LAFAYETTE — Lafayette Parish Assessor Conrad Comeaux said his office plans to wrap up its four-year review of property values next month, setting the stage for property taxes to rise or fall based on new assessments.
Comeaux said there seems to be no trend up or down in the reassessments, which are generally derived from sales prices of nearby homes and property for the six months before and after Jan. 1, 2011.
“Some areas are up. Some areas are down. There is no rhyme or reason to it,” Comeaux said.
When the last round of reassessment notices were mailed out in 2008, the assessed values of some homes had shot up as much as 40 percent, meaning bigger property tax bills followed.
Such a big jump in assessments seems unlikely this year, because the housing market in Lafayette, though better than some areas of the country, has remained fairly flat since the last re-assessment, Van Eaton & Romero Chief Executive Officer Bill Bacqué said.
“There were no dramatic declines, nor has there been an increase,” said Bacqué, who publishes a regular real estate market report using figures from the Realtor Association of Acadiana.
Bacqué said the property re-assessment four years ago came at the tail end of a booming market in which the average sales price of homes in Lafayette Parish rose from $158,912 in January 2003 to $195,086 in January 2007.
The average sales price of homes in January 2011 — the benchmark for the current re-assessment — was $194,311, dipping slightly since January 2007.
“It certainly hasn’t been booming since 2007,” Bacqué said.
While average values have been stable, there have been nuances that have pushed prices up or down in different pockets of the parish, Bacqué said.
Those localized shifts make it difficult to make any general prediction on assessments, Comeaux said.
“It’s kind of hard to tell exactly how it’s going to turn out,” Comeaux said.
Some homeowners and businesses might see assessments rise regardless of sales trends, Comeaux said, because the Assessor’s Office is using new aerial photography of the parish to get a better handle on the square-footage of structures, a key measurement in determining property value.
He said the aerial images were shot in March, and the staff can use the scaled pictures to determine square footage rather than having to visit homes and businesses to take measurements.
“We have better data this time around,” Comeaux said.
Property re-assessments are expected to be mailed in August, he said, and taxpayers will have an opportunity to dispute the re-assessments before property tax bills go out at the end of the year.