The latest assessed values of over 327,000 parcels of property throughout Pierce County have been mailed or emailed this week to the property owners. These 2020 values will be used as the basis for property taxes to be billed in February of 2021.
“Homes in all parts of our County continue to increase in value,” said Mike Lonergan, Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer. Overall, residential properties went up 8.8 percent this year, compared to 7.5 percent in 2019, due to a continued strong real estate market.
State law requires the Assessor-Treasurer to value properties as of January 1, so these values do not reflect any change that may result from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Actually, real estate sales have continued strong so far,” Lonergan said, “and if there is a softening of the market, that will begin to show up in next year’s assessed values.”
Lonergan cautioned homeowners not to jump to the conclusion that an increase in value will result in a tax increase. “It’s a math equation,” he said. “Your tax in 2021 will be the new 2020 value multiplied by the combined tax rates of your school district, city, fire district and so forth, added to the state and countywide property taxes that everyone pays. A lot depends on votes by the public and the Legislature.”
Countywide averages can be misleading, because values change at varying rates in different communities. “The increase in Tacoma was slightly above the County average, bringing the typical Tacoma residence to $351,000, which is an increase of nearly $30,000,” Lonergan explained. “By contrast Roy’s increase was the lowest at six percent, for an average 2020 home value of $262,000.”
The highest average value in the county is $534,000 in Gig Harbor, up from $489,000 in 2019. The greatest percentage increase from year to year was 10.8% in Orting, for a new average value of $323,000.
One group of homeowners, scattered throughout much of the county, will see especially large percentage increases this year. “Our depreciation tables were under-valuing most mobile homes by an average of 25%,” Lonergan said. “The demand for affordable housing has pushed resale prices for manufactured housing higher, and I am required by law to reflect that, so that everyone is taxed fairly.
He added that any property owner who believes the Assessor-Treasurer has over-valued their property may appeal to the Pierce County Board of Equalization at no cost. The appeal must be filed no later than August 24, 2020, providing evidence that comparable properties have sold recently at a lower amount. More information is available at www.piercecountywa.gov/atr.