Wake County

Appraisals every 4 years on Wake County agenda

Wake County’s government may appraise property values more frequently.

State law requires North Carolina counties to appraise real estate property at least every eight years, and Wake County follows that cycle.

But members of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, which controls county government funds and policies, said Monday they want to start appraising property values every four years in an effort to make the process more predictable.

Residents are often shocked by how much their properties increase or decrease in value over eight years, commissioner Sig Hutchinson said. Assessing properties more frequently reduces the chance of “sticker shock,” he said.

Although residential property values remained neutral between 2008 and 2016, they jumped an average of 38 percent between 2000 and 2008 – prompting 27,500 land owners to appeal their assessments. Commissioner Matt Calabria suggested the length of time between property assessments played a role in “overcharging” residents.

“This would be a step toward alleviating that,” Calabria said.

The board is scheduled to vote on the proposal March 21. If commissioners approve the measure, Wake would appraise properties again in 2020. The move would be significant because property values are linked to property taxes.

Forty-three North Carolina counties appraise property more frequently than Wake, but some of the state’s largest counties – Cumberland, Durham and Mecklenburg – remain on the eight-year schedule.

Wake’s board has considered four-year appraisals before but has balked because of the added cost, said Marcus Kinrade, the county’s revenue director.

Wake budgeted $7.1 million to pay for this year’s appraisal process, which looked at 360,000 properties. County staff estimates the process would cost $6.3 million in 2020, should the board approve a four-year cycle.

While increasing the cycle would cost more, the process itself may cost less each time because the county wouldn’t have to spend as much on contractors, Kinrade said.

Wake would be able to rely more on its own employees and more recent data, he said. If commissioners approve the proposal, Kinrade wants their permission to hire 10 new appraisers over the next eight years.

Kinrade supports the move. He says it will bring more accurate appraisals, which he hopes leads to fewer appeals.

“It’s far more fair to property owners,” he said of the four-year cycle. “The more often we do it, the better it will be understood by property owners.”

Paul A. Specht: 919-829-4870, @AndySpecht