Assessing your home’s true market value

By Mike Kent


Soon every property owner in Whatcom County will be receiving his or her annual tax assessment in the mail, and it deserves close scrutiny. With the drop in real estate values following the overheated market of 2007, too many properties are carrying a high value hangover, meaning the assessed value has not fully adjusted to today’s numbers. Land values have pulled back in many cases by 50 percent, and homes anywhere from 20 to 35 percent. A Realtyhomeowner’s current assessment should reflect the market shift.

If a new assessed value equals or exceeds its 2007 assessment, it’s time to call your favorite realtor and ask for a quick comparative market analysis (CMA) and prepare to challenge your assessment.

Common sense says it is worthwhile to appeal a high assessment to save on your property taxes, but there is another reason, and it’s creating havoc on property sales. Sellers are sometimes shocked to learn that if the sales price is less than 50 percent of the assessed value of the property, the county treasurer must impose excise tax on the assessed value.

That’s serious money when 1.78 percent of the inflated number is stripped away from your proceeds. If you choose to appeal your assessment, simply go online to

If you’re buying or selling property, don’t rely on the assessment number as a reliable measure of value. Rather, get an appraisal or CMA for more accurate results.

Thousands of properties are assessed every year, and catching all the unique characteristics of a single parcel is nearly impossible, especially as regulatory changes impact usage and value. An appraisal or CMA focuses on a single property, and adjustments are made for its unique characteristics as well as using the closest comparable and recent sales to evaluate true market value.

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