A relatively stable St. Joseph economy over the past decade is in turn reflecting no significant fluctuations in the city’s property valuations.
That’s the analysis proffered by Buchanan County Assessor Scot Van Meter, who receives monthly reports from the city of St. Joseph on building permits issued to contractors and others seeking either new home or business construction or improvements to various existing properties. Van Meter then uses the data to help him and his staff affix assessed valuations to each piece of property in the county, for taxation purposes for the St. Joseph School District and other entities.
“It just lets us know that something’s taking place ... so we know what we’re going to look for,” he said of the reports shared by the city. “We add that for the current year.”
The permits are required by law and also ensure all safety and building codes are followed, according to Clint Thompson, the city’s planning and community development director.
“Before we issue the permit, one of the questions the city will ask the contractor, the individual, is the cost associated with the construction, or the remodel or expansion, of the particular project,” Thompson said. “And in doing so, that helps determine the permit fee for the project.”
Even the installation of a $70,000 swimming pool can have an impact on a home’s assessed valuation, said Thompson.
“There’s more activity in existing construction in remodeling,” he said, with such work becoming more popular in the brightened economic climate.
“A house that has updates sells well,” Thompson said.
Van Meter said he’s not seen any major deviation in St. Joseph’s overall property valuations extending back for the past decade.
“After running the numbers at the end of the year, it looks pretty standard,” he said Tuesday. “It always seems like it runs 8 to 10% new construction (of all types) every year. Anything that adds value.”
Real estate appraisers in the assessor’s office have indicated to Van Meter that there’s been apparent drops in the property values they study.
“We lose a lot of commercial (value) every year,” he added. Tax abatements enacted by the city also contribute to the mix.
New home construction continues apace in parts of the city, including the Greystone subdivision on St. Joseph’s northeast side.
“It’s still got a substantial amount of phases to it,” said Matthew Paden, realtor with ReeceNichols Ide Capital Realty. “The subdivision will continue to push back off (Cook Road). That new section filled up pretty fast.”
Paden also told News-Press NOW interest rates for prospective home buyers remain what he termed as “fantastic” in the upper 3% to lower 4 percent range. The rates make the housing more affordable, he noted, especially as St. Joseph endures an extreme shortage of its housing inventory.
Home property values continue to rebound well from the Great Recession, said Paden, and are returning to levels before the decline. Those who are pricing homes at market value will notice multiple offers.