Newspaper Archive of
Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island, Washington
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April 20, 1994     Mercer Island Reporter
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April 20, 1994
 

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A4 Mercer Island Reporter Wednesday. April 30,1994 Keeping track of what your property’s worth Tax appraisers busy on new revaluations By Chris Norred Mercer Island Reporter n the back seat of her blue sta- tion wagon, Kay Busch keeps a picture of your house. In her job as appraiser with the King County Department of Assessments, Busch drives her four-wheel-drive station wagon from house to house, making sure tax records accurately depict the existing house and property. She carries a Polaroid camera and a box of file folders holding proper- ty tax records for hundreds of homes on Mercer Island. “It’s important,” says Busch. “Each of us realizes that every- thing we do has a direct impact on the taxpayer. We try to be as fair as we can." In recent months, appraisers like Busch have been working on Mercer Island and throughout King County on their final reviews before the biennial revaluation of property. In May, homeowners will re- ceive notices indicating whether their homes increased or de— creased in value, according to the assessor. Busch and the other appraisers must put price tags on 650,000 par- cels of property in King County, according to Nancy Rising, assis— tant to the county assessor. Since 1978, the appraisers have reval- ued property in the county every two years. OVERALL, property values are not changing dramatically this year, according to Brent Wilde, head of appraisal. But the real estate market is segmented with some areas increasing while others are not. “Mercer Island is very unusual because waterfront property is hard to predict,” Wilde said. Ap- praisers spend months on the Is- land. They personally examine Andrea Marchese Kay Busch, appraiser for the King County Department of Assessments, drives around Mercer Island to updates property files. She’s working on fi‘ nal reviews before new revaluation notices are sent out in May. more than half of the homes here. In other parts of the county, appraisers rely on market studies and computer models to adjust values up or down with the trends. And personal appraisals are less common. Busch and her colleagues have been working full—time on Mercer Island for about two months. They wrapped up work this week and will conduct a final analysisin their office before the notices are mailed. Homeowners have about one month, until July 1, to appeal if they believe their home is ap- praised incorrectly. Four years ago, when property values in King County shot up nearly 100 percent, more than 17,000 people appealed their value notice. In 1992, the number was slightly smaller. According to Rising, the asses- sor’s office has taken a new ap- proach to appeals. “We’re trying to be more taxpayer-friendly,” she said. “We tell the appraisers, if they can defend it, fine. If not, then change it.” “We try to get the fair market value,“ says Busch. “That is one of the key points. We understand this is very important to the tax- payers and it’s necessary to be accurate.” BUSCH STARTED working for the Department of Assessments ATTENTION ALL NANNIES Would you like to meet other nannies on the Island 12 years ago on the clerical staff. “I quickly realized I wanted to be an appraiser.” She earned her de- gree and a certificate in appraisal then applied. Today, she is presi- dent of the International Associa- tion of Assessing Officers, which promotes education among ap- praisers. “You have to stay abreast of things because it all changes so fast. For example, in the 19505, nobody considered things like the Growth Management Act, con- taminated properties or the Wet- lands Act," she said. Busch lives in Ballard. She is a mother and an active volunteer for Boy Scouts. She is assigned to the property on Mercer Island north of 1—90. The process starts with vacant land. She collects sales records for vacant land and interviews the buyer and the seller to make sure that no special conditions af— fected the sale. For example, if a daughter bought the land from her mother, it might not be con— sidered a fair market sale. Busch and her colleagues study the sales. They make a chart, which shows how property has been selling above or below its listed value. Dozens of factors must be con- sidered: the shape of the parcel, Width of the waterfront, steepness of the land, access to the main road, size of the parcel and the cost to demolish an old structure on the land. This year, appraisers are striv- ing toward a accurate land value, according to Nancy Rising. Homeowners may see the value of their land increase, even if their house does not. After they establish land val- ues, Busch explained, the ap-. praisers work on houses. Houses are graded by the quality of con- struction: grade one is a shack; grade seven is a plain, no frills Mercer Island PET home; grade eight is 12 percent better than grade seven: and grade 13 is a mansion. Mercer Island has a lot of grade 13 mansions. Even more factors contribute to the value of a house: the view, a dock, maintenance and upkeep, age, size, window type, heating system and more. With all of those factors, a computer system matches the home with a market study and de- termines a value. Busch checks to make sure the house matches the description. Old photos in the tax record help her recognize if any significant remodels occurred. The photos also tip her if trees have grown up to block the views from the house, or