Smithfield Leaders Concerned About High Property Tax Valuations

Vacant House Smithfield
This home in South Smithfield recently sold below tax value.

2015 Homes Sales Averaging 12% Below County Appraisals

Some Smithfield town leaders are unhappy with the way Johnston County values residential property. 

Like many county residents who received their 2015 property tax bills in the mail this week, Town Councilman Perry Harris said he was surprised to see how high the county has his personal residence appraised.  Harris noted there is a big difference in what the tax value is on his home and what it could actually be sold for. 

“What can we do as a municipality to see what can be done?” Harris asked his fellow board members. “People can’t sell their homes at the appraised value. It would probably sell 20 percent below appraised value.”

“It’s a problem,” replied Town Attorney Bob Spence.

“They don’t seem to have the right approach to residential values in town,” Harris stated.

Mayor John Lampe said he appealed the value tax assessors had assigned to his home and won.  Harris said the overpriced values are a “deterrant” to people looking at buying a home in the town of Smithfield.  

Sheila Garner, Johnston County Tax Administrator, was not at the meeting but did tell WTSB News that Johnston County is required by state law to complete a reappraisal once every 8 years. Johnston’s most recent appraisal took effect in 2011. The next reappraisal will take effect in 2019.     

“As of the effective date of our last reappraisal, January 1, 2011, the county conducted a sales ratio on all neighborhoods and market areas within the county,” Garner said.  “The ratio study for the Town of Smithfield at that time indicated the property tax assessment, when compared to the actual sales prices, were 98.85%.  After the reappraisal the tax office tracks sales, but does not perform a ratio study for each neighborhood and market area until we start preparing for our next general reappraisal.”

“If desired, we would be happy to perform a current sales ratio study on the sales of homes in the Town of Smithfield.  However; as mandated by law, the value of a property is to remain at the value established as of January 1, 2011 until the next revaluation,” Garner said Friday. “And while the actual sale price of some properties may be lower than the tax value, the actual sale price of some properties will also be higher than the tax value.”

“If a property owner would like to speak with an appraiser in our office about their property, one will be glad to assist them,” Garner said.  Owners have the opportunity to appeal the value of their property in April of each year. Appeal forms are available during the month of February. 

But are Smithfield residential tax values overpriced? WTSB did some research. The average value of all homes sold in the Town of Smithfield in the first 7 months of 2015 was 12% below the county tax office’s appraised value.  This included foreclosures and traditional home sales. 

Those with questions about their property values can contact the Johnston County Tax Office at 919-989-5130.