Oct 31, 2022 - Election

Higher taxes to come? Ready or not, another revaluation is coming in Mecklenburg County

Dilworth neighborhood

Dilworth neighborhood

Update: Revaluation notices will be mailed beginning March 17. Find your property’s value here.

  • Notices were sent out late to give assessors more time to study the market data.
  • Properties in Mecklenburg County have increased an average of 51%, according to the assessor’s office.
  • If you believe your property value is incorrect, you can appeal. The last day you can appeal your valuation to the Board of Equalization and Review is June 9.

Amid an exceptionally hot housing market, Mecklenburg County is anticipating another dramatic increase in property appraisals as the revaluation nears.

Higher home values could lead to higher property taxes — depending on whom voters elect to local offices this November.

What’s happening: Government assessors are reappraising more than 400,000 parcels across Mecklenburg County. The revaluation process is supposed to ensure landowners are taxed their “fair share” — or no more or less than the true market value of their property.

  • Put simply, the revaluation updates values from a 2019 market (the time of the last revaluation) to a 2023 market.

Why it matters: This spring, after the revaluation, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners and city and town leaders will adjust tax rates. They could go up, down or remain “revenue neutral,” meaning property owners’ tax bills would stay roughly the same.

  • For example, in 2019, the county lowered its tax rate from 82.32 cents per $100 to 61.69 cents per $100. Since values went up significantly, it was still a tax hike, nearly 2 cents higher than the revenue-neutral rate of 59.7 cents.

The big picture: The revaluation, and the tax hike debate to follow, has become a talking point in the races for Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners seats. Both The Charlotte Observer and WSOC have asked candidates where they stand on a potential tax increase.

[Go deeper: Axios voter guide for the November 2022 elections in Mecklenburg County]

  • Most Republican candidates favor lowering taxes or adopting a revenue-neutral rate, referencing ballooning inflation and families’ persisting financial struggles from the pandemic. Some Democratic candidates say it’s too early to make a decision, and they want to more information from staff first on whether it can meet citizens’ needs with a revenue-neutral rate.
  • Republican candidate for District 4, Ray Fuentes, is opposing the revaluation entirely and has told outlets he would vote to stop it from happening in December.

By the numbers: The Mecklenburg County Assessor’s Office is estimating a 48% median increase in residential assessed values and 36% in commercial.

  • To compare: The median increase for property values in 2019 was 43% for residential and 77% for commercial, the Observer reported at the time.

How it works: The Mecklenburg County Assessor’s Office has divided the county into 3,100 segments, or “neighborhoods,” to study as a “mass appraisal.” By tracking sales and monitoring market data in these areas, staff will capture the values of the entire neighborhoods on Jan. 1, 2023.

“Let’s just say there’s a neighborhood of 200 parcels. Over the last year, we’ve had 15 transactions,” Ken Joyner, county assessor, told Axios. “We’re going to look at the median of those 15 transactions and use that to consistently value those homes.”

  • The assessor’s office keeps tabs on sale records that detail structures’ square footage and reviews permits for significant renovations that may add to a home’s value. Over the last several years, staff has visited every property in the county, noting conspicuous changes that weren’t documented in the permitting process.
  • Most homes within a neighborhood appraise similarly, Joyner says. But sometimes assessors in county shirts (with a county car, an ID and business cards) will walk through neighborhoods, knocking on doors to talk to homeowners and checking out the exteriors.
  • “It’s really about making sure that we’ve got the right square footage on the home, that we understand the number of bathrooms in the home, things like that that are really going to have weight,” Joyner says. “Is it a heat pump or is it a gas pack? … Do they have a really nice patio in the back, or is it just an 8 by 10 deck?”

Flashback: North Carolina law requires revaluation every eight years, although most counties in the region (including Gaston and Catawba counties) have moved to four-year cycles. When Mecklenburg County conducted its last revaluation in 2019, eight years had passed, and the drastic spikes in valuations sticker shocked residents. This is the first reappraisal since the county committed to a four-year cycle.

What we’re watching: Residents in gentrifying neighborhoods could face displacement if their property values rise and increased taxes follow. Plus, people of color and low-income homeowners are less likely to appeal their valuations, whereas those of wealthier backgrounds can hire lawyers and slash their tax burdens.

  • In 2020, the Carolina Panthers, for example, knocked $357 million off the Bank of America stadium’s valuation by appealing, Axios previously reported. The break is saving the team nearly $3.5 million per year.

What’s next: Property owners will receive valuations in the mail this January.

  • People can either ask for an informal review to go over potential errors with the assessors or, if they feel their estimate is unreasonable, they can file a formal appeal and go before the Board of Equalization and Review.
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