if parts of the house are falling into disrepair. If she sees something that does not match the record, she makes an adjustment, with a note of ex- planation. Whether her note adds to the value or decreases it, she is striv- ing for accuracy. Annual Island NDEX and Map Advertise in the Mercer Island Reporter annual Island Index and receive a free listing on the [avatar map. The Island Index is a valuable resource guide for Island residents who want to know current information about schools. churches. volunteer agencies. parks and recreation activities and events as well as services provided by the city. PUBLISHED: May 18, 1994 CALL: Lorraine Swinford: 232-1215 “lfii‘ifi REPORTER ART :EBIIIIATES'I" a bed, or for that matter, a whole room. for You come to us for over o o o fun, education support Board gave the community center CALL LESLEE at 2,500 fabrics, the ideas, — Continued from A1. committee agreed not to consider selling the Community Center to private developers. to City Hall for free and asked Is— land voters to raise taxes in the full amount necessary to finish the high school remodel. 236-2809 to help form the ALL ISLAND NANNY NETWORK FLEASIII the custom labor and the best “The whole thing could turn out to be a hotbed of rest,” said Jonathon Oesting, a School Board member. Some officials believe the issue may re-ignibe, however. What if the City Council asks voters to raise taxes for the com- munity center and the voters de— cline? council member Fred Jar- rett inquired. Will the school dis- trict sell to private developers then? “This is a choice for the voters to make,” Jarrett said. “I think the council has been committed to keeping the community center in public ownership but has also tak- en the stance that the public has to be willing to pay for it.” “Part of our interest in having a vote on this is to test and be as- sured the citizens do want a com- munity center there,” said Frank Morrison, a member of the spe- cial committee. Voters will need to understand the consequences of any tax vote, said Phil Flash, a citizen at the meeting. “You have to look down- stream a little bit and say do you want to maintain the facility there, or do you want to tear it down and put a community center downtown.” THE REPORT on Monday said taxes could rise anywhere from $16 to $45 a year for the owner of a $350,000 home on Mercer Island if City Hall buys the center. But offi- cials said the numbers were only hypothetical and not related to what the real cost may be. One plan does not include a tax increase. That plan requires City Hall to use current funds and make payments to the school dis- trict. However, the City Hall budget is already facing cuts in thle‘ next five years to avoid red in . The other plans involve a straightforward city tax increase, and combinations of lease-pur- chase agreements that may split the tax increase between city pa- perwork and school district pa- perwork. “Either way, it's the same debt for the same taxpayers,” said Mike Ziara, associate super- intendent of schools. A tax increase is likely to be unpopular, Jarrett said, because citizens argue against paying for the community center when they already own it - in essence, they would be asked to, buy it from themselves. “We will have to respond to that in 'some way,” Jarrett said. School Board member Boyd Vander Houwen said he believes that citizens want the district to sell the property. “The message to me as a board member was ‘Don’t sit on your assets.’ “Nobody was going to support our capital facilities bonds while we had (the community center) sitting there.” One citizen said the issue would be simpler if the School SPL-(Mrizmo IN THE FINE ART OF (.OSMETIC SURGERY EXCLUSIVELY The” resolve A mar/lent in reflection CARILLON PLASTIC SURGERY CENTER 3100 CARILLON I’OINT- KIRKLAND, WA 206/453~5355 INSTITUTE/'1 AESTHETIC SURGERY flail/m.“ BeIore You Bu check out our se inferior E-Z KARE” and exterior WeatherAll® Points E-Z KARF"FI.AI' ENAMEL was Rated #1 in Consumer Report tIJhttl’S iusl the beginning! ‘ , AVAIIAB AI' HARDWARE STOP I. IE . MERCER ISLAND TRUE VALUE HARDWARE 2 72 26I5 - 76th Ave 0 Mercer Island , , JUMP ON YOU. JUMP 0N THEM... BEFORE THEY New Store Hours: Mom-Fri. 10 am-7 pm Sat. 9 am-5 pm - 78th Ave. SE at 230-0464'2' in front of the property you MERCERWOOD SHORE CLUB OPEN HOUSE Sunday, April 2'4 ‘ 4150 E. ‘Mercer' Way: _ coweu. BANKER E3 BAIN ASSOCIATES 7 Q. We see lots of "For Sale” signs on the island. Don’t you think it looks bad too have all those signs - not two mention the “open house signs on Wednesday and Sunday: A. We consider the "For Sale” and open house signs an important element‘in selling our clients properties. The sign increases the odds by appr0ximately 40%. Open house signs bring fellow realtors on Wednesday and customers on Sundays. There are some who object to signs and feel they have the right to take our signs from streets and front yards! Just last week two men who told neighbors they were authorized to remove a sign, stole it from a seller’s yard. This is not an isolated incident — so if you see anyone stealing Our signs, please report it to the police or to the appropriate office. We appreciate it and the sellers than you! . rJ71? $2017.90” /0 ffle 1—5 p.m. Register For: Swim, diving, water polo, tennis, fitness (classes and competitive teams) Other Amenities: Beach swimming, picnic 8c play area, volleyball, basketball, moorage, private boat ramp hobie cat. CALICO CORNERS“ m Lynnwood 3225 Altlerwood Mall Blvd. 0 (206) 778-8019' Bellevue ' 10/1 Bollevuc. Way SE. (206) 455-2510 Stores open. Mon. - Son, 10 6; Wed. I118; Sun, 12 5. prices on all of it. Kris Hobbs 232-1622