Molalla’s Real Estate Walk of Shame = Your Right to APPEAL PROPERTY TAXES!

I always get a kick out of the Saturday Oregonian’s “Real Estate Transactions“. The funniest – or most tragic – listings are always the biggest mansions fallen on hard times.

This week, a listing for Happy Valley jumped right out: at 9879 SE City View Dr. a monster mansion of 7,105 square feet just sold for $800,000:

This pathetic symbol of greed (hey! the listing says it is ‘ready’ for a private tennis court!), on almost an acre of land, sold in late 2007 for – hold on to your hats: $1,810,805!


Somebody just ‘saved’ over a MILLION DOLLARS when they bought this silly house! Let’s hope they have a really big family and lots of money to heat and maintain this white elephant. At least, since the house is on the tax rolls as assessed at $810,000 (with an automatic 3% bump this fall) the new owner can APPEAL THE TAXES!

This week, the news said that foreclosures had abated somewhat in Oregon. But don’t jump for joy if you live in the 97038 zip code, because in our area the rate continues to be one of the highest in the state.

Here are Realty Trac’s May foreclosure rates:

In Oregon, one out of every 756 homes got a notice for foreclosure in May.

In Clackamas County, the rate was 1 out of 661

In Lake Oswego, 1 out of 1,178

In West Linn, 1 out of 986

In Oregon City, 1 out of 585

In Silverton, 1 out of 455

In Canby, 1 out of 409

In Estacada, 1 out of 368…

And the WINNER for the highest rate of foreclosure notices in May locally was, as usual, Molalla,  with 1 out of every 342 houses getting a notice in May!

The average foreclosure sales price in Molalla has fallen to $130,214.

The Oregonian’s Transactions listings only showed one closed sale for Molalla: a house at 13543 S. Cascadia Ct (Big Meadow) sold for $262,000. That same house sold in 2007 for $364,700.  The math is easy: a loss of over $100,000 in less than five years.  That’s reflective of the average 27.6% loss in value since 2008 in Oregon’s real estate ‘investments’.

The city funding crisis will come when people wake up and flood the tax adjuster’s office. It’s a simple process. This fall, when you get your property tax bill, it will be based on the County’s ‘idea’ of what your home was worth as of Jan. 2011. If you feel the ASSESSED VALUE (the lower value on your bill) is too high you are entitled to a free appeal – and you might want to consider appealing the Real Market Value also.

Here’s an example of one of the growing numbers of homes in Molalla that can lead the way to a tax appeal:

A home in Big Meadow at 863 Meadowlark Place just sold for $152,000. Its tax assessed value (the low one on your statement) for last year’s taxes was $157,541. That house was just sold for BELOW THE ASSESSED TAX VALUE.

Now, in October, that homeowner will get a bill with an automatic 3% increase in assessed value – the County will tack on $4,726 to that assessed value, bringing the ‘on paper’ assessed value to $162,267. That’s over $10,0000 in assessed value more than the recent purchase price!

Several years ago, even as the real estate boom went bust, the tax people said that kind of flip of ASSESSED VALUE to sales price couldn’t and wouldn’t happen – but now it is happening all over the place! And nowhere is it happening more than in low quality Molalla – the town that failed miserably to balance growth with quality of life features: a TOWN THAT FAILED TO HIRE PROFESSIONAL URBAN PLANNERS AND PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPE DESIGNERS!

Molalla’s super high foreclosure rate reflects its short-sighted greed, terrible planning and nepotism.

Molalla real estate owners who were ripped off for quality of life features – like adequate parks and decent roads – can exert a small measure of control by making sure they don’t pay a cent more in property taxes to ill-managed Molalla than necessary.

Here’s a quote about the value of parks or open green space to keep in mind when you wonder why Molalla’s prices are so low:

Living near a park or open green space not only is beneficial for health and recreation but can increase home and property values. According to the National Association of Homebuyers’ price estimator, proximity to parks and recreation facilities can increase home values by six to 11 percent.”

Don’t try to find parks in the ‘new’ parts of Molalla, the greedy ‘stuff ’em in’ good old boys could care less about the common good once they got their big bucks! And now, the local spendthrift ‘powers that be’ are busy  ‘planning’ to stuff an expensive, FAR TOO LARGE gazebo into a postage stamp park in the old part of town rather than conserve VERY LIMITED parks funds for parks in the ‘new’ NW part of town where there are NO PARKS … but that’s a topic for another post…

Just remember that Molalla’s REAL ESTATE PRICE DROP can help surrounding owners of similar homes make an appeal of their real estate taxes this fall. It is not YOUR fault that the bogus mayor and his cronies gave away your quality of life and stuck you with the lowest property values around!

