Archive for Monday, May 11, 2009

County appraiser: Housing values, real estate sales down from last year

May 11, 2009

Early returns suggest Douglas County homeowners will see a significant drop in their property values by 2010.

New data from the Douglas County Appraiser’s office show that area real estate activity is down, and so are the prices that single-family homes are fetching through the first four months of 2009.

“At this point, I haven’t seen the signs of a rebound,” said Douglas County Appraiser Marion Johnson.

Based on sales data gathered by the department, the number of real estate sales in Douglas County is down 31 percent through the same four-month period in 2008. The number of sales totaled 345 through April, down from 501 during the same period a year ago.

Prices also are in retreat. The median selling price for single-family homes is down about 6 percent thus far. That represents an acceleration of a downturn that began in 2008, when average prices dropped by about 2.5 percent to 3 percent, Johnson said.

Currently, the median selling price for homes is $179,900. The last time the average price was that low was 2006, when it checked in at $176,900.

National statistics indicate Lawrence’s market is still holding up better than overall averages. Johnson said data he has shows single-family home values have dropped about 15.5 percent nationally.

In his monthly report, Johnson also noted a USA Today article that indicated it may be awhile before the real estate market in Kansas picks back up. The article estimated it will be 2012 or later before the supply of excess homes in the state is substantially depleted, requiring new construction to begin.

But Lawrence builders believe the situation is better here. Bobbie Flory, executive director of the Lawrence Home Builders Association, said her group has seen signs of improvement this spring.

“I think the builders have a little bit of hope right now,” Flory said.

Flory said builders and real estate agents have reported an increase in the number of people out looking at homes, and she said crowds at the recent Spring Parade of Homes were larger than in the past.

“I think what we’re going to see is an incline,” Flory said. “It won’t be a shot to the top like we saw in 2005, but I’m more optimistic now than I have been.”

The numbers that Johnson’s office is gathering will be used to determine the value of Douglas County homes on Jan. 1, 2010. Property owners will receive those new tax values in March.

The property values will be used by city and county commissioners to set budgets and property tax rates for 2011.


Torch 9 years ago

No problem. We'll just raise taxes more to cover what we need. I don't understand what the issue is.

All we have to do is start a campaign that says: "It's for the kids!" or "Kids first!" and people will vote for it.

The fact that residents of the county are still able to purchase things like gasoline, clothing, and other staple items simply shows they still have enough expendable income to tax.

We've already shown - in this community at least - that there is no limit to how much we expect people to be taxed. Why shouldn't the county do the same?


NanCrisp 9 years ago

Yes, property values are down and that means governments won't have the bucks they'd banked on to fund all their necessary programs. So that means our taxes will have to increase percentage-wise. As a matter of fact, look for massive increases in taxes, as the legislators (especially Democrats) won't want to keep cutting funding. This is the endgame we should have been expecting all along. The best that taxpayers can do right now is be very, very sure you are living well below your means. Because you'd better have plenty of room in the family budget (and the business plan, if you're a business owner) for the tax hits that are coming down on you. And remember, taxes only go up; never down. So make that a permanent part of your plan.

So, now that we're facing a lot more than just a small increase, how many of us want our taxes to go up to build a new school, ballfields and auditorium? Is a couple million to renovate the school building we already have starting to look a little more sane than building a new one? Anyone wish we hadn't allowed our elementary school to be broken into two separate school buildings in the first place? Anyone wonder how long it will take the school district to under-maintain the new facilities to the same degree that they've managed to let our existing school buildings deteriorate? Isn't it about time we demand that school districts get out of the real estate development business and put our tax dollars toward maintaining the buildings we've already bought for them, adequately supplying those buildings with books, computers and the things that are bona fide teaching tools, and spend more money on teachers than on land, buildings and sports facilities?


puck 9 years ago

Agreed, Nan.

As a historic preservationist, I always wonder why people always believe new is better. It seems like no one ever wants to take what they have and make it better. Let's ignore all the historic homes in our town that are slowly crumbling away, and build another subdivision so we can G-R-O-W! (Heaven forbid we look at communities like Hayes, KS that have revitalized by actually USING their historic charm.)

The outside of the primary center is gorgeous. I believe Spurgeon built the building on the end there... True, gutting the building and renovating it would not be as easy for the staff there... but it would have been cheaper and more charming in the end.


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