Some Coloradans are getting big surprises in their mailboxes this month. County assessors are busy sending out new appraisals to homeowners, as they do every two years.
The new assessments mean tax bills will go up next year across the state, with property values climbing from Pueblo to Denver to Mesa County. The moves range from 1 percent to 20 percent.
The median value of homes in eight Denver-area counties jumped anywhere from 6 to 11 percent. Boulder County had the biggest increase among that group. In Mesa County, the median increase was 20 percent, according to county assessor Ken Brownlee. That’s about double the increase the last time reappraisal notices went out in 2019, Brownlee said.
The large increase could lead more homeowners to appeal the decision, he said. Homeowners across the state can appeal between now and June 1.
“People are going to go – my house couldn’t have gone up that much,” Brownlee said.
Values in El Paso County saw similar increases of between 15 and 20 percent, according to county assessor Steve Shleiker.
Assessments homeowners are getting in the mail now don’t even include the runaway rise in home prices over the last 10 months. The appraisal period ran from January 2019 through June 2020. In the Denver metro, median property values are up more than 17 percent since last June, according to the realtor association, which would be on top of assessments arriving in mailboxes this month.
Low interest rates and a shortage of homes for sale is driving price gains across the U.S. In Colorado, the number of homes on the market has been at record lows since last summer, leading to bidding wars and locking a growing number of would-be first-time homebuyers out of the market.
The booming housing market wasn’t what experts forecasted when COVID-19 shut down the economy last March. Physical distancing protocols and financial uncertainty brought real estate deals to a standstill in the early days of the pandemic. But that changed after just a few months.
“I didn’t think people would be out and about buying houses and going crazy the way they are,” said Pueblo County Assessor Frank Beltran. “It doesn’t seem to be slowing down right now… We’ve still got a lot of people paying top dollar.”
The rise in home prices was smaller in Pueblo than in some other counties. Still, it’s a big enough jump that some people will be unpleasantly surprised, especially if they thought the brief slowdown when the pandemic hit last spring would put a stop to the rise in values.
Pueblo’s median increase was 1.25 percent, up from 1.19 percent in 2019, Beltran said.
The plunge in oil prices at the start of last year appears to have slowed appreciation in some areas. In Weld County, the epicenter of Colorado’s energy business, the median increase for residential properties in the new assessments was 8 percent, down from 15 percent during the last reappraisal period, according to county assessor Brenda Dones.
County assessors base their calculation on sales of similar homes nearby.