Assessments show Wilkeson, South Prairie are least expensive places to buy

Residential property rate rises in Pierce County have slowed overall.

Image courtesy Pierce County.

Image courtesy Pierce County.

After crunching the numbers on more than 300,000 parcels of land, it was determined that properties in Wilkeson and South Prairie have the lowest assessments in Pierce County.

That’s one of the takeaways from the 2019 round of appraisals done by the county assessor’s office.

Property owners are inclined to look at the official value of their property, how the figure compares to the previous year’s number and, finally, how the assessment will impact property taxes.

Two trends were pointed out by Mike Lonergan, Pierce County’s assessor-treasurer.

“Residential property continues to increase in value,” he said in a press release, “although the rate of increase has slowed compared to last year.” Overall, residential properties in Pierce County increased 7.5 percent this year, compared to 11.8 percent in 2018.

The assessor’s office released figures for all 23 cities and towns scattered throughout the county, along with an average for the unincorporated areas. Here’s a look at the averages for Plateau communities and others that are close by.

• Wilkeson ranked 23rd, meaning it is home to the smallest assessments in Pierce County. The average for 2019 is $206,745. A year ago, it was $200,087, so evaluations jumped about 3.33 percent, the smallest increase in the county.

• South Prairie is No. 2 on the county’s “least expensive” list, with an average property assessment of $210,042. The increase over 2018’s average was 3.6 percent, the second-smallest jump.

• Carbonado was one of seven communities with an average assessment of less than $300,000. It sits No. 6 on the list at $260,303. That, however, was an increase of 6.6 percent over a year ago.

• Buckley’s average assessment this year is $321,530, placing it somewhere in the “lower-middle” range. With new housing springing up on both the north and south sides of town, the average jumped a bit more than 7 percent this year, leaving Buckley No. 14 on the countywide list.

• Bonney Lake might be just a few miles down state Route 410, but it’s significantly different when it comes to property assessments. The busy community ranks No. 7 on the county list with an average assessment of $391,321, an increase of almost 6.76 percent from last year.

The most expensive place to live in Pierce County, based on average assessment, is picturesque Gig Harbor, where many front yards stretch into salt water. No. 2 on the list is Ruston, which has transitioned the past two decades from an environmental eyesore to a hip, Tacoma enclave. Rounding out the top six – all with average assessments in excess of $400,000 – are Edgewood, DuPont, Steilacoom and Auburn (which straddles the Pierce/King border).

A common assumption among property owners is that a higher assessment automatically brings an increased tax bill. While that is often the case, Lonergan offered a brief word of caution.

“It’s a math equation,” he said. “Your tax in 2020 will be the 2019 value multiplied by the combined tax rates of your school district, city, fire district and so forth, added to the state and countywide property taxes that everyone pays.”

In the end, he said, “a lot depends on votes by the public and the Legislature.”

If someone believes their property was over-valued, an appeal can be made to the Pierce County Board of Equalization at no cost. The appeal must be filed no later than Sept. 10, providing evidence that comparable properties have sold recently at a lower amount.

Anyone seeking more information about the appeal process can visit www.piercecountywa.gov/atr.

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