Buncombe receives new property values

2021 Buncomb County revaluation map
UP WE GO: All areas of Buncombe County except Biltmore Forest saw double-digit percentage increases in sales ratio from the recently completed revaluation process. Graphic courtesy of Buncombe County

The numbers are in. And the numbers are up.

The results of Buncombe County’s latest property tax revaluation, publicly released on Feb. 1, show double-digit percentage increases in the sales ratio for nearly all areas of the county. That figure indicates how much the county’s appraised value for a property went up since the last revaluation, effective in 2017, to match the property’s market price.

The only exception was Biltmore Forest, which saw a sales ratio increase of just 4%. However, the median property value increase for the wealthy municipality was $92,900, the most of any area reported by the county.

Since 2013, Buncombe has operated on a four-year revaluation cycle, twice as frequent as the state-mandated eight-year cycle, in response to the area’s booming real estate market. Keith Miller, the county’s tax assessor, notes that North Carolina law also requires a revaluation when the countywide sales ratio drops below 85%; as of December, that ratio was 83%.

While Miller explains that the median sales ratio for the county overall increased by roughly 18% to bring properties in line with market value, the rise was not evenly distributed. He says that urban areas such as Central Asheville and Southside generally saw larger percentage gains than did rural areas like Candler and Avery’s Creek.

But some areas bucked that trend. The sales ratio in the Central Business District, for example, increased by only 14%, while that in East Buncombe increased by 27% —  the biggest rise anywhere in the county. Miller points out that the appreciation of downtown commercial property values slowed over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic; in contrast, the virus bolstered demand for residential property.

Miller says a steady stream of residents has contacted his office for more information about the new values over the past week, with roughly 330 submitting online appeals as of early Feb. 5. The county hasn’t observed any particular trends in the demographics or property locations of those who have submitted appeals thus far, he adds.

Higher property values, Miller emphasizes, will not necessarily translate into higher property taxes. “I’ve tried to stress that to people, to keep people from the anxiety and getting worried and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, how am I going to do this?’” he says. “People just need to remember that you cannot calculate your tax bill based on that percentage [increase in sales ratio.]”

How the new valuations will impact those tax bills is determined by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, which sets the property tax rate annually as part of the county’s budget process. After the 2017 revaluation, the board set a rate 2.6 cents higher than the revenue-neutral figure, a decision that increased the average tax burden by about 14%.

During a Jan. 19 briefing, commissioners heard a presentation that weighed Buncombe’s property taxes against those of other large North Carolina counties. The county’s median residential tax bill of just over $1,500 ranked seventh among the 11 counties of that benchmark group.

However, as Performance Management Director Rafael Baptista pointed out, many Buncombe residents still struggle with housing due to the high cost of available properties. “It’s not the tax bill that’s making the unaffordability, it’s the mortgage,” he said.


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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the former news editor of Mountain Xpress. His work has also appeared in Sierra, The Guardian, and Civil Eats, among other national and regional publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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9 thoughts on “Buncombe receives new property values

  1. John Daniels

    Just another way to keep the rich moving in. Folks who have been here for generations are forced out by these ungodly tax valuations. We are
    not the ones making huge profits or tearing up the tops of ancient pristine mountains. I think folks who have been here for years and have supported
    this county should be grandfathered in. If you choose to move here and make a negative impact then you should pay the higher taxes. They keep espousing that
    it is producing a higher quality of life but it seems to me that can’t happen if you aren’t wealthy enough to move here. I have been here my entire life and
    I have never had a complaint about being able to find work and support my family. Sounds like more of the same bs to me. K man

    • rschmitty

      Oh look, another “native” complaining about people moving in. Wonder what the actual true native americans thought about your grandpappy taking and destroying their ancient land making a negative impact?

      Maybe there will one day be a “native” museum and a special “native” reserve for the fake “natives”

    • indy499

      You obviously don’t know the difference between tax assessments and tax rates. Do a little homework before commenting.

    • James

      Riiiggghhhtttt… because people moving here set the price a house sells for. Right? I mean when I moved here I took out a gun and put it to the head of the seller and DEMANDED they charge me a high price. The seller being a retired social worker who wanted to downsize to a more manageable condo and use the proceeds from her house sale to sustain her through retirement. But according to you I should have forced her to charge less so that the prices overall stayed lower… for you…and your taxes….. Yes…. it is newcomers who force the natives to charge the prices they do for real estate….

  2. North Asheville

    Would older, less-wealthy Asheville residents(and North Carolinians) benefit from the Proposition 13, limiting the increase in house value to a certain percentage as long as the house remains under the same ownership, with the new value going up when the house sells at what may be much higher prices?
    In South Carolina, a $50,000 property tax exemptionis available to residents who are age 65 years or older. In addition, county-wide reassessment programs may not increase the fair market value of any property more than 15% within a five-year period. However, counties may increase the assessed value (with no 15% cap) whenever a property changesownership, or upon completion of significant improvements or additions to the property.

    Many wealthy retirees here, but many not-rich older people who have been in their homes for years, on fixed incomes, who cannot afford rising property taxes based on values inflated by wealthy new home purchasers.

    Will tax payers get exercised enough to demand change?

  3. Mike R.

    We are relatively new to Asheville, and agree that a Prop 13 type system should be invoked here. We agree, it is not fair to have long time residents hit with these higher and higher tax assessments (the bills will come, trust us) and particularly when they are retired and on fixed income.

    We are willing to carry some additional tax burden to accomplish this but we will also be interested in how our local government is spending these tax dollars (e.g., 25K to cover the Vance Monument and leave the scaffolding in place after the tarp blew off!).

    But here’s the real kicker: What about all the wealthy folks that have second homes in Asheville. South Carolina invoked additional taxes for those with second homes in the state. Sounds reasonable to me. Second “homers” don’t spend as much as full time residents, don’t use as much water, for example, but our services have to be there to cover them 12 months out of the year. Seems like an area for increasing fairness with taxes.

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