Merced County property values climb 6.2 percent to $17.7 billion

10/16/2013 5:16 PM

10/16/2013 11:33 PM

Property values in Merced County and neighboring counties have risen since this time last year, according to the state Board of Equalization.

Merced County topped its neighbors with the largest increase in the area, a 6.2 percent bump in value up to $17.7 billion.

Madera County saw an increase of 4.7 percent to $11.7 billion. Mariposa County’s values rose 0.4 percent to $2 billion. Stanislaus County’s values likewise rose, assessed with an increase of 4.9 percent for a total of $35.6 billion.

George Runner, Board of Equalization member for the 2nd District, said the increases are good news.

“These property value gains after several years of decline are an encouraging sign for our economy and jobs,” Runner said in a news release. “I hope this trend continues.”

All six of Merced County’s incorporated cities saw increases in assessed value, according to numbers from Merced County Assessor Barbara Levey. Dos Palos saw the greatest increase at nearly 10 percent, she said, but had the most to recover after falling the farthest during the past three years.

Levey said the recovery was greatest in residential properties across the county. Commercial property values stayed flat, she said.

“Just as when the market fell, the residential got hit first, and then the commercial-industrial followed that,” she said. “On the recovery end, we expect it to do the same.”

Agricultural property values remain strong, she said.

Levey said many Central Valley counties are seeing recovery in residential property values, and strong agricultural property values.

Merced County also saw an increase in assessed property values in 2012, but it was less than 1 percent.

The increase in housing prices in Merced County plays a role in the assessed values, Levey said. The county’s prices are up by about 37 percent since this time last year, according to DataQuick numbers.

Experts say increased investor activity, low mortgage rates and a lack of inventory have driven up Merced-area home prices in the past year. Subdivision developers are also showing interest again in Merced County, Levey said.

Totals reported for 2013-14 represent property values on Jan. 1, 2013. Levey said the property values have continued to trend upward.

“We have continued to be really strong,” Levey said. “We anticipate some changes again for this next year.”

Values are up by 3.7 percent in the Central Valley as a whole.

The Board of Equalization said the statewide value of property assessed by county governments increased $187.9 billion (4.3 percent) to $4.545 trillion.

The board said 51 of California’s 58 counties posted year-to-year increases in assessed value.

Each year, the state’s 58 county assessors are required to report their assessment roll to the Board of Equalization. Those values are used to calculate amounts homeowners and commercial property owners owe county governments in property taxes.

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