Many Saunders County Residences See Property Values ​​Rise, Protests Set for June 30 | Community

Sam Crisler, Wahoo Newspaper

WAHOO – The housing market hasn’t calmed down in 2021, and that’s bad news for homeowners worried about their property tax payments.

Earlier this month, the Saunders County Assessor’s Office sent more than 11,000 notices of change in value to property owners across the county, and about 9,000 of the yellow cards indicated an increase in property value. If property taxes stay the same, that means residents will pay more.

Landlords can file property valuation protests until June 30. But county assessor Rhonda Andresen says residential property values ​​have been set with good reason.

Under state law, the office of the assessor is required to set the value of residential properties between 92% and 100% of market value. And when homes sell for significantly more than their value, the appraiser’s office is forced to increase the value of the properties to reflect the market value.

According to Andresen’s data for 2022, there were 774 residential property sales in Saunders County between October 2019 and September 2021 – the 24-month period used to establish property valuations.

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The county is divided into 15 residential rating groups – such as “Ashland Lake/River Area”, “Ashland City”, “Wahoo Residential”, and “West Area Small Towns” – based on location and demographics. When an area’s property assessments need to change, state law does not allow any property to be left out.

“I can’t choose,” Andresen said. “It has to be the whole region. That is how we achieve equalization fairness. You don’t need to put a drop of paint on your house. You don’t have to make improvements in 25 years. If sales increase, the value of your home increases.

Andresen said she was able to leave farmland unchanged, but the problem this year is with residential properties. Overall, the county’s property valuation ratio was about 84% of its residential market value.

When comparing the property values ​​established last year to the sales values ​​that followed, the median value of properties in the “Rural Residential” zone fell to 76% of their respective market value.

The county’s final median residential assessment ratio rounded up to 93%, meaning Andresen had to increase the value of properties in the “Rural Residential” assessment group by about 16% to be in line. with the other 14 areas. The Wahoo area ratio was 85%.

“We were so low, I mean, so low on every level,” Andresen said. “When I watch this, I just cry, because we have to increase people’s (property values) so much.”

The problem extends beyond Saunders County, Andresen said, but the county is in a unique position due to its proximity to Lincoln, Omaha and Fremont. As these urban areas expand toward their county borders, demand for housing in Saunders County increases along with residential market values.

“Everybody wants a house here, and they’re paying top dollar,” Andresen said. “That’s the problem right now: people are paying too much for housing.”

She said she couldn’t remember a comparable year since she took over the deed registry office in 2009 (she also became a county assessor in 2019). And the problem doesn’t seem to be easing next year either, with market values ​​expected to continue their upward trend at least through the end of 2022.

Andresen said Saunders County residents could take a break in 2024 at the earliest, after housing prices cooled in 2023. She said she hopes county and state taxing entities recognize the increases in property value and adjust tax rates accordingly.

If it were up to her, Andresen wouldn’t increase the value of anyone’s property, but that’s the nature of her job.

“As market sales begin to decline and I have the opportunity to write down the value of your home, I would be absolutely happy to do so,” Andresen said.

In the meantime, the deadline to file a property assessment protest is Thursday, June 30, but Andresen encourages homeowners planning to protest to visit him at his office at the Saunders County Courthouse.

“Let’s review your property listing. Let me explain why values ​​have gone where they have gone this year,” she said. “My door is always open if anyone has any questions.”

Sam Crisler is a reporter for the Wahoo newspaper. Contact him by email at samuel.crisler@wahoonewspaper.com.