Some people who attended an important civic forum for the black community raised concerns Tuesday about the county’s property reassessment process.
Concerns included what has been a national issue of racial bias in the home valuation process as well as the impacts of gentrification.
Their comments came after a presentation from the Mecklenburg County Assessor’s Office to the Sarah Stevenson’s Tuesday Forumformerly known as the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum.
The group, which was formed in the late 1970s to discuss and share information important to the black community, meets in the city of Charlotte’s Belmont Center along Parkwood Avenue.
The Assessor’s Office is determining the value of hundreds of thousands of parcels across the county, both commercial and residential. By January, the office will begin sending notices to landlords. Residents then have the opportunity to appeal, if they wish.
Mecklenburg County Assessor Ken Joyner has held similar meetings with neighborhood groups across the county.
Revals every four years
The 2023 reassessment comes four years after a similar review of countywide properties.
Under state law, counties are required to conduct the review to set new tax values at least once every eight years. The reassessment of individual properties is used to calculate the new property tax rates.
In 2019, Mecklenburg commissioners switched to a four-year cycle. This would help mitigate the dramatic tax spike some homeowners could see after eight years, The Charlotte Observer reported.
The four-year cycle also helps values and valuations stay closer to the current housing market and better inform the public about the revaluation process, Joyner told the forum.
The Assessor’s Office has already completed an initial review of 372,973 parcels across the county, or 94%, to make adjustments and changes from the previous assessment. The vast majority of these plots are residential.
Charlotte has one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, which Joyner says hasn’t been typical for the area historically. Median home sales prices are close to $389,000.
“It’s usually California, Florida, Texas,” Joyner said. “We are seeing unprecedented growth in our region, and again, that is what our office needs to review and determine as we move forward with these assessments.”
Falling valuations in black neighborhoods
One person watching Joyner’s presentation asked why properties owned by Blacks or in predominantly Black neighborhoods are undervalued locally and nationally — even with some of the most sophisticated systems used to appraise homes.
The commentator was likely referring to reports, including from the Brookings Institution. In 2018, the organization published a report which showed how homes in black neighborhoods across the country are priced 23% less, on average, than those in comparable neighborhoods with few or no black residents.
The assessor’s office ensures that these inequities do not occur, Joyner said.
He said they were looking at all market transactions in all neighborhoods, leaving out homeowner demographics. When assessing a home’s value, Joyner’s team will look at recent sales of comparable homes in that neighborhood.
Tommie Robinson told Joyner that he saw property values increase when a neighborhood began to gentrify, but did not increase when in the hands of black owners.
“We don’t look at the color, we just look at the data and what those sales and transactions are,” Joyner said. “We don’t use any technique that’s going to hold back a group’s values, because everyone in our system deserves to be at that market value, and the system isn’t fair if everyone isn’t getting paid. at that market value.”
Another person at the forum pointed out the prevalence of older, smaller houses being demolished and replaced by much larger houses. This may impact taxes for nearby residents, including those who do not wish to sell.
In Mecklenburg County, housing sizes have increased about 8% over the past decade, the Observer reported this month. The trend may impact affordability, property experts say.
Joyner said the bureau and the county are limited by state law on what they can do to keep taxes for longtime residents and property owners at a “status quo” level.
Others asked how the assessor’s office reaches out to the rest of the African-American community. They wanted to ensure that more neighborhood groups received the same presentation to learn about the process, including how to file an appeal.
Joyner said the county is working to get the information out as widely as possible.
Useful information about the property
Joyner shared other information during his presentation, including how to research your own property’s value and tax history.
Some people in Mecklenburg County may qualify for property tax reductions.
There are discounts for people with limited income, seniors or people with disabilities and disabled veterans. Applications are available online or you can call 980-314-4226. You can find more information on the site of the departmental evaluator.
Homeowners can also easily find information about their homes online, through the county website.
By searching for your name or address, you can find the appraised value of your home. You can also click on a tab called “comper” that shows all recent sales in your neighborhood – the same sales the appraiser’s office uses for the 2023 reassessment.
Once the reviews are sent, Joyner encouraged residents to find out which sales are the most comparable and whether all of your property information (think square footage) is correct.
In the fall, the county will have an online portal where people can submit comments or questions to a county assessor.
This story was originally published June 14, 2022 2:52 p.m.