Foreclosures could be reason for reduced property values in Franklin

Published 7:39 am Friday, May 25, 2012

FRANKLIN—In recent reassessments, Franklin’s property values dropped by 8.9 percent, while Southampton County’s increased by five percent.

The difference could be that the sales of foreclosed properties were included in the Franklin reassessment of its 3,800; in Southampton, they were not.

Steve Wampler of Wampler and Eanes said 41 percent of the Franklin’s 182 sales last year were foreclosures or short sales. This forced him to include them in the reassessment, which is something he wouldn’t normally do because it doesn’t represent a willing seller.

“When they are that heavy we have to look at them,” Wampler said.

He added that not using foreclosures in the process could’ve increased values by as much as 10 percent.

Harold Wingate of Wingate and Associates said foreclosures don’t represent fair market value and therefore weren’t used in the evaluation of the county’s 12,000 properties. Wingate understands that foreclosures do have an impact on property values.

“We understand that there is some bleed over, but that’s reflected,” he said. “The pressure on the market from foreclosures will be reflected in sales.”

Wingate said he doesn’t know the percentage of foreclosures in Southampton last year and doesn’t track them. He added that it would be “purely speculation” to discuss how the foreclosures if added could’ve affected the overall values.

Newsoms District Supervisor Glenn Updike, a vocal opponent of the reassessment, said Southampton is the only place he knows where foreclosures weren’t used and he believes Wingate’s reasoning is completely off base.

“Foreclosures will devalue the property in the county,” Updike said. “If your house is next to a foreclosure and it sells at 80 percent of its value, then you can’t sell your home for full price.”

Franklin residents can argue their reassessed value at hearings from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, May 25, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, and Wednesday, June 6, at the Commissioner of the Revenue’s office.

Brenda Rickman said as of Thursday her office has made or taken 32 appointments, adding that an appointment is not needed.