Real estate tax assessments dropping in the city

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The first new tax assessments in a year and a half for Richmond show property values on the decline. On average, they're down at least 5%, but more in some places.

Mary Carn has called Southside home for 22 years.

"People are struggling, the economy is bad and people need this tax break," she said.

Her tax assessment has not arrived in the mail just yet, but she's got fingers crossed it's dropped.

"This will help the people to use this money in some other area. Every dime that we can save can benefit us because we need this," said Mary.

Tax assessments are down on average 5%, city wide, in extreme cases, its 20%. Not surprising to city assessor Jim Hester. He says anyone watching home values nationwide would know Richmond would not be immune. But a few calls into Hester's office do have his attention, and may be a sign of things to come.

"We've had several people call and say you've assessed my property for less than my mortgage. That raises a concern that we've never had before," Hester said.

For the most part he expects fewer appeals of the assessments this year, because, just like Mary Carn, people know a lower assessment means you owe less to the city.

He says the decrease might also be exaggerated because this is 18 months of decline instead of 12 because the city held assessments last year as it switched to twice a year payments.

"It's not affected every neighborhood in the same manner. Some have been surprisingly been very stable over this period. And others have suffered from the market consequences," said Hester.

It's the city that's going to take the biggest hit in all this. The decline in assessments means the city stands to lose just under a million in tax revenue.

If you'd like to appeal your tax assessment you have 30 days starting Friday, July 1st. Just call the city assessor's office at 646-7500.

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