Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blaine property values remain stagnant

Only south county areas saw increases

Express Staff Writer

Just like last year at this time, the Blaine County Assessor's office is reporting dropping property values throughout the county.

On Tuesday, the assessor's office went before the Blaine County Commission to report trends in property values county appraisers saw during 2008. Hardest hit were places like Bellevue, which saw similar declines back in 2007, and Hailey's Woodside and China Garden neighborhoods. Also hit by dropping property values was the city's downtown area.

In those places, the declines in property values ranged anywhere from 8 to 25 percent, said county appraiser Traci Beer. Across the rest of the city, property values declined only slightly, stayed even or in a few spots increased just a bit, she said.

Up in Ketchum, county appraiser Tammy Robison said property values generally dropped anywhere between 5 and 15 percent in 2008. Reporting similar declines in mid-valley from Greenhorn Gulch north to Ketchum was appraiser Jim Williams.

"I've seen changes anywhere from 5 to 20 percent down," he said.

One bright spot for property values in 2008 was the south county areas of Carey and Picabo, appraiser Nina Orvik said.

"The city of Carey in 2008 is actually holding its own," she said. "Picabo has fared pretty well also. There's a lot of activity in Picabo."

Orvik speculated that the natural amenities in those two largely agricultural areas may help.

"I really think it's the rural area and the proximity to Silver Creek," she said.

Orvik did note that some early indications that would suggest that even in Carey, property values may not continue to increase. She said several property listings in the city that have been placed on the market recently are coming in lower than she expected. However, she said can't use those figures for appraisal purposes because they haven't sold.

Though the Wood River Valley has in the past been isolated to some degree from outside forces in the real estate market, that has begun to change somewhat, said Blaine County Assessor Valdi Pace.

"I think that we're seeing more decreases than we normally would," she said.

Pace told the commissioners that she hasn't come up with a preliminary assessed value for the entire county yet. She said she will likely have that figure completed sometime later next week.

Still, she said one difference between the local area and the rest of the nation is that the number of real estate sales has remained somewhat consistent during the ongoing downturn in the country's housing market.

Throughout the county, the Woodside area in Hailey saw the worst rate of foreclosures in 2008, Pace said. This is the second year in a row that people have simply been walking away from their homes because they couldn't afford to pay their mortgage and they couldn't find a buyer, she said.

"Woodside is probably getting hit the hardest," she said.

This news was of particular interest to Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen, who raised concerns about the difficulty some working-class families are having staying there.

"These are parts of the county that people felt are more affordable," he said.

Jason Kauffman:

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