Roxane Mondibrown said she was expecting her property tax assessment to reflect the decreasing value of her Forsyth County home.
Instead, the county raised her assessment last year.
“We’ve been in the house for five years," she said. "It would be hard pressed that we would get what we paid for it five years ago."
Mondibrown is one of many homeowners who find themselves in this situation. Thousands of them have asked the county to reassess their property.
“We had 2,187 by Monday morning," said Mary Kirkpatrick, tax assessor. "But we’ve been so busy, no one’s had time to stop to key them in the system since then.
“It’ll be Monday before we know for sure how many we got. But we’ve had a lot of people come through, so I think it will be more than 3,000.”
April 1 was the deadline to ask the county to reassess a home’s value. Homeowners who didn’t file the request by Wednesday are unlikely to have their property checked by the county.
That's a departure from most years, Kirkpatrick said, when the county will assess about a third of its homes, regardless of a request.
Kirkpatrick said the drop in home values may actually bring them more in line with what the department considers an otherwise low assessment.
Based on the lines this week at the tax assessor's officer, homeowners disagree.
Among the thousands of requests was that of Virgil Horton, a senior citizen who bought his Vickery Lake subdivision home in October 2006.
The county first valued his home at more than $436,000. A reassessment last year increased that to $456,380.
“They raised it last year, which I found kind of ironic,” Horton said. “I would have been happy if it had stayed at the level that it was, but they increased it and I couldn’t understand why because the market was going south.
“It doesn’t seem like much, except I am a senior. I am on a fixed income, and the market hasn’t been very kind to us.”
Horton said he expected his property value to drop this year. When he didn’t receive a reassessment notice, he decided to do his homework.
His research, which included determining the average value of all properties in the subdivision, showed his home could be worth $315,000. That's more than $141,000 less than the value the county shows.
“I’ve done a lot of work on this,” he said. “It would be nice if all of us get an idea of what our assessment is, then you can plan. Because once the tax bill comes out, that’s it ... you have to wait until next year.”
Horton’s figures could include nearby foreclosures, which could draw his home’s value down, though state law bars foreclosures from factoring into a county’s assessments.
If they were considered, foreclosures could affect individual pockets of the county. Overall, however, Kirkpatrick said they wouldn’t make much difference in total countywide values.
Countywide values are used to determine the tax rates to fund the local school system and county government.
The county’s assessments are about 94.8 percent of the market countywide, she said. In other words, the county’s values are actually under the fair market value.
“I ran the analysis with foreclosures and without, just to see what kind of difference it makes with us,” she said. “Even when I included the foreclosures, we seemed to be OK in a lot of areas.
“It’s been an interesting year, a different year.”
With foreclosures, the assessments totaled 97.21 percent of the market. The county’s goal is always to keep assessment values between 95 and 100 percent.