Homeowners question Meck appraisal methods

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Two homeowners in Charlotte want Mecklenburg County to change the way it values your property and how much you pay in taxes. They’re taking their case to the North Carolina Property Tax Commission to make their argument.

Steve Glasgow lives on Melchor Avenue in Charlotte. When he received his property revaluation last year, he thought it was too high.

“Every time it’s way out of line and this time was really high,” Glasgow said.

Glasgow and his neighbor Scott Phillips take issue not so much with the valuation but how the county arrived at the figure. The two make three main arguments.

1) That the county is using the “demo sales” method to value land in gentrifying neighborhoods. Demo sales are when a property is sold and then the house is torn down. The sale price is then used as a reflection of the price of the land. Glasgow maintains that “market abstraction/extraction” is a better method. Extraction is when an estimate of the depreciated cost of improvements is deducted from the total sale price of the property.

2) Lots of varying sizes are given the same base value. That means that a lot with half an acre would have the same value as a one acre lot in the same neighborhood.

3) Neighbors on the same street are sometimes being lumped into different neighborhoods by assessors, changing the value of their property.

“Demo sales is totally wrong in my opinion and there’s no justification for it at all,” Glasgow said.

County Assessor Ken Joyner told WBTV that demo sales is a trusted technique of assessing a property’s value.

“The use of those sales is a proven method for determining land value,” Joyner said.

But Glasgow believes that leads to inflated prices. His biggest issue is that some Mecklenburg County assessors abstraction while others used demo sales to arrive at their valuation.

“As a result, one appraiser does it one way another does it another way,” Glasgow said.

Joyner said that different sized lots have similar values assigned because their research shows that the majority of the value is built into getting into the neighborhood, not the size of the land.

Glasgow made his case in front of the Board of Equalization and Review which is an independent group of volunteers that hears appeals. But he believes the board relies too much on the assessor’s office and puts property owners at a disadvantage.

An audio recording they obtained of the BER’s deliberation process showed BER members were trying to ask questions of county appraisers even when they weren’t allowed.

“The BER is totally rigged in favor of the county assessor,” Glasgow said.

“I think you look at the number of changes that have been at the BER in cases I think our group is extremely professional,” Joyner said.

Glasgow and Phillips case in front of the state property tax commission is on March 18th. He told WBTV that if he wins it would be a signal to the county that their methodology isn’t correct.

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