Property values are up in Pueblo County. Your tax bill may rise, too

Property values across Pueblo County increased by more than $280 million over the past few years, ballooning to nearly $2.2 billion across all property classifications, according to recent valuation numbers released by the county assessor.  

It’s an increase of 14.7% between 2019 and 2021, compared to an 8.3% increase at the last appraisal in 2019.

The county reappraises property value during odd-numbered years. 

“It was expected because we’ve seen what the market is doing. We see all the sales that come through,” Pueblo County Assessor Frank Beltran said. “So that collection period of all of 2019 and the first half of 2020, we could see the values keep climbing, so we knew it was coming.” 

It means property owners should be prepared for an increase in property taxes owed this year, especially for properties between 700 and 1,599 square feet, according to Beltran. 

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The value of vacant land experienced the highest increase among the different property classifications. It increased by 55% from approximately $48.6 million in 2019 to about $75.6 million this year.  

The value of agricultural land increased by 23.4% from approximately $26.8 million to approximately $33.2 million.  

Commercial and industrial land value increased by a modest 1.5%, a growth rate much slower than the 6.7% growth that property type experienced from the last valuation. The value of that type of land in the county is approximately $591 million. 

Finally, residential property saw an increase of 25.4% from $734.2 million to $920.9 million.  

Casey Edwards, the president of the Pueblo Association of Realtors, said that the valuation increases match what he sees in the local and statewide real estate market with an increase in home prices and multiple offers per property. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the increase was higher than the number from the assessor’s office.  

He said it’s a “positive thing to have a steady appreciation,” that is, if it continues and doesn’t result in a housing bubble.  

“It’s difficult for a typical buyer to get into the market, especially if you have multiple offers,” he said.

It has become more common for buyers to put in offers higher than the seller’s asking price, which Edwards said also makes it hard to price a home accurately.  

The median housing value in the county was approximately $165,000, according to the most recent American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

The Pueblo County assessor’s office has a new property value search website as of May 3, switching from an in-house system to a private vendor.

During the transition to that new program, the office found inconsistencies in how properties were valued.

The new program automatically picked up the cost-based approach for appraisal, which creates the highest form of value, when it should have used an income-based approach. 

The Board of County Commissioners approved more than $706,000 in property tax abatements during two April meetings in order to clean up the errors.  

“We thought once it was calculated as an approach to value — the income approach, we thought it would stay there. Our programmers thought it would stay there. Apparently, when we did something, it changed it from income to cost, and we didn’t know that until after the tax bills,” Beltran said during an April 15 Board of County Commissioners meeting.  

The assessor’s office is sending updated notices of values to property owners this week.

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Chieftain reporter Sara Wilson can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @WilsonSaraJane.