Archive for Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Property valuation increase slows in Leavenworth County

March 7, 2007

Property values in Leavenworth County continued to climb in 2007, but this year's 6.5 percent average increase was the smallest in the past five years.

Compared to increases of 12.9 percent, 10.5 percent, and 9 percent in the past three years, accordingly, it may seem that property values and the real estate market are beginning to level off.

"We had a tremendous amount of plats last year," said County Appraiser Donna Graf, who mailed change-of-value notices to county property owners March 1. "(This year) there are a few less houses being built. We still have plenty of sales in Leavenworth County, but it's definitely something we're watching."

While Graf credited the smaller increase in valuation to slightly raised interest rates and slower residential development, she maintained Leavenworth County -- particularly around Lansing and Basehor -- is doing just fine.

"Of course, Lansing's just been enormous," Graf said. "Popeye's, Towne Center and other commercial building has been huge."

According to Graf, Lansing added 41 residential and six commercial parcels in the past year. While the average increase in residential property values slowed to 5.4 percent, the overall value of commercial property in Lansing shot up from $27.7 million a year ago to $40.9 million, for nearly a 50 percent increase -- by far the largest percentage increase in the county.

For one local real estate agent, Linda Schoenfelder with Coldwell Banker Reilly and Sons, the commercial property value increase in Lansing came as no surprise.

"Honestly, the last two years, I've searched up and down Main Street, calling people for land ... and everything is already being looked at," Schoen-felder said Friday. "We've always had a really good market in Lansing and Leaven-worth."

Basehor experienced similar growth across the board, with a 17.8 percent increase in residential and commercial property values and 89 new parcels.

"Basehor kind of was established because some people from the Kansas City metro area were tired of living there," Schoenfelder said. "The new subdivisions and all the new houses going up have been a really good sign."

Property values in Tonganoxie increased an average of 7.6 percent and are continuing to rise, albeit at a more moderate rate than the booming increases of years past. Sixty-two residential parcels and one commercial parcel were added in the city limits in the past year.

The 2007 valuations are part of the formula to be used to determine property taxes in November based on the mill levies set by the county, cities and school districts.

For real estate speculators and others looking to sell property in Leavenworth County, any increase in property value is economically beneficial. For longtime residents who do not plan on selling their homes, however, the result is simply increased property taxes, which have gone up steadily year after year.

"Property value's been going up obviously, and it's not tied to the cost of living," Graf said. "For retirees, money for Social Security, for instance, doesn't go up. It's definitely a concern of ours."

Schoenfelder said she sympathizes with these types of concerns but also said that increased property taxes are "normal."

"I think it's progress for the town," she said. "I hate to say it, but if your property taxes don't go up, your town is probably stale."

Property owners wanting to appeal their change-of-value notice must do so by the end of March or wait until tax statements come out in November. Hearings will begin March 15.

Graf emphasized that a resident can only appeal once, though.

"If you schedule an appeal hearing and can't make it, cancel or reschedule, but don't forfeit your appeal rights," she said.

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