As usual, Plateau communities showed some interesting changes when all the yearly facts and figures were compiled by the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer’s Office.
It’s an exercise that is played out every year at this time, when Mike Lonergan and his staff release the latest assessed values for residential and commercial properties throughout the county.
Individual property owners should have already received their postcards in the mail.
It’s no surprise that values are trending upward, keeping with recent developments in a still-blazing real estate market.
“Home values in all parts of our county continue to increase dramatically, typically by around $60,000 each in the past year,” Lonergan said. “Overall, residential properties went up 16 percent this year, compared to 9 percent in 2020.”
Here are some tidbits found in the overall report, which looked at Pierce County’s 23 incorporated cities and towns, along with five identifiable-but-unincorporated areas (Gig Harbor Peninsula, Key Peninsula, Parkland, South Hill and Spanaway).
• South Prairie, the small community of about 440, is the least expensive place to live in Pierce County – for the second year in a row. The average assessed value of property came in at $269,866. Despite the low values, however, property assessments climbed by more than 18 percent in the last 12 months, placing South Prairie No. 6 on the list of 28.
• Not far away, and not far behind, is Wilkeson. The historic community is the third lowest this year when it comes to property assessments with an average value of $284,529. But values jumped by more than 22 percent during the past 12 months, making Wilkeson No. 2 on the list (Pacific’s assessments climbed the most at more than 24 percent).
• The final community on the road to Mount Rainier – for those traveling state Route 165, at least – is Carbonado. During the past year, property values went up almost 15 percent and now sit at $336,690. A year ago, that final number was $293,372. In all three categories (present average assessments, last year’s numbers and the rate of increase) Carbonado sits in the lower half.
• This year, the average assessed property value in Buckley is $410,727, a bump of 15.4 percent from the 2020 average of $355,408. Among the 28 cities, towns and geographic areas considered by the assessor-treasurer’s office, Buckley’s rate of increase came in 18th.
Property values are crucial not only from a market perspective but also when owners pay their tax bill. The final dollars-and-cents tally incorporates the assessed value and the individual tax rates charged by any number of taxing districts.
While it’s easy to assume tax bills will climb along with assessed values, Lonergan cautioned homeowners not to jump to that conclusion. “It’s a math equation,” he said, “and when values are rising, the legal limits on each taxing district tend to bring their tax rates down.”
The county’s elected assessor-treasurer explained things this way.
“Your property tax in 2022 will be the new 2021 value multiplied by the combined tax rates of your school district, city, fire district and so forth, added to the statewide school levy that everyone pays. A lot depends on public votes in local districts, such as levy lid lifts and bond issues.”
Most commercial properties, Lonergan said, showed either slight or no value increase during the past year, due largely to COVID-19 limitations on retail, hospitality and office activity. However, apartment buildings and warehouses both had double-digit percentage increases, in response to demand for affordable housing and online ordering/distribution.
Any property owner who believes the office of the assessor-treasurer has over-valued their property may appeal to the Pierce County Board of Equalization at no cost. The appeal must be filed no later than Aug. 24 and must provide evidence that comparable properties have sold recently at a lower amount.
More information is available at www.piercecountywa.gov/atr.