Property values: Good, bad and ugly

Published 9:56 am Saturday, February 6, 2010

Property appraisals and valuing real estate is a difficult and fine line to walk. Realtors do it every day when helping a seller choose a fair market value to sell their home.

We use all the tools at hand to accomplish this task by evaluating sold properties, properties currently on the market and foreclosures.

Realtors always make note of a foreclosure that has sold in a neighborhood, however it is not a standard in valuing a property, especially if the assessment value is far higher than the selling price of the foreclosure. As soon as there is a new owner in that foreclosed property, the value of the home goes back to at least the assessment value unless the property is in severe disrepair.

The property deal in this case goes to the buyer as they walk into a foreclosed home with instant equity. The reality in the marketplace right now across Hampton Roads is that fewer and fewer foreclosures and government-owned properties are on the market. The buyer’s market is coming to an end, and the home real estate market place is stabilizing.

According to the Real Estate Information Network of Hampton Roads for Franklin, as of Feb. 1, there are 127 single-family homes for sale on the market in the city. Only seven of these homes are bank- or government-owned foreclosures. In 2009, REIN shows 44 single family homes sold in Franklin with 11 of those homes being foreclosures and, in 2008, 62 single-family homes sold in Franklin City with 15 of these being bank- or government-owned homes. Current homeowners are able to see that the trend of foreclosures is getting smaller, even with more properties on the market.

I have to disagree with Jim Hart and Councilman Benny Burgess’ opinion in the article “Appraiser: Values steady” (Feb. 1) that foreclosures should be given more weight in property assessment than assessor Steve Wampler has given them.

My larger concern would be the City of Franklin not maintaining the integrity of neighborhoods by allowing builders to purchase and build homes on lots that are not consistent with the other homes in the neighborhood. A pre-fabricated home does not belong in a neighborhood of brick homes or in a neighborhood of historical homes, unless the floor plan and exterior is similar and style to these homes. This practice of building without discretion decreases home values in the real estate marketplace faster than an over- or under-assessed property.

City officials need to listen to homeowners when they voice their concerns about new construction in the neighborhood and ignore their knee-jerk reaction to get a new home on the ground and a taxpaying homeowner added to the coffers. It is city’s responsibility to maintain neighborhood congruency throughout and keep property values from further depreciation.

Property owners don’t want their property value decreased, and they don’t want a tax appraisal that is not realistic in the marketplace. They also don’t want to pay more in taxes on their homes than they have to in the current recession or have a large decrease in value due to inconsistent building so that it hampers their ability to refinance or obtain additional loans to improve the property. All these things go hand-in-hand with maintaining and actually raising property values in our fair Franklin.