Concern voiced ahead of Mecklenburg County property valuation


One of the many homes for sale in Charlotte. Mecklenburg County is on track to set new property tax values in 2023.

Some people who attended a civic forum important to the Black community raised concerns Tuesday about the county’s property revaluation process.

Concerns included what’s been a national problem of racial bias in the home appraisal process as well as impacts from gentrification.

Their comments came after a Mecklenburg County Assessor’s Office presentation to the Sarah Stevenson Tuesday Forum, formerly known as the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum.

The group, which was formed in the late 1970s to discuss and share information important to the Black community, meets in the city of Charlotte’s Belmont Center along Parkwood Avenue.

The assessor’s office is in the process of determining the value of hundreds of thousands of parcels across the county, both commercial and residential. By January, the office will start sending out notices to property owners. Residents then have the ability to appeal, if they choose.

Mecklenburg County Assessor Ken Joyner has been holding similar meetings with neighborhood groups across the county.

Revals every four years

The 2023 revaluation comes four years after a similar countywide review of properties.

Under state law, counties are required to perform the review to set new tax values at least once every eight years. The revaluation of individual properties is used to calculate new property tax rates.

In 2019, Mecklenburg commissioners switched to a four-year cycle. That would help ease the dramatic spike in taxes some property owners could see after eight years, The Charlotte Observer has reported.

The four-year cycle also helps values and assessments stay closer to the current housing market as well as keeps the public more educated in the revaluation process, Joyner told the forum.

The assessor’s office has already done an initial review of 372,973 parcels across the county, or 94%, to make adjustments and changes from the prior evaluation. The vast majority of those parcels are residential.

Charlotte has one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, which Joyner said hasn’t been typical for the region historically. Median sales prices of homes are close to $389,000.

“It’s usually California, Florida, Texas,” Joyner said. “We are seeing unprecedented growth in our region, and again that’s what our office is required to look at and determine as we go forward with these valuations.”

Valuations lower in Black neighborhoods

One person watching Joyner’s presentation asked why properties owned by Black people or in largely Black neighborhoods are undervalued at the local and national level — even with some of the more sophisticated systems used to value homes.

The commenter was likely referring to reports including, from the Brookings Institution. In 2018, the organization released a report that showed how homes in Black neighborhoods across the country are valued at 23% less, on average, than those in comparable neighborhoods with few or no Black residents.

The assessor’s office works to ensure those inequities don’t occur, Joyner said.

He said they look at all market transactions across all neighborhoods, leaving out demographics of who owns the homes. When assessing a home’s value, Joyner’s team will look at recent sales of comparable homes in that neighborhood.

Tommie Robinson told Joyner that he’s seen property values increase when a neighborhood starts gentrifying, but didn’t go up when in the hands of Black owners.

“We are not looking at color, we’re just looking at the data and what those sales and transactions are,” Joyner said. “We’re not using any technique that’s going to hold values back for any group because everyone under our system deserves to be at that market value, and the system is not fair if everyone is not paid at that market value.”

One of the many homes for sale in Charlotte. Mecklenburg County is on track to set new property tax values in 2023. Khadejeh Nikouyeh

Community outreach

Another person at the forum pointed to the prevalence of older, smaller homes being torn down and being replaced by much larger ones. This can impact the taxes for nearby residents, including those who are not interested in selling.

In Mecklenburg County, housing sizes have increased about 8% over the past decade, the Observer reported this month. The trend can impact affordability, real estate experts say.

Joyner said the office and county are limited by state law on what they can do to keep longtime residents and property owners’ taxes at a “status quo” level.

Others asked about how the assessor’s office was reaching out to the rest of the African American community. They wanted to make sure more neighborhood groups received the same presentation to learn about the process, including how to file an appeal.

Joyner said the county is working on getting information out as widely as possible.

Helpful property information

Joyner shared other information during his presentation, including how to look up your own property’s value and tax history.

Some people in Mecklenburg County can qualify for property tax reductions.

There are reductions for those on limited incomes, seniors or those who are disabled and disabled veterans. Applications are available online or you can call 980-314-4226. You can find more information on the county assessor’s website.

Property owners can also easily find information about their homes online, through the county’s website.

By searching your name or address, you can find your home’s appraised value. You can also click a tab called “comper” that shows all recent sales in your neighborhood — the same sales the assessor’s office uses for the 2023 revaluation.

Once notices are sent out, Joyner encouraged residents to make sure which sales are the most comparable and whether all the information about your property (think square footage) is correct.

In the fall, the county will have an online portal where people can submit comments or questions to a county appraiser.

This story was originally published June 14, 2022 2:52 PM.

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Gordon Rago covers growth and development for The Charlotte Observer. He previously was a reporter at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia and began his journalism career in 2013 at the Shoshone News-Press in Idaho.

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