Waterfront values jump in annual valuation

Assessed values of Vashon homes have increased again after a double-digit drop in 2023.

Assessed values of Vashon homes have increased again after a double-digit drop in 2023.

For most island homeowners, the bump is minor: Less than 1 percent. But for waterfront homes — about one-quarter of Vashon’s housing stock — assessed values are up 8 percent over last year.

Appraisers in the King County Assessor’s Office completed their annual revaluation of Vashon residential properties in May. Their report was posted and revaluation notices were mailed to individual property owners last week.

The assessed value of island mobile and manufactured homes increased 3 percent year-over-year, according to the Assessor’s report. Undeveloped residential properties are up 2.8 percent.

The new valuations reflect changes in the market in 2023. They will be used to calculate property taxes due in 2025.

This year’s increases in assessed values on Vashon come after a 12 percent drop in 2023. That, in turn, followed unprecedented increases of 29 percent or more in 2022, and nearly 20 percent in 2021, as home prices soared.

Other parts of King County experienced similar volatility. Relatively modest increases in residential assessed values across the county this year reflect a return to something like normal, King County Assessor John Wilson said in a statement.

“After dramatic fluctuations in the residential market during the COVID years, values have returned to a steady level of increase,” he said.

Wilson’s appraisers will continue to revalue other communities through Labor Day. But among neighborhoods already revalued, average increases range from 4 percent in Cedar River/East Maple Valley and the Lake Youngs area near Kent, to more than 20 percent in the Eastside areas of Lake Hills and Sherwood/Bel-Red/Southwest Redmond.

In Seattle, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill and Leschi/Madison Park all saw average increases of about 6 percent, while assessed values in the Mount Baker/Seward Park area fell 2.5 percent.

The average increase on Vashon — including both waterfront and non-waterfront homes — is 3 percent.

The Assessor’s Office said the assessed values of most commercial properties will remain relatively flat — on Vashon, the average increase is just 1.5 percent.

But there are exceptions: On the mainland, while industrial properties will see increases of up to 10 percent, large office buildings will decrease between 30 and 35 percent, reflecting a drop in demand.

While the new assessed values will be a factor in determining next year’s property tax bills, 2025 budgets and property-tax levies adopted by the state, county and local governments this fall will play a bigger role.

By law, most of the 29 levies collected on Vashon in 2024 are limited to annual revenue increases of 1 percent, plus new construction, although voters have approved higher annual limits for some.

Voters have approved just one levy renewal and increase this year that will affect Vashon tax bills in 2025: The Vashon Island School District’s capital technology levy, approved in February.

There are no property tax measures that affect Vashon on the August primary ballot, and none on the horizon for the November general election ballot. King County had contemplated asking voters in November to approve a property tax increase to fund climate-change programs, but officials decided this spring that the time isn’t right.

Two small county levies expire this year and will not be collected in 2025: A levy voters approved in 2015 to build a new emergency radio system, and a measure voters approved in 2018 to fund an automated fingerprint identification system.

The Assessor’s appraisers established new values for Vashon residential properties using an analysis of three years of island sales data. Taxpayers who believe those values don’t reflect the market value of their homes have 60 days from the “mail date” shown on their revaluation notices to file an appeal, by mail or online, with the King County Board of Appeals and Equalization.

Information on the appeals process can be found at tinyurl.com/appealvaluation.

While assessed values can be appealed, property taxes cannot.

Eric Pryne is a retired Seattle Times journalist.