Appraisers will work to fix botched reval

by Jackson Sveen

CORNELIUS – The 2011 property valuations continue to be a burning issue in Mecklenburg County and will remain so until residents feel that the issue is resolved.

Curl

Pearson’s Appraisal Service, the firm hired to review the revaluation, held several public meetings across the region, at which they presented findings and recommendations of their review of the 2011 valuations.

Led by Pearson’s Manager Emmett Curl, the presentation reviewed 151 random neighborhoods where the company focused on home equity.

Curl explained that equity in these cases meant that if two houses are alike and in close proximity, they should be valued close, if not the same.

“If one is at $150,000 and one is at $100,000, then that’s a problem,” Curl said.

The company also looked at 52 neighborhoods that had the highest value increases and 375 random property record cards for the accuracy of the data.

Of the 151 random neighborhoods reviewed, 15 were determined to have major issues of equity and 34 have minor issues, meaning about one-third had some sort of problem with their revaluation.

Of the 52 singled-out neighborhoods, 20 had major issues and 18 had minor issues – about 75 percent of the most increased neighborhoods.

Pearson’s gave a detailed recommendation to the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners at its Nov. 20 meeting. The recommendation included a range of talking points, including transparency and ongoing review.

Garret Alexander, the Mecklenburg County tax assessor who oversaw the 2011 revaluation, resigned at that meeting.

The county board continued its discussion on the revaluation at a meeting on Nov. 26 and decided to hire Pearson’s to study of 1,100 neighborhoods in Mecklenburg County to find any additional errors. The board estimates this will cost $150,000.

No refunds – yet

The big question most residents have – when and how they’ll get their money back – doesn’t have an answer yet.

The Mecklenburg County commission doesn’t have the authority to authorize refunds for previous years, so if property values are adjusted following the review, it will only help for future tax bills.

But with the authority to give refunds also comes the responsibility to correct those whose property was under-valued. Instead of a refund, many residents could be facing a bill.

Q-and-A on the reval

Following Curl’s presentation, residents were allowed to ask questions and voice their concerns.

Question: My concern is that a lot of information was brought in front of the board of county commissioners and the assessor’s office for the last two years, and they are still denying any issue.

I didn’t see any recommendations that suggested the licensed appraiser knew what they were doing.

We should possibly consider a solution to require the licensed appraisers to meet a certain set of standards and provide either an average of the private fee values to be offered and used as opposed to the county’s assessment value.

Curl: The state has regulations around appraisers working in tax offices.

The assessor is required to have 30 hours of continuing education every two years and his staff members are also required.

In some jurisdictions, the staff has felt so strongly about it, that they meet those requirements within the general sanction and then they themselves go get licensed to be either a residential appraiser or go another level and get commercial.

That is a community decision and is what you need to discuss with your elected officials.

Question: In the appeals process, what percentage received an increase in revaluation?

Curl: 454 properties got a value increase. About 4 percent out of 10,000 got an increase. It’s not unusual and it happens.

Question: For those people who are going to be appearing before the Board of Equalization and Review for the appeals process, what recommendations do you have for us?

Curl: If you have data that you believe will bear out that you are overvalued, I would encourage you to go onto your (county) website.

Look at the properties around you and see how they are valued.

You can see a land value and building values.

The state normally hears around 200-300 cases a year, and there are about 1,200 cases pending in Mecklenburg County alone.

They will come to your home and try to see what is right or wrong, and go from there.

If you actually have to go to a hearing, you are getting close to court. That can get very expensive, but stay with it if you think you are right.

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