If you own property in Larimer County you should have received a postcard this week from the Larimer County Assessor with information concerning your ‘Notice of Value’. This NOV is the Assessors estimate of the value of your property which will be the basis for the 2013 property tax. Note that the Assessor is sending the basic information in post card format to save on printing and postage costs. Full size notices will be available online in ‘PDF’ format at www.larimer.org/assessor. Real property is reappraised every two years and the assessor has previously used an eighteen month period to compare market data ending in June of the previous year. However, for this assessment they have used two years of data: July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2012. In discussing this with Steve Miller, the Larimer County Assessor, he states that “the minimum 18-month period was specified in the early 1980’s because assessor offices then could not process a lot of date. The eighteen month period is not an accurate data collection period because whatever seasonality exists in the real estate markets will be misstated. Having a data collection period that includes two winters, two springs, one summer and one fall is hard to justify on analytical grounds.” In addition, Colorado property tax law allows the assessor to use up to sixty months of data and according to Miller, they did look back over the sixty month period to bring more sales into their analysis but all sales are time trended or market trended to give more weight to sales occurring during the two year period ending June 30, 2102.
According to Miller, residential values in the Fort Collins area are up about 4.5% on average and up 2.1 % in the Loveland / Berthoud area. Estes Park experienced a 5.2% decline and the values in the rest of Larimer County, including the burn areas, were down 11.2% on average. In total Larimer County was up 1.9%.
We have reported sales statistics and average selling prices to you on a regular basis so we checked the Assessors numbers against our MLS numbers. In the Fort Collins area, which includes Laporte, Timnath and Wellington, the average sales price for the two year period ending June 30, 2012 was $247,959 compared to $236,862 for the two year period ending June 30, 2010. This is an increase of 4.7%. We need to remember that these sales figures are only for properties sold through the multi-list system. The Assessor has access to additional data including building permits for new construction, renovation and improvement, for sale by owner transactions, reassessment data from protests and even drive by appraisals plus they used weighted data from a five year period instead of just the two years ending June 30, 2012. Still, it is interesting that the Assessors 4.5% average increase in assessed values is almost identical to the 4.7% increase in the MLS values.
Obviously the rate for any individual property, neighborhood, subdivision or community may vary widely from the averages. Naturally, if you think the value of your assessment is too low, that is probably the end of it. But, if you think the value is too high, you have until June 3, 2013 to file an appeal. To appeal you need to mail a protest or you can send a fax, appear in person or you can go online to www.larimer.org/assessor and complete a protest. As for the research into your appeal, you can deal with comparable sales and market information for the entire five year period ending June 30, 2012. Sales information since July 1, 2012 may not be considered in your appeal, although with the way the market is going, this should not be a handicap. To assist you there is sales information on display at the Assessors office or on line at their web site. You can also call a real estate professional to help you with comparable sales information.
Other than the ‘Notice of Value’ the other two factors that influence your property tax bill are the ‘Assessment Percentage’ and the ‘Mill Levy’. For residential property, the assessment percentage is currently 7.96% of the assessed value and the mill levy for Fort Collins is 90. The property tax calculation on a residential property with an assessed value of $280,000 would then be:
$280,000 x 7.96 / $1,000 x 90 = $2,006.
Remember that the County Assessor is only responsible for assessed values; they are not responsible for taxes and are only charged with spreading the tax burden as fairly as possible. We would like to thank Steve Miller and his staff for the information they have provided and we think you will find his department very helpful with any questions or concerns you may have.