New Maryland property assessments show continued rise in property values

Property values in Maryland continued to rise in new assessments of nearly 752,000 residential and commercial properties.

Home values rose an average of 5.8 percent over the last three years, according to the latest evaluations by the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. Commercial property values rose an average of 12.7 percent during the same three-year period.

“Obviously all of this points to a strong economy, a strong housing market,” said Alyssia Essig, president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors. “You’ve got great interest rates, loosening restrictions on getting a loan, increase in jobs. All of this is going to point to a strong, healthy housing market.”

The state reassesses properties every three years, with a third of the state’s inventory evaluated each year for the purpose of property taxation. Assessments for 2018 were based on sales data of 63,322 deals in the areas up for evaluation.

About 69 percent of residential properties in the group recorded an increase in property value.

The 2018 assessments continue a trend of steadily rising assessments in recent years, said Charles Cluster, state supervisor of real property.

“I definitely see positive gains. I see slow and steady growth,” Cluster said. “That is right on trend with what I’ve seen and have been forecasting for the last couple years coming out of the recession years.”

Commercial properties had larger assessment increases, especially in urban and suburban areas.

Apartment buildings, which are assessed as commercial properties, are a large factor in that trend, Cluster said.

Prince George’s County had the greatest increase in assessed value. Residential property values rose 21.4 percent and commercial property values rose 10.6 percent.

In Baltimore, residential property values remained relatively unchanged, rising just one-tenth of a percent since 2015. Commercial property values in the city rose 8.5 percent.

Cluster said the low assessment increase in Baltimore is likely a reflection of the area evaluated — primarily the southwestern part of the city, plus Fells Point and Canton.

Larger increases in popular Fells Point and Canton were offset by declines or slower growth in Brooklyn Park and other southwestern neighborhoods, he said.

Increases to assessments are phased in over three years.

Baltimore Finance Director Henry Raymond said he expected the 2018 assessment, plus phased-in increases from earlier years, to generate an additional $28.5 million in real property revenue in fiscal 2019, raising the city’s total real property revenue 3.4 percent to just under $856 million.

“That’s pretty much in line with the budgetary increase from fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2018,” Raymond said.

Raymond said the numbers are preliminary and he won’t know the exact impact to the city budget until he reviews the state’s final analysis.

The surrounding counties recorded greater increases in property values.

In Baltimore County, where properties in the eastern part of the county were assessed, residential values rose 5 percent and commercial values rose 11.7 percent.

Howard County had a 15.5 percent increase in commercial property value, among the greatest gains in the state. A swath of properties east of U.S. 29 and north of Route 32, including a large part of Columbia, were evaluated in the latest round.

Residential property values rose a more modest 2.7 percent.

Vernon Thompson, executive vice president for the Howard County Economic Development Authority, attributed the assessment increase to growing demand for office, retail and industrial space, as new businesses move to the county and others expand.

“It’s a booming economy right now,” Thompson said.

The county has an industrial vacancy rate of 6.2 percent, down from 8.3 percent this time last year, he said. Retail, flexible office space and traditional commercial space vacancy is also low, he said.

At the same time, major development projects are creating new space and further adding value, he said.

Howard Hughes Corp. is moving forward with plans in downtown Columbia, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory continues to expand and “they can’t build things fast enough in Maple Lawn to accommodate cybersecurity,” Thompson said.

Anne Arundel County’s 7.9 increase in residential assessments and 14.1 percent increase in commercial assessments reflect rising home prices and an influx of new residents, said Owen McEvoy, a spokesman for the county.

“People want to live in Anne Arundel County,” McEvoy said. “We’re seeing strong indicators that the county’s economy is booming.”

State assessors evaluated properties south of U.S. 50, in Crofton and Annapolis, but the county also is experiencing growth near Fort Meade and the National Security Agency, he said.

Cluster said he expects the trends counties are reporting to continue in the years ahead.

“This is reflecting slow and steady growth,” Cluster said. “I really don’t see that changing in the next year or two.”

sarah.gantz@baltsun.com

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