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Building under construction file photo (2015). My Ferndale News

Whatcom County Assessor announces 2020 property valuation changes

FERNDALE, Wash. — Most property taxes are based on the value of property, thus the higher the property assessment (valuation), the more taxes are owed. As a result, not everyone was happy to receive the latest property valuation change notices from the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office in the mail this week.

The Assessor must value all property in Whatcom County at full market value. Sales from 2019 were analyzed to develop an assessed value as of January 1, 2020. The market continued to appreciate through 2019 for most locations and types of properties, which is reflected in the January 1, 2020 assessed values. Total Assessed Value in the county increased approximately $2.87 billion, which includes $448,999,987 in new construction value.

Whatcom County Assessor’s Office press release – November 21, 2020

Every year, 1/6th of all properties in Whatcom County are physically inspected and reassessed. In 2020, the Assessor’s Office inspected Downtown Bellingham, Columbia, Lettered Streets, Roosevelt, Geneva, and Sudden Valley. The other 5/6th of all properties see their values adjusted “based on a statistical update, from analysis of sales of similar properties,” according to the press release.

The Assessor’s Office press release said the percentage increases in values seen by multifamily properties throughout the county were 10% or higher as were single-family homes in Ferndale and homes on larger acreage in several areas “including Meridian, north Lynden and greater Acme.”

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Residential single family in Lynden, Blaine and Birch Bay saw increases, while Sumas, Nooksack, and Everson saw no change. Condo units increased in most areas. Some commercial properties, primarily in and around Bellingham, saw increases as well.

A number of properties saw no change in value, and will receive no Change of Value Notice.

Whatcom County Assessor’s Office press release – November 21, 2020

Not all property taxes increase based on the property value. In those cases, the tax due is based on the total valuation of property within the tax district and a calculated mil rate (the tax rate applied per $1,000 of assessed property value) that will result in a fixed amount to be spread across the district. In other cases, a mil rate is set and regardless of valuations, that is what is used to calculate taxes due. The latter results in higher taxes in times of higher valuations and lower taxes in times of lower valuations.

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