Benton County property assessments show home value increase

Benton County property assessments show home value increase
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. -- Tens of thousands of homeowners in Benton County pulled a postcard out of the mail announcing a change in their property value. 10,000 more had a change this year compared to last year. KEPR found out what this means for our overall market value, as well as how this will affect your property tax.

Carole Lehfoldt has lived on Haupt Avenue in Richland for over 50 years. She says the original price of her home was cheaper than her current car. She loves her neighborhood.

"We are close to the river and we don't want everybody to know that, but we kind of like it here in our little niche close to the river," said Carole. "We kind of hang out on the benches by the river, the neighborhood, that's the hangout."

Carole wasn't surprised to learn her property value had increased about $80,000.

"I feel like the land has become more valuable," she said.

Assessed property values were changed for 30,000 homes. Carole's is in the same boat as about two-thirds of those that saw a change in Benton County: They went up in value.

Benton County Assessor Barbara Wagner says she can't remember a time when a third of the changes were values lowering. Most were centered in the east part of Kennewick.

"It doesn't say our market value is going down because we still have more going up than down, and it doesn't show that our market is stagnant, just staying level, so it's still increasing overall," said Wagner.

If your value went up, so did your property tax. Expect about $130 per year for every $10,000 increase in value.

"The tax increase just really isn't going to bother me," said Lehfoldt. "Food goes up, why shouldn't property go up?"

But some worry the increase isn't warranted and is simply done to raise taxes. Due to the property tax cap, only a small portion goes to the county. The rest lowers your levy rate for any district you are a part of, like fire, hospital and school districts.

And, if you don't agree with your assessment, there are options.

"We encourage them to call; we encourage them to come in," said Wagner.

You can appeal to have a second look at your value, which could see it changed in your favor.

It's free to appeal your new assessment. About 15 percent of people win their case. Call the assessor's office to learn how to appeal.