Apr 23, 2015

Local homes keep growing in value

Park County homes continued to gain value in 2014 — which will likely mean somewhat higher property tax bills this year.

Park County Assessor Pat Meyer says residential properties in Powell and Cody generally rose in value by 3 to 5 percent between 2013 and 2014.
File photo courtesy woodleywonderworks under CC BY

“That’s pretty much due just to the way the market’s going,” Meyer said Tuesday. “We’re doing a little better, but no major increases.”

Among county homes with 10 acres of property or less, the median sales price last year was $215,000 — up about $2,000 from the year before, Meyer said. (The average sales price, which is more heavily influenced by exceptionally expensive properties, jumped up to $242,889 from 2013’s figure of $228,286.)

The number of sales also rose.

A total of 345 residential properties changed hands in 2014, Meyer said. That’s about two dozen more verified sales than were reported in 2013.

The data from the assessor's office also suggests Cody remains a generally more expensive place to buy a house than Powell: the median single family home sold for $212,000 in Cody last year, compared to $173,000 over in Powell.

“You’re going to pay more for a house in Cody if it was the exact same one as you would (have) in Powell,” Meyer said.

Townhouses and condominiums didn’t have as strong of a year. Thirty-five of the residences sold in the county last year — about a dozen fewer than 2013 — and while the median sales price rose slightly, to $139,500, the average townhouse sold for about $5,000 less than the year before, a total of $152,169.

The assessor’s office recently mailed notices to property owners across Park County, giving them updated figures on the estimated “fair market value” of their property.

“You’re going to pay more for a house in Cody if it was the exact same one as you would (have) in Powell,” Assessor Pat Meyer said.

The market value is based in part on what comparable properties have fetched and is intended to reflect the price that a well-informed buyer and seller would reach if the property was on the market for a reasonable amount of time and neither party’s acting under pressure.

Residential and commercial properties are subject to taxes on 9.5 percent of the fair market value. The actual property tax rates are determined by a variety of local governmental entities ranging from school boards to cemetery districts in a process referred to as setting the mill levy.

In contrast with residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial lands, subject to taxes on only a small fraction of their value, minerals like oil and natural gas are taxed on 100 percent of their value. That means changes in oil and gas production bring much bigger swings in tax revenue than shifts in the value of homes and other properties.

In fact, thanks to the recent downturn in the mineral industry — which compromised more than half of the county’s overall value last year — Meyer figures the county’s overall valuation and property tax base will sink by 3 or 4 percent this year.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as bad this year as once anticipated,” he said. “And I have no idea about next year yet, but that would be the bad one.”

He noted that oil and gas operators already had around six good months this past year before things really started dropping.

Thanks to the recent downturn in the mineral industry, Meyer figures the county’s overall valuation and property tax base will sink by 3 or 4 percent this year.

Park County’s schools, county government, cities, towns, fire districts, college, hospitals, weed and pest district, cemeteries and other taxing entities collected a total of $61.86 million in property taxes last year. A 3 to 4 percent drop in value could mean a couple million dollars less.

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