Reappraised property values in La Plata County showed an increase in both residential and commercial properties throughout the county, according to La Plata County Assessor Carrie Woodson.
Every two years, the La Plata County Assessor’s Office reappraises all properties in the county. This year, the office based assessments off market sales from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2020.
“Appraisers review these sales by area, looking at entire economic areas and the neighborhoods or groups of neighborhoods within the economic area,” Woodson said.
An “economic area” is a geographic area of the county that has similar trends, such as all residential land in the city of Durango, including Three Springs and Twin Buttes, or the towns of Bayfield and Ignacio.
La Plata County has 29 different economic areas, Woodson said.
“The important factors to grouping neighborhoods together are their similarities,” she said. “An example would be central water/sewer and or distance to city center.”
County staff members begin by viewing sales of vacant land to determine what the property sold for and the current actual value in the Assessor’s Office data, Woodson said. The ratios are then applied to all sold and non-sold properties.
In La Plata County, for tax years 2021 and 2022, the change in value across the county was 5% for both land and improvements, based on sales from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2020. Woodson said the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in March 2020, had an impact on both residential and commercial properties.
Woodson said condos in Durango city limits had significant market activity, increasing between 2% and 16%, while condos out of town, such as near Purgatory Resort, increased in value 30% to 50% over the two-year period.
“Condos tend to be on the lower value end of the spectrum, and, as such, had lots of sales and increasing values,” she said.
Woodson said the closer a property is located to Durango, the higher its value to both land and improvements.
Areas north of Durango, including the Animas Valley, had increased values that ranged from 13% to 16%. In the Edgemont neighborhood, northeast of Durango, some land values increased up to 20%, Woodson said.
On the flip side, commercial land value was relatively flat, except for the Grandview and Three Springs areas in east Durango.
“Commercial land in Grandview increased 5% while commercial improvements increased in value 10%,” she said. “As you go farther away from Durango, the change in value for both land and improvements range from 5% to 20%.”
Residential value is somewhat similar, Woodson said, in that the farther from Durango one goes, the lower the cost of real estate.
Bayfield and Ignacio, for instance, had lower overall value for real estate but showed an active market in 2020. Land values around Bayfield increased 14%, while Ignacio saw an increase of about 6%.
“We are seeing the ‘affordable-type’ property value increase (significantly),” Woodson said.
Woodson said the COVID-19 pandemic created an active residential market, resulting in value increases in most areas.
Commercial properties, however, were more impacted. Businesses such as hotels, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, movie theaters and offices took a hit, while others, such as big-box stores, grocery stores and fast food restaurants remained steady.
The Assessor’s Office applied an “economic obsolescence adjustment” to impacted businesses that ranged from 8% to 40%, with businesses such as hotels and movie theaters on the high end, and office buildings on the low end.
An economic obsolescence adjustment, according to its legal definition, is a form of depreciation caused by factors that are not on the property, in the property or even within the property lines.
“It can be caused by factors like the neighborhood experiencing a rise in crime. It can also be caused by economic factors such as problems in the job market,” according to the definition.
Woodson said after reviewing commercial sales that occurred since June 30, it appears there already is a rebound in commercial value.
“In the next reappraisal cycle, property owners will see both the elimination of the COVID adjustment and an increase in market value,” she said.
Landowners should start receiving a “notice of value” after May 1. Property owners can appeal their value either online at the county website, by phone at 382-6221 or in person at the department’s office at 679 Turner Drive, Suite A.