US – house values decrease, taxes increase

As property tax assessments come out this month, property owners are shocked to see just how much they have to pay even as their house values continue to fall.

In the United States, January and February are the months when tax assessments on property arrive in the mail. This year, many locations around the country are seeing substantial increases. With new assessments completed, property owners now have to pay more because assessment offices see properties as being more valuable than before.

At the same time, many of these homes are seeing falling property values. An example is evident in the Greater Lansing Association of Realtors. There, data shows that the average sale price of homes has dropped over the last year. That price, which was set at approximately US $141,500 in 2007, was much lower than property prices in 2006, which were US $154,400. That 8% drop is not always reflected in the tax assessment though. Many believe that as property value falls so should the amount of taxes paid.

In some areas, the drop in housing prices is one that has happened quickly – so quickly that tax assessments have not kept up. In locations such as Michigan where the number of foreclosures continues to be a problem, property values are falling rapidly.

The answer is likely in legislation as to how property assessments are made. According to Michigan State Representative Kenneth B Horn, "We don't want to drive our own people into bankruptcy and foreclosure by our tax policy, so we're trying to make it easier to maintain the American dream." This was reported by Mlive.com.