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Home Prices, Assessor Values may be Similar

Home Prices, Assessor Values may be Similar

3/12/2006

Home Prices, Assessor Values may be Similar

Speculating on how much your home’s value had climbed was the hot topic at cocktail parties, business lunches and even at kids’ soccer games last year.

So why are people now shocked when they open up their new property-tax assessments?

Homeowners, myself including, in metropolitan Phoenix have been pretty spoiled by low property taxes. And value assessments, until recently, have typically lagged quite a bit. The lag is due partially to the two-year assessment cycle Maricopa County has used. But the Assessor’s Office is changing to an annual cycle, which will catch price changes more quickly.

Those whose jaws dropped when they saw their new valuations can appeal. If the assessment includes more rooms, space or amenities than your house actually has, you might have a chance.

But after an initial look at the assessor’s new values and where home prices are Valley-wide, real estate analysts say it doesn’t look like the two are out of whack.

The hit to homeowners will come if municipalities and schools see this as the time to cash in on higher home values and raise taxes, says Jay Butler, director of the Arizona Real Estate Center at Arizona State University Polytechnic.

Building for the boomers

It’s the tale of two Sun Cities. For the first time, builder Del Webb, which is owned by Pulte Homes, is going to start two of its signature “active adult” communities in the Valley at once.

The developer will bookend the Valley’s current big-growth hubs with its new developments. One is going up west of the White Tank Mountains, and the other is in Pinal County and part of its Anthem at Merrill Ranch project.

The baby boomers are prompting Del Webb’s bullish stance on the Valley’s housing market, said Jacque Petroulakis of Pulte. The two new ones will make 5 Sun Cities in the Valley.

Big month for builders
Could the Valley’s home-building market be rallying? Several big home builders are reporting strong sales for February, which is usually a slow month for housing.

Some recent sales bonanzas on “spec homes,” houses built on the speculation that someone will buy them, likely helped.

But it could also be that, after slowing during the last part of 2005, demand for new homes is picking back up.

Home prices aren’t climbing at the insane rate they did last year and interest rates are still low, so some buyers, particularly from out-of-state, could be back in the market.

Also, builders have started paying real estate agents commissions again, and that has to help.

Builders are still bullish on metro Phoenix because the area recently attracted another builder.

David Weekley Homes, one of the largest private builders in the country, is going to put up homes in the southwest Valley’s Estrella Mountain Ranch.

Source: Arizona Republic, March 12, 2006

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