| June 4, 2013
Jan. 1, 2009, Hyde County applied new assessments to each parcel on the
county tax roles. These values were the result of an 18- 24 month
professional study of the market and were verified as being at 100
percent of market value.
Ocracoke Real Estate:
Demanding lower tax assessments
By B.J. OELSCHLEGEL
This re-evaluation was triggered by a growing discrepancy between market value and the existing county assessments.
year, Hyde County is obligated by North Carolina law to produce a
“sales assessment ratio study.” The selling prices of each qualified
property in the county are divided by their assessed value to produce a
ratio. The tax office sits with the register of deeds and goes through
each sale within that year.
A qualified property would be
defined as any sale over $3,000 and any “arms length” sale between a
willing seller and an able buyer. Not included, would be any sales
within a family, any government sales, and any foreclosures or short
For 2012, the ratio was 9.5 percent above market value.
the ratio gets to more than 10 percent below market value, the state
can begin to drop the assessed values of the public utilities in the
county. The land where our phone tower sits or the area occupied by
Tideland, along with its respective commercial personal property, such
as trucks and lines would lose some amount of worth to the county.
The utility assessment went from $15 million to $22 million in 2009.
are talking a big difference to the county. A forced drop in the
assessed values will lower the tax revenues collected for these public
utility parcels. It is in the bigger interest of the entire county to
bring the assessments into line with market value. If the state lowered
the values on utilities, wouldn’t the burden fall to the individual
taxpayers to make up the slack?
So now, with property values on
Ocracoke dropping by up to 30 percent of what they had been during the
peak period, folks are thinking that their assessments should also be
As the agent for the owner of The Community Square, I
have tried to have that assessment cut back to match not one, but three
commercial appraisals done for the purpose of selling The Square. In
other words, I was not making a plea based on the general fact that
property values were declining. I was basing my appeal on three
certified opinions of value.
The county felt the property was
more valuable than the appraisers. Of course, I did not prevail. The
explanation, for the negative response, had to do with the fact that my
appraisals were not in the time period of the assessment. They had to
be completed between Jan. 1, 2008 and Jan. 1, 2009 to affect the
The bottom line is that we all see properties
selling for less than what we would like to see and it appears that the
county may need to re-examine the assessments.
may be swinging in the other direction now. Whereas we may have had tax
values that were below market value before, now the assessments are
above the prices that we could expect if we were to sell our
I am not the only one to make the attempt to reduce a tax value. People are demanding some relief and it only seems fair.
don’t be fooled. Remember that the last countywide sales assessment
ratio study completed for 2012 put the county at 9.5 percent above
I can hear the whining now – “But that includes
the entire county, and it is Ocracoke that is suffering with the
You have to admit we were inflated and our
market was due for a correction. It appears that the county/state
process of assessment works a little slower than the market.
catch is in the county budget. If the county needs a set amount of
money to pay its bills, then when you lower the assessments, the tax
rate will go up to make up the same quantity of needed dollars. It’s a
Catch 22. Demanding a reassessment might not get you what you want.
Oelschlegel has lived on Ocracoke Island for more than 30 years and has
worked in the real estate business for almost as long. She is a
broker with Ocracoke’s Lightship Realty and a real estate columnist for
The Ocracoke Observer. You can reach her by e-mail at [email protected])