Residents Protest as Local Property Values Skyrocket

Colorado’s Booming Real Estate Market is to Blame

by Bob Volpe

For the second consecutive time Teller County property tax assessments have gone through the roof. The recent drastic rise has even motivated some local real estate agents to offer free help to those who wish to protest their increased valuations.

The last time assessments were issued, many home owners saw their assessment go up as much as 50-percent over previous years. This year it looks like the same percentage is being dealt out again. Property owners who just received their 2021 property tax assessments may be surprised to see their values have jumped up by five, even six figures from 18 months ago.

According to Woodland Park-based Realtor Bernie Vayle, “It’s all about location, location, location, location.” High five-figure increases from the previous assessment 18 months ago are the new normal.

“Historically in Teller County, we appreciate five percent a year,” Vayle said. “The last handful of years it’s been much higher than that, so 30 to 50 percent is not a stretch whatsoever.”

The county assessor bases the revaluation on mostly sales data. Last time Teller County property owners saw a rise in their property values ranging from 23 percent to over 50 percent from the previous assessment.

According to Teller County Assessor Colt Simmons, some of the factors that determine a rise (or fall) in property values are: square footage of living space, basement area, upper floor area, quality grade, land acreage square footage, design type, effective year built bathrooms, garages and carports, condition, location adjustments, and roof type.

Experts Say Increased Valuations are Normal

The major factor driving the increase in property values is location and part of Colorado’s burgeoning market.

Over the last several years, the Front Range of Colorado has seen a massive influx of people moving to the area. According to several studies, the Denver/Colorado Springs area has been rated among the top three places to live in the country. These studies are the driving market force behind the increase in property sales prices, which continue to skyrocket.

Simply put, it’s a matter of supply and demand. As the supply of homes and property are limited, and the demand to purchase homes and property increases, prices rise.

An article in The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, dated December 6, 2018, stated, “The Springs has made the ‘hottest markets’ list several times in recent months, as the area’s surging economy and job growth have heightened the demand for housing. That has led to strong home sales and rising prices.”

Simmons explained that in June of 2018, the median sale price of a property in Teller County was $320,000, but this varied by area. In Woodland Park, the median sale price was estimated at $365,000. By comparisons, in Cripple Creek it was $152,449, in Victor it was $123,500, and in unincorporated areas of the county, the price hovered around the $292,418 mark.

Simmons supplied data on sale prices on some of the areas. In Woodland Park’s Sunnywood subdivision, for example, the median sale price in June of 2016 was $288,919, but by June of 2018, it rose to $379,964. This compared to data from previous years, represented a rise in the value of 30.68 percent.

In Cripple Creek, the numbers were somewhat less. The median sale price in June of 2016 was $112,500, but jumped to $147,775 in 2018, representing an increase of 26 percent. The biggest increase in value from the numbers supplied by Simmons was in the Florissant area’s Crystal Peak subdivision.

These increases shocked many property owners in the county. Simmons’ office expects hundreds of appeals due to the rise in assessments before the June 1, 2021 deadline.

“Sometimes those assessed values aren’t even worth protesting, because really statistically they’re right on,” Vayle said.

One way to lower your property tax burden is a program that is available to seniors and disabled veterans who meet certain qualifications. For seniors, an exemption of up to 50 percent of the first $200,000 of actual value can be had. To qualify you must be 65 years of age on January 1 of the year in which you apply; you must have owned the property for at least 10 consecutive years prior to January 1, and you must have occupied the property as your primary residence for at least 10 consecutive years prior to January 1. The caveat to this exemption is that the state legislature must fund the exemption every year.

The disabled veteran exemption is available to veterans of up to 50 percent of the first $200,000 of actual value of the applicant’s primary residence. To qualify you must have; sustained a service-related disability while on active duty serving in the United States armed forces; have an honorable discharge; have a 100 percent permanent disability; and the veteran must have owned the property since January 1st of the year applying.