Residential property assessments in northern parts of Howard County showed little change this year, bucking a trend of declining values throughout the rest of the state.
Commercial property assessments in the same area, meanwhile, continued to show an increase in values, also fairing better than statewide trends.
Residences in the northern portion of the county, which includes Marriottsville, parts of Columbia, and Ellicott City along Route 40, showed an overall .2 percent decrease in assessment value this year, according to Renee Mierczak, Howard County supervisor of assessments. Statewide residential reassessments this year dropped by seven percent on average.
Commercial and residential properties are reassessed every three years with one-third of the county assessed each year.
Assessments done in areas of Columbia and in Ellicott City along Route 40 actually increased this year albeit less than one percent in each case. Marriottsville property values were down two percent. The last time these properties were assessed in 2010, residential property values dropped in each area by 23 percent, Mierczak said.
This year 48 percent of residential property assessments decreased compared to 98 percent in 2010, she said.
Following the statewide trend, Howard County commercial property assessments in this area increased by 17 percent, according to Mierczak. Commercial property assessments in the northern end of the county increased by 2.3 percent three years ago, Mierczak said. Montgomery County was the only jurisdiction other than Howard to see an increase in commercial assessments.
About 30,000 residential and 2,000 commercial properties were assessed this year, Mierczak said.
The assessments were "slightly better" than the county had projected, according to Howard County Budget Director Ray Wacks.
"It appears we hit bottom and they're not continuing to go down," he said, referring to the 20 percent decrease homeowners absorbed three years ago.
Wacks attributed assessments holding steady to the fact that "Howard County is a good place to live and housing prices reflect that."
David Yungmann, an agent with REMAX Advantage Realty in Fulton, said the most recent assessments show the market is recovering after a 20 percent decline during the last assessment period.
"This slight increase is a positive sign after years of declining values, but the lower rate of growth benefits sellers and buyers because the lower tax assessment inherited by the buyer makes their new home more affordable," Yungmann said.
Assessment notices were mailed out Dec. 28 and property owners have until Feb. 11 to petition their assessment, Mierczak said.