the value of property as of June 30, 2012 as required by State law.  The last revaluation of the County was done in 2011. 

"County-wide, the median value of an existing single family home increased from $246,220 in 2011 to $247,015 in 2013,” said Everson.

The median percentage value increase for single family homes in the County was 0.3%. However, there was a lot of variability between neighborhoods which ranged from a 19.4% median increase to a -16.1% median decrease.  Areas showing median decreases were Westminster (-2.9%), Morrison (-2.2%) South Jeffco (-1.3%), Conifer (-1.2%), and Evergreen (-1.0%).  Areas showing increases were Golden (+1.9%), Wheat Ridge (+1.3%), Arvada (+1.2%) and Lakewood (+0.9%). 

“There was a lot a variability across the County,” said Everson, "Of course, individual properties can and will vary from these averages.  On the business side, actual values in the aggregate were unchanged.  However, apartments and other multi-family values increased significantly in value as did hotel/motel properties.  Office and retail and had slight increases, while industrial values remained stable. "

Everson went on to say that, "Because of the difference in assessment rates, 7.96% for residential and 29.00% for non-residential, and including new construction, the assessed value of real property increased by +1.9% over year-end 2012.  We expect to see some additional decrease in total assessed value for real property during appeals which means assessed values will be up just under 1% by year end."

If the average mill levy remains fairly constant at about 100 mills, residential property owners, on average, will pay about $8.00 in taxes for every $1,000 of the "Current Year Actual Value" shown on their Notice of Valuation.  Non-residential will average $29 per $1,000.  This will vary based on the specific mill levy for the tax district where the property is located.  Total mill levies for tax districts in the County range from 76.792 mills to 196.621 mills.  Thus, a residence with a $300,000 actual value could be subject to property taxes ranging from 1,834 to $4,695 depending on the tax district in which it is located

"If owners disagree with the values in the May 1 notice,” Everson said, “they need to appeal with my Office on or before June 1," stated Everson, “As always, I will make myself available to speak to interested groups to discuss details of the assessment calendar, valuation process and the appeals procedure."