New Mesa County Property Values Could Be Misleading

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

On Friday, Mesa County residents will receive their new property value notices in the mail. Officials say while those numbers may look high, they want to warn residents that doesn't necessarily mean that's where those values are sitting right now.

In spite of the economic downturn, officials say property values in Mesa County are on the rise. The last time values were assessed in 2006, the median sale price of a single family home was a little more than $199,000. After the latest assessment, that number has jumped to more than $242,000 -- which officials say means property owners will likely see a bigger number when they get their notices of valuation later this week.

"Their valuation is probably going to be higher than they perceive it should be," said Mesa County Assessor Barbara Brewer.

And unfortunately, they say that feeling is correct. Brewer says because of the way state laws are written, the new values being sent out this week reflect the assessment from 2008 -- meaning the value you see on the sheet was what your home was worth last June, when the Grand Junction economy, and particularly the housing market, was still booming.

"What we had as of June 2008 doesn't necessarily reflect the current market," said Brewer.

Brewer says historically, property values have stayed steady or even increased during the 10 month span between the assessment and when the valuation reports are mailed out. But she says this time -- for the first time in 22 years -- she can't for sure say the value on your report matches the current value of your home in today's slumping market.

"For those people that are trying to sell their property and move, I feel bad for them," said Brewer. "For those that don't have to sell, just sit tight."

But she says Mesa County is faring better than most of the country, and it's only a matter of time before those numbers go back up and stay up.

"There will be a time when things will cycle back around and the values will come back up," said Brewer.

Officials say the new values will also play a role in determining your property taxes for the next two years. Property taxes are calculated using the following formula:

Assessed Value x Mill Levy = Property Tax Owed

Because most assessed values will go up as a result of the latest assessment, officials say there is a chance your property taxes will also increase -- it depends on whether the mill levy goes up or down. Mill levies are not finalized until counties set their budgets late in the year.

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