Lake Norman & Mooresville

Slight change expected

Lake Norman residents will receive notification of their 2011 home revaluation in early February, but early reports suggest the majority of those values will not drop below 2003 levels, said Chuck Hicks, real property appraiser manager for Mecklenburg County.

"In 2006 and 2007, values were sky rocketing. They've been on their way down since the bubble burst with prices falling, but they have not fallen all the way back to '02 levels," said Hicks of the majority of Lake Norman properties.

There was about a 20 percent increase in median sales price for Lake Norman homes between 2009 and 2010, but that increase likely will not be seen by residents in lower and higher ends of the housing market, said Hicks.

In 2009, the median sales price was $220,000. By the second quarter of 2010, the median sales price was $270,000.

Still, Hicks said, the rise in median sales price is not representative of the general market; instead, that increase is most characteristic of the $250,000 range, he said.

"At the lower and upper ranges, activity has dropped off," said Hicks. "So this does not mean that your property value is going to increase by 20 percent. What a median does is excludes the extremes. Most of that activity is the middle-of-the-road range."

The county is required by state law to revalue properties every eight years to bring them to fair market values. Hicks expects those revaluations to be released to the 280,000 residential properties in the county by the first week of February, and the revaluations for the 70,000 other property types - such as commercial buildings - after that.

Each notification will come with a form in case homeowners want to appeal.

During the 2003 revaluation, about 7.6 percent of the county - about 19,000 of 260,000 residences - contested their revaluation, said Hicks.

Most of those residents thought their revaluation was too high, citing the sales prices on neighbors' homes as well as homes in their neighborhood that were having a difficult time being sold, said Hicks.

Hicks acknowledged that sometimes the county has incomplete or inaccurate information, and his office welcomes resident feedback.

"It's conceivable that sales have slipped by us that we don't have the information on," said Hicks, adding that the county gets most of its information from the register of deeds. "Sometimes there are factual errors. For example, we might have that your home is 3,000 square feet and it's really 2,500 square feet."

Hicks expects revaluation appeals to jump this year, possibly to 15 percent of all residences.

"We are now in uncharted economic territory where the level of concern is much higher," he said. "If you're wanting to minimize your expenses, it's understandable for someone who feels like it's unreasonable to want to appeal that value."

On the other hand, Hicks said, property owners wishing to sell their home often will be the ones who appeal their revaluation for being too low.

To help residents understand their home's 2011 revaluation, the county has a website that points property owners to tools that show the sales price of nearby homes. That website is reval.charmeck.org.

The county also has visited residents to explain the process when county commissioners have requested meetings for their districts. Thus far, appraisers have met with Districts 1, 2, 3 and 5. District 1 covers the Lake Norman area.

"It's an education process for everyone. It's been eight years since we've had to go through this," said Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte. "There are concerns about what the basis is for how the county makes their appraisals and whether they follow the same appraisal process as real estate agents."

For Cornelius residents, the main concern is their property will be valued at more than the property is actually worth, said Tarte.

Preliminary indications across the county suggest property values have increased between 6 percent and 8 percent. Hicks said he does not expect Lake Norman properties to see a substantially higher percentage increase than the rest of the county.

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