And, that price DROP and the ability of homeowners to possibly lower their tax bills should be of huge concern to cities like Molalla – cities that are hanging on by the skin of their teeth and that failed to provide financial cushions for hard economic times. Hey folks, Molalla is STILL PAYING a fake planner through the nose to continue to ruin the city’s future! And don’t forget the outlandishly large gazebo that will be eating a hole in the tiny park fund! Wouldn’t you imagine that RESPONSIBLE LEADERS would put a hiatus on discretionary spending in these difficult times? Oh well…

The window to appeal YOUR PROPERTY TAX BILL is from Oct – Dec. so when you get your bill in October it is time to decide if you wish to appeal. A Tax Adjustment Board at the County (which DOES NOT report to the Tax Assessor) will hear your appeal. You need to collect comparables from home sales that reflect your home’s profile. So if houses near you are selling at lower than your ASSESSED value you have a shot at reducing your taxes.

Remember – every year by law the property tax assessor can automatically adjust the ASSESSED VALUE up by 3%. Look at your most recent statement, add 3% to the ASSESSED VALUE and start to look around to see what the real sales prices are trending for homes like yours. Then get ready to appeal if you think your bill is too high.

Think back to the Happy Valley home that just sold for $800,000 and was ASSESSED AT $810,000 last year. This fall, that house will get a bill that adds 3% to the $810,000 property tax bill. I bet that new owner will march in to contest a bill that assesses the values at $834,300!!!

And I bet that mansion owner will win an adjustment. I am posting information received from the very courteous folks at the Tax Adjustment Board of Clackamas County.  The stats for the last two years show that more people are winning adjustments – and not just of assessed value.

Merry, the clerk at the Adjuster’s office, explained that many property owners now feel it is important to contest the Real Market Value (RMV) even if it isn’t yet below the Assessed Value (AV). She noted that there is talk that the legislature could try to do away with the current system that allows only a 3% adjustment up each year on the Assessed Value. If the system changes, it could be important to have your real estate on record in line with Real Market Value, even if it doesn’t change your tax bill.

And even if you buy a house below assessed value, the tax office WILL NOT adjust the Assessed Value down unless YOU appeal.

Here’s the information about the appeals at Clackamas County for the past two years. More people are winning reduction in property taxes (note that you may be able to work out a deal without going through the whole appeal process, that’s what the “stipulation” column is all about – and note that the AV (Assessed Value) reductions more than doubled year to year – that means LESS TAXES):

Appeals Rec’d     Net Accts Appealed   *Stipulations   Net Accts Reduced

                                                                                                            RMV            AV

2009:       1212           1099                       61                                526                244

2010:       1144           1024                       88                               693                 524

*Stipulations-agreement of values between Assessment & Taxation Office and Petitioner prior to Board meeting

 Merry Broughal

Clackamas County Clerks Office

Board of Property Tax Appeals


Below are the links and the information off the Tax Board of Appeals site – it is your RIGHT to appeal if houses – or commercial property – are falling in value around your holdings. Tell your family, friends and neighbors that if they believe their real estate is depreciated, it is their RIGHT to appeal!

Property Value Appeals

If you have questions regarding the values on your tax statement, the assessor’s staff will be available to discuss the values with you. If you desire, an appraiser will review your appraisal with you and answer any other questions you may have.

After your discussion with the assessor’s staff, if you feel the market value shown on your tax statement is too high, we encourage you to file an appeal with the Board of Property Tax Appeals (BOPTA)

You may also contact our office to receive a Petition Form to file your appeal.

If you have additional questions, you may contact our office at 503-655-8671 and ask for assistance with filing an appeal.

If you miss the above deadline, or you disagree with a prior year’s value, you may file an appeal with the Magistrate Division of the Oregon Tax Court. Appeal forms may be obtained by calling Oregon Tax Court, Magistrate Division, 503-986-5650. CERTAIN STANDARDS MUST BE MET TO HAVE APPEALS TO THE MAGISTRATE HEARD. All appeal forms are available in the Assessor’s Office or download an Information Circular from the State about the appeals process

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