Residents of Brentwood, a changing working-class neighborhood in Northeast Washington booming with economic development, will see a 46 percent increase in their 2008 property values, city officials said yesterday.
Overall, property assessments in the District will increase 9.6 percent -- less than any time in the past five years, said Thomas Branham, chief property assessor. With tax caps and homestead exemptions, Branham estimates that the tax rate will be "reduced a little bit," to 6 percent or less in 2008.
But some areas stand out.
"In general, some of the more affordable and lower-priced neighborhoods are the areas that have appreciated the highest percentage," Branham said. "We actually saw that last year as well."
At that time, assessments increased an average of nearly 22 percent citywide, but the double-digit trend stopped this year, he said. In some nearby localities, such as Fairfax County, assessments slipped slightly, but Maryland's statewide increase over last year's assessments rose nearly 19 percent, officials said.
The D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue said more than 180,000 property assessment notices for 2008 should reach residents' homes today. With recent changes in District law that cap property taxes, 90 percent of the city's homeowners will actually have tax increases that are 10 percent or less, according to a recent analysis by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute.
"While assessments may be rising, tax bills are not rising much for many families because D.C. has cut the property tax rate in recent years and set a 10 percent cap on how much the taxable assessment can grow each year," said Ed Lazere, executive director of the institute. Because of the cap, 2005 tax relief and an increase in homestead exemptions, "our main finding is that two-thirds of D.C. homeowners have smaller tax bills in 2007 than in 2005."
Former D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr., who represented Ward 5 for eight years, said the property value rise in Brentwood is a direct result of economic development. During the Democrat's two terms, Rhode Island Plaza was built. The businesses there include a Giant supermarket, Home Depot, Radio Shack, two banks and a department store.
"I'm sure the residents are elated by having their homes appreciate," said Orange, who left office in January after an unsuccessful run for mayor. "It shows that they made a good investment by staying in the Brentwood area and embracing community development."
Ruth Wilson, a 52-year Brentwood resident, said she is not surprised that her values are higher. In the past week alone, Wilson said, she has received notices from real estate agents saying houses in her neighborhood have sold for more than $250,000. She paid about $20,000 in 1954.
"This is great news," Wilson said. "If we had to sell our houses, we'd make more money."
Many neighborhoods, such as Congress Heights, that showed significant appreciation in 2006 had slightly lower increases this year.
From 2006 to 2007, the Southeast Washington neighborhood increased 41 percent. From 2007 to 2008, Congress Heights residents will have a 23 percent increase.
The tax office used 10,000 recent sales in 128 neighborhoods to calculate the new residential assessments. When the notices arrive, homeowners should review the property characteristics for their home to make sure the city records reflect what is in inside, Branham said.
He encouraged residents who think their assessments are wrong to file appeals by April 2. Half of the 2007 tax bills are scheduled to be paid by March 31 and the remainder by Sept. 15.
Ryan Eades, 29, bought a three-story, century-old rowhouse in December in Bloomingdale, near Brentwood. He and his wife have replaced 14 windows and are planning to renovate the kitchen and bathrooms. "I am completely confident that everything that we put in the property, we're going to get back and then some," he said. "Other property owners are doing the same thing we're doing, and that's reassuring."