It’s something property owners go through every eight years in Cumberland County: Revaluation! It’s the process of appraising all real estate at the fair market value or present use value as of January 1, 2017.
“A general revaluation is conducted to equalize all property at 100 percent of fair market value,” said Cumberland County Tax Administrator Joe Utley in an appearance before county commissioners’ finance committee.
The process applies to all property, real and personal, residential and commercial.
“Tax equity and fairness are the objectives,” added Utley.
There are more than 95,000 single family homes in Cumberland County according to Utley. They include stick built, mobile homes, modular and log homes.
North Carolina law requires that property be revalued for tax purposes at least every eight years. It can be done more often, and 40 North Carolina’s counties use a four-year cycle. In order to avoid eight-year sticker shock, Wake County is among them, primarily because of its significant and rapid growth. Revals usually result in hundreds of home owners alleging that the process is just another money grab by local government. That’s not something property owners will likely have to worry about next year.
Unlike Wake County, there’s been little growth in Cumberland County. Commission Chairman Marshall Faircloth has been tracking real estate values over the last couple of years. He says residential values plunged to lows “never seen in his experience.” Faircloth is a certified public accountant in private life. Earlier this year he told Up & Coming Weekly that home values had fallen below 90 percent of those established in 2009, the last time a revaluation was conducted.
“They’ve rebounded to 95 percent today,” he said. Had property values not made a comeback, commissioners would have faced the prospect of cutting services and raising taxes.
Utley told county commissioners that it takes his staff two-and-a-half to three years to research and prepare updated and revised property values. This day and time technology has been substituted for shoe leather worn out by appraisers who would visit the tens of thousands of homes and commercial businesses in the community. The county reviews each property through listings, mapping programs, site reviews of some neighborhoods and by analyzing sales of similar properties, according to Utley.
“Officials have done 952 neighborhood reviews,” he said.
In October, his office will establish a schedule of values. County commissioners will adopt the SOV in November which will be effective Jan. 1. The bills will go out that month, and must be paid by September to avoid penalties. There is an appeal process, and county appraisers will meet with taxpayers in February and March. A Board of Equalization and Review will be empaneled in April or May to hear appeals that have not been resolved.
“The vast majority of appeals will be resolved through the normal hearing process,” Utley said.
County Commissioners will set a new ad valorem property tax rate for Fiscal Year 17 based on the revaluation.