Property assessments skyrocket

February 6, 2016

Photo courtesy Rebecca Bennett.

BY REBECCA BENNETT — When City of Hyattsville residents received their residential property assessments for 2016, many were shocked at the value the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation placed on their homes. Those assessments — some residents say they were double the previous assessments — went up not only for the City of Hyattsville, but for many of the surrounding neighborhoods.

At a community meeting she organized on the subject, Prince George’s County Councilmember Deni Taveras (District 2) said it’s a good thing that property values have gone up. She said county tax will not increase much initially, but it will affect stormwater, trash, and Maryland National Capital Parking & Planning fees.

Hyattsville City Treasurer Ron Brooks said the increased assessments don’t necessarily mean that residents will pay higher taxes. “It all depends on how the city reacts after the assessment,” he said. According to Brooks, the county sends the city an estimated revenue and a constant yield rate, which prevents city residents from being double taxed. The city then has the option to keep the rate, lower the rate or raise the rate.

The city’s current tax rate is 63 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is where it has been since 2005, even though the city saw a great decline in 2013 property assessments. For next year’s budget, city staff will submit the budget on Feb. 24. After that, there will be discussions and hearings on the budget and tax rate.

Daniel Puma, supervisor of assessments for Prince George’s County, said each group of neighborhoods is assessed every three years. Nearby Colmar Manor and Cottage City saw increases in their assessments last year, while areas like Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, Brentwood, Riverdale and others saw increases this year.

The assessments, Puma said at a community meeting, are made by looking at the market sales values of arms-length transactions in the community and in similar communities. They do not consider foreclosures and similar types of sales. He said they were done by neighborhood and not by zipcode, so houses in the City of Hyattsville, for example, were not compared to sales of houses in University Park.

According to Puma, one reason assessments went up is because the market improved in the local area. The Washington Post recently reported the median price of Hyattsville (20782) increased 18 percent in 2015 to $265,500. “Some of the areas are revitalizing, like Mount Rainier, the Route 1 Corridor and Hyattsville,” he said. “I think a lot of people … bought their houses in 2009 or 2010 when the market was down and when the properties were in distress. Now they are at that point where they are ready to sell and they are putting their properties on the market.”

Residents who do not agree with their property assessment have until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 11 to appeal. A recent list of comparable houses and the prices for which they sold can be attached, Puma said, though the comparable list is not a requirement to appeal. On the back of the notice, it lists instructions for residents to request the property worksheet and the comparable sales notice.

If an appeal is requested by Feb. 11, residents can always withdraw that appeal after more information is gathered, Puma said.

“It’s important to me that people get an answer if they feel it’s too high,” Puma said. “Don’t worry about what it went up. But if they think it’s too high, they should appeal.”

Options for residents appealing include a face-to-face hearing, a telephone hearing, or a simple request for review. Puma said all of the options would garner the same results. According to the Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation website, after this initial appeal, residents can appeal to the the Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board and then the Maryland Tax Court.

Residents can apply for a Homestead Tax Credit for their primary residence, which limits a tax on the property assessment to a 10 percent increase. Residents who make less than $60,000 per year can apply for a Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit by Sept. 1 each year.

Tax bills on the assessed value are issued in July of each year and due Sept. 30. Property assessments will be made again for the City of Hyattsville in 2019.

To appeal a property assessment by 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 11, email Dan Puma at dan.puma@maryland.gov, visit www. dat.maryland.gov, or having the written appeal postmarked by Feb. 11 to Prince George’s County Assessment Office, 14735 Main Street, Suite 3548, Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772-3014.