Property values rise in U.S. counties -survey

WASHINGTON Tue Nov 19, 2013 4:27pm EST

WASHINGTON Nov 19 (Reuters) - Many U.S. counties can expect an uptick in their leading revenue source - property taxes - after hundreds saw real estate values within their borders increase in 2012, a survey by Thomson Reuters and the National Association of Counties said Tuesday.

Altogether, 71 percent of the 712 county governments surveyed said their assessed property values had risen. Those governments represent roughly a quarter of all counties in the country. Counties in western states, where the housing downturn hit hard, are slightly behind - only 58 percent of those surveyed said the values had risen.

"Increases were reported across all county sizes, but most prevalent in counties with populations of 50,000 and under," the report found, adding that 2012 was the second straight year of increases.

Counties rely heavily on property taxes. As the real estate market turned a corner in recent years, though, their revenues have been slow to follow because of a time lag. Local governments infrequently re-assess the values used to determine how much tax to levy, with most following a three-year assessment cycle.

Among all the counties, 28 percent said they had seen a drop in property tax delinquencies and 30 percent an increase. For larger counties, 53 percent said property tax delinquencies had fallen off.

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