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L.A., O.C. tax rolls up for first time in 3 years
The uptick in values gives reason for optimism that the real estate market 'is growing stronger and continues to recover,' the L.A. County assessor says.
In Los Angeles County, property rolls gained $16.2 billion in value in the last fiscal year to reach $1.1 trillion. Above, construction workers on a residential housing work site in Burbank. (Fred Prouser / Reuters)
The uptick in values gives reason for optimism that "the real estate market in Los Angeles County and California is growing stronger and continues to recover," said Los Angeles County Assessor John R. Noguez.
"I think I'm probably the breath of fresh air that hope is finally resurfacing…" Noguez said. "When I shared this information with Gov. [Jerry] Brown, he was very happy."
In Los Angeles County, property rolls gained $16.2 billion in value in the last fiscal year to $1.1 trillion — driven largely by sales and changes in ownership of residential property, as well as new construction. In Orange County, the rise was $3.6 billion, raising the county's total taxable value to $420 billion.
The increase in assessments using the formula established when voters approved Proposition 13 in 1978 was tempered, however, by the fact that the true sales value of properties declined over the same period.
In Los Angeles County, the median home price was $318,000 in June, down from $335,000 a year earlier, according to DataQuick of San Diego.
Government leaders said they continue to worry about high joblessness and the resulting effect on sales and income tax revenue, but the increase in assessed property value removes a significant headwind that has worked against them in recent years.
"While it's a small increase in assessed value, the assessor's report is good news and signals there may be better days ahead," said Ryan Alsop, a spokesman for Los Angeles County Chief Executive William T Fujioka.
"Continuing to maintain service levels, avoid layoffs and produce a balanced budget, long term, will only be possible to the extent recent economic indicators showing signs of improvement are sustained," Alsop said.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said, "What we have here is the deepest and most prolonged recession in my memory. Overall, everybody is being cautious. We don't know where we'll be in a year."
Like the county overall, the region's largest cities also saw gains. In Los Angeles, the assessed value increased 1.5% to $432 billion. In Long Beach, the value rose 1.4% to $44.6 billion. But Noguez noted that not all cities saw gains.
"I live in Huntington Park, where the market is still struggling," he said. "It's one of those places that has not stabilized yet, where the foreclosure crisis is not over."
Yet economists agreed that the news was good overall and said that the positive effect would reach the private sector as well.
John J. Blank, deputy chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., said "the banks [that] have liens on all these properties are going to have a little more margin of safety so the loan-loss reserves can finally gain some clarity."
"This is good news and potentially very good news," Blank said. "There's never been a strong recovery without housing coming back."