How does the assessed tax value and the sales price compare for homes in the Sequim area?  This is a question I get from clients moving to Sequim, and because it’s different around the country, clients ask me if the county assessed tax value of the home they might buy is the same as fair market value or the price at which homes actually sell.  In other words, would an independent bank appraisal be the same as the Clallam County Tax Assessment?  If you are going to make an offer on a home, wouldn’t you like to know if the assessed tax value is a good indicator of the true FMV?  Clients are willing to pay a reasonable price, but they don’t want to over pay for a home in this market.

Assessed Tax Value

Assessed Tax Value

Assessed Tax Value vs. Sales Price

Here are the precise sales prices and assessed tax values of the properties shown in the above graph:

Homes Sold Sept 2011 Sales Price Tax Value Percent
No 1 $205,000.00 $242,987.00 18.53%
No 2 $209,000.00 $299,885.00 43.49%
No 3 $219,000.00 $214,502.00 2.05%
No 4 $220,000.00 $207,711.00 5.59%
No 5 $229,500.00 $280,156.00 22.07%
No 6 $230,000.00 $308,911.00 34.31%
No 7 $265,000.00 $255,951.00 3.41%
No 8 $265,000.00 $262,322.00 1.01%
No 9 $343,250.00 $297,338.00 13.38%
No 10 $450,000.00 $383,216.00 14.84%
No 11 $500,500.00 $350,585.00 29.95%
No 12 $835,000.00 $704,755.00 15.60%
Average $285,113.00 $282,142.18 1.04%

Assessed Tax Value Not Always True Fair Market Value

As you can see, the relationship between assessed tax value and the sales price of homes (sales price determines the ultimate true FMV) is not equal from home to home.  The County Assessors do not have the time or resources to appraise homes as thoroughly as certified loan appraisers.  The tax assessor’s office often does “curb appraisals” as they drive by the tens of thousands of homes they must assess.  Sometimes they get it right.  Sometimes they are too low.  Sometimes too high, and once in a while they are way off.  That’s the nature of cursory tax assessments.  They are not appraisals.  (The 12 homes in this list include all Sequim homes sold in September of 2011 above the price of $200,000.)

Notice the percentages.  The difference between the actual sales price and the county assessment is shown in the fourth column, and the difference from home to home varies from 1% to 43%.  Some are off by 18%, others by 22%, 34% 29% and so on.  There is no consistency from home to home, but as might be expected with statistics, when you put them all together, the average comes out to only a 1% difference.  But averages are not what sellers put in their bank accounts.  Statistical averages mean very little to an individual buyer or seller.

I recommend taking a look at the assessed tax value before making an offer, but the number is just more information.  It is not definitive, and it is not necessarily the true FMV.

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