Reassessments process questioned

Published 1:40 pm Saturday, September 8, 2012

We are baffled on how property assessments in Isle of Wight County decreased by 6 percent since 2010, but increased by nearly 5 percent in Southampton County since 2005.

Franklin also saw an 8.9 percent drop in its property values during its recent reassessment.

A common denominator for Isle of Wight and Franklin is both used Roanoke-based Wampler-Eanes Appraisal Group for its reassessment of its 20,000 and 3,800 properties, respectively. Both reassessments were done this year.

Southampton County worked with Wingate and Associates of Roanoke for its 2011 reassessment on its 12,000 properties.

Another common denominator is that sales of foreclosed properties were not included in the Isle of Wight or Southampton reassessments. They were in Franklin because 41 percent of Franklin’s sales from 2011 were foreclosures or short sales.

Harold Wingate, president of Wingate and Associates, said foreclosures were not included in Southampton County’s process because assessments by law are based on market values. That means there has to be a willing buyer and willing seller. In the case of a foreclosure, there is normally not a willing seller.

At a time when the economy remains down and new housing starts are at an all-time low, it’s still hard to believe that Southampton County’s property values increased.