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Forsyth County home valuations irk neighborhoods

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Forsyth County Board of Equalization and Review changed the values of some homes in the Monticello Park neighborhood Thursday.

One of them belongs to Gail Roberts.

"In 2008 it was worth about $200,000," Roberts said. "This year they had me at forty-nine five ($49,500), and I about fell out when I read that."

Roberts appealed, as did many property owners in the area, prompting the decision by the board.

Forsyth County Tax Assessor John Burgiss said his department hasn't had much to go on in this appraisal cycle, which stretches from 2008 to 2012.

"We've had an all-time low in the number of appeals this year, but we've had an all-time high in the concentration of those appeals," Burgiss said.

To clarify, most people have not appealed their home valuation, but those that have often been concentrated in the same area.

That brings us back to Monticello Park and 13 other neighborhoods. The board decided to review the valuation of those neighborhoods after dramatic drops in value, with some homes losing more than 50 percent of their value.

Many of them are clustered around Carver School Road and New Walkertown Road on the east side of town.

These include Ferrell Heights, Skyland Park, Monticello Park, Dreamland Park, Northwoods Development, Community Redevelopment Section One (between Cleveland St and Cameron Ave), Slater Park, Castle Heights, Castleshire, and Whitfield.

The Shalimar and Reynolds Park neighborhoods are south of that cluster; Konnoak Acres and Southcrest homes are on either side of US 52 near South Main Street.

Additionally many of these neighborhoods are predominately populated by African-Americans, a fact that unsettled some residents of Monticello Park and Slater Park.

Burgiss said race did not play a factor in which neighborhoods.

"We don't base our valuations on race or any other factors other than the value of the property itself and similar properties in the neighborhood," Burgiss said.

The problem, according to Burgiss, is the lack of qualified sales in these areas.

These are home sales that do not involve a foreclosure, a charity, or a family member among other things that can distort a property's true value.

What properties sell for in qualified sales helps determine the rate at which other properties are appraised. From 2008 to 2012 there was a small sample size of qualified sales in these neighborhoods, according to Burgiss.

"We only had three in Monticello Park," Burgiss said.

Burgiss invited unhappy property owners to appeal by calling 703-2300 and asking for the forms by mail or by going to www.co.forsyth.nc/tax and using the Geo-Data tool.