Island property values drop

With the real estate market still suffering from economic hardship, it’s no surprise that assessed property values dipped this year.

The Kitsap County Assessor sent out its change-of-value notices to property owners this week, and for the third straight year, the value of the average property countywide is down.

The assessed value helps calculate an owner’s property taxes, but a change in value does not directly correlate to adjustments in taxation.

Bainbridge is split into three property zones – waterfront, uplands and condominiums, said Chief Deputy Assessor Mike Eastman.

Of the three areas, non-waterfront properties took the biggest hit. Land off the water was down 20 percent, but buildings on those parcels only dropped 3 percent.

“That typically translates into a reduction in the range of 10 to 15 percent, depending on the relative values of a parcel’s land and buildings,” Eastman said.

Waterfront properties, the staple of real estate on the island, experienced the lowest drop, at about 4 percent.

Though waterfront sites are often the most expensive properties on the island, they have greater value to buyers, said Jim Laws, manager of Windermere Bainbridge.

“If you have two houses of the exact same value and one is on the waterfront and one isn’t, the one on the water is going to be worth more.”

Countywide, assessed value dropped 4 to 7 percent this year, Eastman said.

The reduction in assessed value has led to decreased home prices as well. In April 2009, the median home price on Bainbridge was $613,750. This April, the value was $539,000, a drop of nearly 13 percent. The change on Bainbridge was significantly greater than the rest of the county.

Kitsap as a whole experienced only a $500 drop in the median home price, according to the assessor’s office.

On the plus side, Laws said, a drop in prices will open up a new pool of buyers who previously couldn’t afford a home on Bainbridge.

The assessed value of the property is one way to evaluate a home price, but it isn’t the most accurate measure because it lags behind the market.

“In a declining market, you’re usually assessed too high, and in an ascending market you’re usually assessed too low,” Laws said.

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