Detroit — The city of Detroit on Monday announced its first net increase in residential property values in more than 15 years.
Officials say the bump suggests property values are on the rise as revitalization reaches more of Detroit’s neighborhoods.
“We think that it’s certainly a positive sign of the recovery that’s occurring in the city,” Detroit Chief Financial Officer John Hill said during a news conference at City Hall.
Hill, noting the gains are a positive for the city as it looks to emerge in the coming months from strict financial oversight put in place through bankruptcy, added: “We do believe that we’ve hit bottom and we’re now on the way up.”
The increase for the 2018 assessed value is the first uptick for the city’s class of residential properties since about 2002, officials said.
But Detroit, Hill said, isn’t predicting large increases in property taxes right now. Officials, he said, expect conditions to be flat for the next year before the city sees a small growth over the next several years.
But “over time, it will certainly have a very positive impact on the city’s revenue,” Hill said.
Nearly 60 percent of residents will see 2018 assessments rise by 10 percent or less, officials said.
The average assessed home value in Detroit is between $20,000 and $50,000. The owner of a home within that range could see an increase in their taxes this year of $22 to $34, according to Alvin Horhn, the city’s chief assessor.
For properties that show an increase in value this year, Hill said, it will be capped at 1.02 percent or 5 percent, whichever is lower. Therefore, residents won’t see increases greater than that except for certain circumstances, such as a property changing hands.
For years, the city’s assessing office had reduced assessments across Detroit to reflect the loss in property values.
In 2008, the cumulative assessed value of all residential property was $8.4 billion, officials noted Monday. Last year, that number was $2.8 billion. This year, the assessed value of the city’s 263,000 residential properties rose slightly to $3 billion.
“For the last 12 to 17 years, we’ve been making massive cuts in the residential (property) class to bring the values in line with the market,” Horhn said. “It’s been a long ride, but for the first time in a very long time, we see increases in the residential class of property in the city of Detroit.”
The Office of the Assessor sent out notices to residential property owners in late January, informing them of their proposed assessments for 2018. Residents are able to appeal their assessments. Tax bills won’t be mailed out until June.
The city has spent the last several years conducting a citywide reassessment of its properties to bring them in line with market value.
The reassessment was initiated in 2014 as part of a state overhaul to bring Detroit’s assessment role into compliance with the General Property Tax Act to ensure all assessments are at one half of the market value and that like properties are uniform.
The city, until August, had been operating under oversight since 2014 in the wake of mismanagement in Detroit’s Assessment Division, widespread over-assessments and rampant tax delinquencies.
The oversight stemmed from a yearlong investigation by The Detroit News that found Detroit was over assessing homes by an average of 65 percent, leading to higher tax bills, according to an analysis of more than 4,000 appeal decisions by a state tax board.
Hill said he is confident the city’s assessments are now fair and have led to more residents paying property taxes.
Collections, officials said, have increased from an average of 69 percent in 2012-14 to 79 percent in 2015, and 80 percent in 2016. The collection rate for 2017 is projected to be 82 percent.
Mayor Mike Duggan, in a statement released Monday, said the increase is a reflection of Detroit’s ongoing recovery.
“We still have a long way to go to in rebuilding our property values, but the fact that we have halted such a long, steep decline is a significant milestone,” Duggan said. “This also corresponds with the significant increase in home sale prices we have seen in neighborhoods across the city.”
Separately, the city on Monday said commercial properties have increased in value to nearly $3 billion, while industrial properties recovered from a drop last year, rising from $314 million to $513 million.
Horhn said demolition of blighted homes as well as improving city services are among the factors resulting in the residential increases.
“It’s perception to a large extent,” he said. “If people believe things are improving, they’ll invest, and I think that’s what we’re seeing.”