Assessed value of homes continues to rise sharply

The median value of houses in Island County that sold in May 2021 was nearly 30 percent higher than homes sold in May 2020.

The average homeowners in Island County may discover a significant increase when they receive a notice of value from the county Assessor’s Office this month.

Chief Appraiser Chad Falke said the average value in the county increased by about 9.83 percent for the 2021 notices, which are based on sales in 2020 and the first month of 2021. That’s the largest year-over-year value increase in at least the last five years.

The increase reflects the housing market over the last year, which was driven to new heights by a dearth of new listings, the chief appraiser said Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported that the median sale price of homes in Island County increased by 14 percent, $370,000 to $422,000, from 2019 to 2020.

The number of active listings in the county decreased by 53.79 percent from 2019 to 2020.

Falke explained that the county is divided into six areas and the Assessor’s Office physically inspects one area each year. This year it was area 4, which covers the Clinton and Langley area.

Area 4 had the highest increase in value, at an average 12.72 percent. But Falke said it’s not unusual for the area that was physically inspected to see larger growth in value.

The average increase in Oak Harbor was 10.21 percent.

In addition, the average value of commercial property increased by 8.5 percent, the value of condos increased by 10.5 percent and the value of vacant property remained relatively flat, Falke said.

The change in average value can vary significantly each year. For 2020 — based on the previous year’s sales — the value change was an increase of 4.97 percent; for 2019, the increase was 9.23 percent; for 2018, it was a 7.06 percent increase; in 2017 it was 5.68 percent higher; and in 2016, the increase was 5.68 percent.

The chief appraiser reminds homeowners that an increase in a home’s value doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in property taxes, but depends on how a home’s value changes compared to neighbors.

“A 10 percent increase in value doesn’t mean a 10 percent increase in taxes,” he said.

As he explained, a taxing district — whether a school district, a city or so on — is limited in increasing property tax revenues by 1 percent without a new levy. An increase in property value doesn’t mean districts will get more tax money. A home with a value that increased by the average may only see a 1 percent change in taxes.

The dramatic increase in housing values has continued this year in the county and statewide.

The median value of houses in Island County that sold in May 2021 was nearly 30 percent higher than homes sold in May 2020, Multiple Listing Service reported. That was an increase from $405,000 to $525,000.

The number of active listings in the county decreased by 47 percent in the same period, but the number of closed sales actually increased by a sizable 34 percent.

Statewide, the median value of houses that sold in May 2021 was 30 percent higher than homes sold in May 2020. That’s a jump from $450,000 to $585,000 in one year. The number of active listings decreased by 46.58 percent from May 2020 to May 2021, but the number of closed sales increased by a whopping 57.36 percent.

“The dramatic increase in prices and low inventory just continue in such a way that although we have more inventory coming on the market, it is immediately absorbed because of a demand that simply cannot be met,” said John Deely, Northwest Multiple Listing Service director and executive vice president of operations at Coldwell Bank Bain.

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