HANFORD — The assessable value of property in Kings County has risen almost $400 million since last year, a sign that the real estate market continues to improve in the county.
Kristine Lee, Kings County assessor/clerk-recorder/registrar of voters, announced the completion of the 2017-2018 assessment roll.
The assessment roll lists the individual values of properties across the county and is used to determine the amount of property taxes a property owner must pay.
The local assessment roll has increased to a record $10.88 billion. The Kings County net assessment roll, with exemptions removed, rose to $10.38 billion.
The net assessment roll increased by 4 percent across Kings County, adding over $399 million in value compared to last year’s roll. Most cities within Kings County experienced impressive gains this year.
The city of Hanford posted the largest dollar increase of $263,429,211, with a total assessed value of $3,821,767,524. The city of Lemoore increased to $1,928,358,035, the city of Corcoran ended the year at $418,020,604, and the values for the city of Avenal had a decrease from last year to $259,321,277.
Areas outside city boundaries posted an increase of over $87.5 million for a total assessed value of $3,950,023,839.
There are currently 799,758 active agricultural acres within Kings County with 593,669 of those under Williamson Act or Farmland Security Zone contract, which help guarantee that agricultural acres will be kept for agricultural purposes only.
Lee said the assessment roll has gone up by about 4 percent every year for the past three years.
“It’s a benefit to the county,” Lee said. “The increased value helps increase taxes that can be used for things like public safety.”
Much of that gain on the assessment roll is due to the increased activity and rising prices of the real estate market.
Local real estate broker Richard Knee has been in the business for 42 years. So far, Knee said 544 homes have been sold this year, which he calls an “amazing amount.”
“We have a very balanced, strong market,” Knee said, adding the rental market is good too, and it’s not uncommon to see rent in the amount of $1,200 or more.
Knee said the county is a seller’s market right now, with 60 percent of houses selling within the first 30 days of being listed. He said there are 199 active listings with 138 of them already pending, and the scarcity of homes causes the prices to go up.
Knee attributes the “robust” real estate market to low interest rates, consumer confidence, and a good job market from the naval air station, prisons and schools. Plus, he said baby boomers are downsizing to smaller homes and people are coming in from out of town looking for more affordable homes.
Market values of most properties are assessed on Jan. 1 of each year. When they decline, the County assessor must reduce the assessed value to reflect the lower market value. When they increase and the real estate market rebounds, the assessor then restores the assessed values for properties.
The Assessor’s office has sent assessment notices to Kings County property owners, which states the value that will be used by the tax collector’s office to determine the amount of property taxes they’ll pay.
Any property owner who believes that the value stated on his or her notice is greater than the current market value of the property can contact the Assessor’s Office for a review, Lee said.
Valuation issues can usually be resolved without filing a formal assessment appeal when a property owner notifies the Assessor early, so Lee encourages property owners to do so as soon as possible.
On the rare occasion that valuation issues cannot be resolved through an informal process, the property owner can file a formal assessment appeal.
Applications may be obtained through the clerk of the Board of Supervisors from now until Sept. 15. All applications must be filed or postmarked before 5 p.m. on the last filing day.