Be forewarned, Douglas County homeowners: The national news about a tanking real estate market won’t exactly match up with the news you are about to receive from the county appraiser’s office.
Nearly seven out of 10 homeowners in Lawrence and Douglas County have had their property values hold steady or increase over the last year, according to the appraiser’s annual study of the real estate market.
“Compared to the national news, Lawrence is just unique,” said County Appraiser Steve Miles. “It always has been to a degree.”
The values — which are Miles’ estimate of how much a home would sell for on the market as of Jan. 1 — are a double-edged sword. Steady or rising values mean the real estate wealth of thousands of Douglas County residents is in better shape than once thought. But, the higher than expected values also may mean many residents will pay higher property tax bills than expected. The values are used to figure property taxes that will be due in late 2010.
Here’s a look at the details of the report:
l 40.6 percent of homes experienced no change in value from 2009;
l 32 percent of homes decreased in value, with most posting declines of less than 4 percent.
l 26.2 percent of homes increased in value, with the majority of those increases less than 3 percent.
Miles said a significant improvement in the local real estate market in the last half of last year buoyed values. Miles said federal tax credits for homebuyers, plus a general increase in confidence, likely were behind the second-half uptick.
Steve LaRue — an agent with McGrew Real Estate and president of the Lawrence Board of Realtors — said he’s in agreement with Miles’ report.
“The bottom line is that as long as you are price sharp, we can still sell your house,” LaRue said. “The time of overinflating the price and waiting for an offer to come along is pretty much gone.”
Property owners should receive their change of value notices from the county by early March. Property owners will have until March 30 to appeal the values.