Notices to reflect home-value hikes

The Arizona Republic
Monday, February 26, 2007
Matthew Benson

On Tuesday, Maricopa County residents will start getting the news: Your homes are worth a lot more, and you're likely to be paying more in property taxes.

More than 1.3 million notices of property values will begin hitting Maricopa County mailboxes, bringing news that's sure to cause delight and consternation.

It will be unknown how these latest valuations will translate into taxes until local governments set their budgets and lock in tax rates in August 2007. Property owners will receive tax bills for the new assessments a month or so later.

Here are the basics of the higher property values:

• The county's median home value is more than 50 percent higher than the last time properties were assessed two years ago. That puts the value at $192,000, up from $126,500.

• Home values in Ahwatukee increased the most: 69 percent. Sun City was second at 66 percent and Scottsdale third at 62 percent.

• Other communities experienced much more moderate increases. Home values in Guadalupe rose by 20 percent and in Wickenburg by 28 percent.

Increases in places like Ahwatukee and Scottsdale appear especially dramatic because residential properties are assessed on a two-year cycle.

The increases also likely aren't news to those who've been following the real estate trends. Metropolitan Phoenix grabbed the 2005 title for quickest gains in housing prices, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Median housing prices for the Valley in 2005 jumped 48.9 percent above 2004 levels.

Even so, county Assessor Keith Russell conceded that the residential increases homeowners will see this week are in some cases breathtaking.

Although higher taxes are likely, a more valuable home doesn't necessarily mean a costlier tax bill, cautioned Russell and Treasurer David Schweikert.

"As long as the taxing districts don't spend more money than the revenues from new construction, most people's tax bills will stay about the same," Schweikert said.