Kent County property values reach all-time high


Kent County’s equalized property values have increased from last year’s all-time high.

The state equalization value for a combined total of real and personal property is $27,131,963,621, a 4.7 percent increase from the previous year. This marks the sixth year of increases.

There are roughly a quarter-million properties in the county.

That total number includes $25.5 billion in real equalized value — building structures themselves — and $1.6 billion in personal equalized value — furnishings inside the commercial, industrial and utility buildings.

The latest value marks the sixth year of increases following a five-year period, 2008-12, that saw significant value decreases, including the low point of just below $21 billion in 2012. The county’s equalized value was $24.3 billion in 2007.

The state taxable value of the real and personal property saw a 4.81 percent increase to $22,889,416,524, following adjustments from Proposal A.

Real taxable value for 2018 was $21.3 billion, and personal taxable value is $1.6 billion.

Taxable value’s lowest point was $20 billion in 2013.

Residential property makes up 71.98 percent of real taxable value, while commercial, industrial and agricultural property counts for 21.6 percent, 5.37 percent and 1.05 percent, respectively.

For personal taxable value, commercial makes up 50.65 percent, utility makes up 28.93 percent and industrial makes up 20.42 percent.

The county’s nine cities make up 51.67 percent of the equalized value, while the 21 townships account for 48.33 percent.

“The economy in West Michigan continues to thrive, and along with the economy, the underlying real estate values are also thriving,” said Matt Woolford, Kent County equalization director.

As the population continues to grow, the demand those people put on the market continues to drive values upward, he said, adding the housing inventory is at an “all-time low.”

He foresees overall continued growth in 2019.

“Really, the real estate cycle is tied to the economic cycle, and as long as the economic fundamentals are solid, we will continue to achieve growth in the real estate cycle as well,” Woolford said.

The assessed values are a lagging indicator of the economy, with the 2018 values coming from an observed period from April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2017, for residential assessment. The majority of market changes in 2017 won’t show until the 2019 report.

He said there is certainly a “big question mark” surrounding what will happen with properties in northern Kent County that have been affected by water contamination issues involving Wolverine Worldwide.

“What remains to be seen is how will the real and perceived negative impacts of that environmental contamination interlace with the overall growth in the tremendous demand for homes?” Woolford said.

“Everything causes change,” he said, and factors — such as low housing supply — that drive prices up still are in play. With that under consideration, he said any change caused by the contamination issues would be difficult to exactly pinpoint.

“I do anticipate that there’s still going to be growth in those areas; however, we will never really know how much growth there would have been if those factors hadn’t come into play,” Woolford said.

He would encourage property owners who are worried about contamination to educate themselves about the facts and discuss that with their assessors.

Assessors follow the market, he said; they don’t predict it. Private real estate agents set the market.

“We will factor in the impacts of the environmental contamination in northern Kent County, but it won’t be us doing it,” he said. “It will be the individual market participants who tell us what’s happening based on what they do.”

The following are the total real and personal property values since 1991:

1991 – $8,523,945,456

1992 – $8,800,472,010

1993 – $9,620,813,847

1994 – $10,045,491,779

1995 – $10,600,047,400

1996 – $11,512,696,884

1997 – $12,422,298,191

1998 – $13,647,702,170

1999 – $14,874,132,432

2000 – $15,912,899,100

2001 – $17,212,047,916

2002 – $18,647,720,962

2003 – $19,919,370,780

2004 – $20,930,699,290

2005 – $22,119,875,769

2006 – $23,346,848,319

2007 – $24,338,570,446

2008 – $24,296,248,175

2009 – $23,810,524,071

2010 – $22,577,744,317

2011 – $21,735,166,525

2012 – $20,988,856,355

2013 – $20,992,849,006

2014 – $21,611,336,604

2015 – $23,036,449,123

2016 – $24,129,416,055

2017 – $25,917,411,675

2018 – $27,131,963,621

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