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An Examination of Vertical Equity Over Two Reassessment Cycles

Author: Earl D. Benson and Arthur L. Schwartz, Jr.

Start Page: 255
End Page: 273
Volume: 19
Issue Number: 3
Year: 2000
Publication: Journal of Real Estate Research

Abstract: This article examines vertical equity in the assessment of single-family homes over two assessment cycles in Bellingham, Washington. The two assessment periods, which are four years apart, followed two differing property appreciation periods. The 1992 reassessment followed an explosion in home values, while the 1996 reassessment came after more moderate price appreciation. The assessed value/ market value ratio is the basic tool of this study with actual sales prices assumed to be market value. Utilizing a database of 721 home sales from January, 1990 to December, 1992, this study’s empirical analysis suggests regressive vertical inequity in 1992. This situation appears to have changed in 1996. Results from a second database consisting of 835 home sales from January, 1994 through December, 1996, suggest a substantial reduction in vertical inequity. Overall, it appears that the County Assessor’s office addressed the previous problem with positive results for the average property taxpayer of Whatcom County.

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