By Tara Mathews
HOWARD LAKE, MN The Wright County assessor released tax statements reporting that residential property values in Howard Lake have increased an average of 12 percent for the 2015 pay year, with some increasing as much as 18 percent.
The increase is a result of homes that were built and sold in Howard Lake, according to Local Government Assessor Ken Yager.
“This is the first increase in property valuations for Howard Lake in six years,” Yager commented.
New homes are generally worth more because the material to build and repair is more expensive, Yager said.
“Assessments are adjusted specifically to each city or township,” Yager commented.
Assessors use historical sales to estimate each property’s market value as of the assessment date, which is Jan. 2 each year.
The current study period for which assessors must look at qualifying sales is Oct. 1, 2012 through Sept. 30, 2013, during which, 21 homes were sold in Howard Lake.
In the past few assessments, Howard Lake has shown five to six home sales, according to Yager.
Foreclosures and short sales cannot be used in determining values.
Prior to this year’s assessment, the sales ratio was 13.8 percent below the median selling price.
For example, a home that would sell for $86,200 should be sold for $100,000 to meet median sales ratio and property tax requirements.
“Howard Lake seemed to rebound greater than the average city,” Yager said. “It was behind, but now it’s about equal to similar towns, such as Cokato and Maple Lake.”
There were 14 commercial and industrial properties used in the sales ratio study, and there was a value reduction of 2.81 percent.
Agricultural property values increased by 10.7 percent from 2013.
“Over the last year or two, as Wright County has emerged from the recession, Howard Lake has lagged a bit on the rebound,” City Administrator Nick Haggenmiller stated. “Beginning in late 2012, sales and market trends overall suggest we’re rebounding nicely with our values, and there’s a significant turnaround.”
For property owners who lost more than half of their property values during the housing crash, the increase in property value will be welcome news, Haggenmiller said.
“Since the bulk of the foreclosures have been absorbed and inventory levels are at historic lows, many sellers are finally finding themselves able to compete and jump back into the market,” Realtor Katie Gagnon stated.
Although an increase in property value is good news, it also means an increase in property taxes, and an increase in price for buyers, as well.
“Buyers new to the market will be surprised at the lack of inventory and the more aggressive nature of house hunting. Although home values have climbed, we are definitely still in recovery mode,” Gagnon said. “Favorable interest rates and rising prices makes this an excellent time to buy.”
The Wright County Board of Equalization will conduct a meeting for residents who wish to contest their values at Howard Lake City Hall Thursday, May 1, at 6:30 p.m. Residents who want to contest their values must be scheduled through the city assessor’s office.