The King County Assessor’s Office announced that it began mailing out property valuation notices to residents on Thursday, with some areas poised to see double-digit increases in value. The annual revaluation notices — required by state law — are issued for 720,000 pieces of property in the county and applied for taxes due in 2022.
Despite the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns, the office says that commercial property values have remained steady while residential property values in the county have “risen dramatically,” with some areas even seeing upwards of 20% increases in value.
“No one knew what to expect a little over a year ago when this public health emergency began,” said King County Assessor John Wilson in a news release. “Now it is clear that a primary impact on property values has been caused by homeowners not wanting to sell at this time, leading to reduced supply and big price and value increases.”
The areas seeing the largest jump in value are in the south and east portion of the county. Residential properties in Enumclaw and Black Diamond saw the largest increases in value, up 21% and 22% respectively from the previous year.
Woodinville and Duvall followed with values increasing 18%, while property values in East Auburn were up 15.5%. Skyway property values also increased 13%, according to data released by the assessor’s office.
Despite those high increases for suburban areas, Wilson predicts that the jumps in the Seattle metro area will be smaller, under 10%, although those numbers are not yet confirmed by the office.
n King County, property owners have a 60-day window in which they can appeal their valuation. Wilson said that assessors across the state are working on a program to offer property tax assistance to homeowners, although it is still in its nascent stage. That comes after the assessor’s exemption team saw a 300% increase in applications for tax relief in the past year.
“As we come out of COVID, we will continue to step up our outreach to senior homeowners, disabled homeowners, veteran homeowners,” Wilson said. “We recognize that for folks on fixed income or work hourly jobs with unpredictable hours, homeownership has become something where taxes are a factor that they worry about.”
It’s no secret that the real estate market in the Emerald City has been red hot with high prices and low inventory driving competition. A recent report from Zillow found that while for-sale home inventory in Seattle went up about 11.3% month over month in March, it was still 20% lower than it was at the same time last year.
“March often sees a boost in inventory, and the return to some seasonal norms is a positive sign that supply is beginning to catch up with demand,” Zillow Economist Treh Manhertz said.
The assessor’s office mailed out property tax bills back in February, and most residents in King County saw close to a 4.03% general increase in tax collections due to voter-approved special levies. However, some saw double-digit hikes in what they had to pay: Algona had the highest with an 18% increase compared to 2020 followed by Maple Valley and Pacific, which are up 15% and 13% respectively.
Enumclaw also saw a double digit increase in property taxes this year, up 11% from 2020. Countywide, collections were up $256 million from the previous year, totaling $6.6 billion.
The first-half of 2021 property taxes are due April 30, and second-half 2021 property taxes are due by Oct. 30.
The process of mailing the notices is rolling, and residents should expect to receive their valuations within the next several months.