The process to determine current market values on real properties in Alexander County for the 2023 countywide reappraisal is almost complete, according to Alexander County Tax Administrator Doug Fox.
Fox said the Alexander County Tax Office has been working for almost two years visiting all parcels in Alexander County to make sure the information on record relating to improvements and condition is accurate. At the same time, the office staff has been collecting and analyzing enormous amounts of sales data which will be used to determine the current market value for real property.
Property owners should be on the lookout for a mailing from the Alexander County Tax Office within the next two weeks. This mailing will contain their 2023 Notice of Property Value and general information about the reappraisal process and options available to property owners.
Fox said that property owners, for the most part, can expect a substantial increase in property values. North Carolina General Statutes require all North Carolina counties to perform a county reappraisal of property tax values a minimum of every eight years. Alexander County’s last reappraisal was conducted in 2015.
“At that time, Alexander County had just begun to recover from the 2008 recession and there was little to no growth in property values from the previous reappraisal,” Fox said. “From 2015 until around 2020, property values were on a steady upward trend. Beginning in 2020, sales on properties in Alexander County increased dramatically. The number of property sales accelerated at an unprecedented rate, but even more impactful is the dollar amount of those sales.”
Fox said that excise taxes on recorded deeds continue to indicate the dollar amounts on sales are at a rate of 75-100 percent more than the existing tax value. Property tax values can be likened to interest rates on mortgages, as home mortgage rates do not rise or drop during your mortgage period, even if bank mortgage rates change.
“Property tax values do not change during a reappraisal cycle. If market values drop between reappraisal years, tax values do not drop, just as they do not increase if market values increase. Thus, the need for a reappraisal to adjust property values to current market values,” Fox stated.
Fox said that new property value increases will vary across Alexander County. Areas with greater sales activity and higher sales prices will see larger percentage increases, areas with less sales activity and lowers sales prices will likely still see increases, but at smaller percentages, while commercial properties may see altogether different increases.
Property values will vary from property to property. Fox said that property owners can expect to see a 45-75 percent average increase in property values across the county. He said the Alexander County Tax Office is sensitive to the rising values in real properties, and continually stays in contact with surrounding counties and the trends they are experiencing.
While Alexander County is currently on an eight-year reappraisal cycle, some surrounding counties that are similar to Alexander are also doing 2023 reappraisals. Ashe, Catawba, Burke, and Alamance counties are doing four-year reappraisals and are experiencing the same dramatic increase as Alexander County is in its eight-year cycle. Ashe County is anticipating a 44 percent increase in value, Catawba County has announced a 69 percent increase in values, with Burke County at 40 percent, and Alamance at 80 percent.
Fox said the most commonly asked question during a reappraisal is always, “What does this mean for my tax bill?”
“A property tax bill is determined by the combination of property value and the property tax rate. The tax office is responsible for determining fair market value for real estate,” Fox said. “The Alexander County Board of Commissioners has the legal responsibility to set a property tax rate.”
Tax rates will be set during the budget process for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, with a budget to be adopted in June 2023. The combination of property value multiplied by the tax rate determines the dollar amount of a property tax bill.
Fox said that North Carolina General Statutes provide the option to taxpayers to appeal newly determined reappraisal values. The Notice of Value notices that residents will receive in the mail will explain those options.
“It is important to note that property owners will need documentation to appeal a property tax value. The fact that a taxpayer thinks their value is ‘too high’ is not a valid reason for tax value adjustments,” Fox noted. “Appraisals, incorrect information on tax records, and drastic differences in other Alexander County properties with similar characteristics are some examples of legitimate grounds for value adjustment.”
North Carolina Tax Offices are charged, by law, to calculate a “revenue neutral” tax rate as part of the reappraisal process. A revenue-neutral tax rate is a tax rate that, considering the new tax values, will produce the same amount of tax dollars as the previous year while allowing for normal growth trends.
Fox said that a revenue-neutral tax rate does not guarantee that all property tax bills will remain the same as the previous year. While there are those who predict that the current real estate market will adjust downward, current sales data indicates an active market with high demand and high sales prices.
The Alexander County Board of Commissioners will be advised of the revenue-neutral rate based on the reappraisal to help determine the new property tax rate during the 2023-2024 budget planning process.
Property owners who have questions or would like additional information should call the number provided on the notices they receive in the mail within the next two weeks.