To the editor:
The Douglas County appraiser says that he still does not consider most distressed or foreclosure sales on residential property as indicative of fair market value. Banks, he argues, are unloading the properties quickly to get the properties off their books.
Welcome to the bureaucratic world of magical thinking. It helps explain the jiggering, up or down a percentage point, in Douglas County assessments during the recession, even though home prices nationally are down 30 percent from their pre-recession highs.
A homeowner may like a high appraisal because it confirms his optimistic view of a property’s worth. But a home seller must compete in a brutal market where “fair market value” is trumped by real bids.
Meantime, the Douglas County administrator is quoted as saying that compared with the rest of the nation, real estate values “have held up remarkably well here.” He is applying the county appraiser’s ambrosia, a mutually enforcing illusion that suits public officials who find it expedient to live in denial. It would be better to ‘fess up to reality and, if necessary, raise the property tax rate while restoring the credibility and integrity of the appraisal process.