Annual property assessment notices were mailed to Latah County property owners this week, and most residential and commercial property owners will see increased assessments, according to Latah County Assessor Rod Wakefield.

Sales prices drive assessment values, Wakefield said in a news release from the assessor’s office.

The average Moscow single-family home sales price was $305,343 in 2019, $330,401 in 2020 and $333,401 through April 2021, the news release said.

Higher lumber costs and building labor shortages are two reasons for the rising prices. A low supply of existing homes coupled with low interest rates and an influx of people moving to and around Latah County who are willing to spend significantly more for homes also is fueling higher sales prices.

“The Assessor’s Office is responsible for tracking sales and adjusting home values based on sales trends,” the news release said. “We do not set the market or speculate; we respond to the market as it has occurred.”

While higher sales prices are the major factor in increased assessments, Wakefield wrote that other contributing factors include remodels, additions and new structures.

Property valuation increases do not directly correlate to tax increases, he said.

Wakefield wrote that assessed values are only one component of taxes. Taxing districts’ budgets and levy rates, which are set in November, play a big part.

“In theory, if values increase, levy rates should decrease,” he said.

The release said one small bright spot in assessments is that the Idaho Legislature this year increased the homeowner’s exemption from $100,000 to $125,000.

The homeowner’s exemption excludes half the value of a primary dwelling and 1 acre of land, up to $125,000 in value, when property tax is calcualted. For example, if a home is valued at $200,000, the homeowner would pay taxes on $100,000. If a home is valued at $500,000, the homeowner would pay taxes on $375,000.

Before 2016, the homeowner’s exemption was tied to the Idaho Housing Index, rising and falling in relation to the real estate market in Idaho. After the Legislature capped the exemption in 2016, residential property owners saw their taxes increase and their share of the tax burden rise at faster rates than other property types, the news release said.

For questions about a property assessment, residents can call (208) 883-5710 or visit the Latah County Assessor’s Office inside the Latah County Courthouse in Moscow, where an appraiser can explain the details.

Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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