Monday, May 5, 2008

Montana's Big Sky Is Falling

In Big Sky country, the sky is falling, if only in pieces. With some homeowners already pocketing a $400 property tax rebate, Montana is poised to grant still more property tax reductions -- and maybe some increases.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

Deadline Newsroom - Montana's big sky is falling, if only in pieces, and those chunks are landing hard on the state's property tax coffers.

Last year, Montana accepted 240,000 applications from homeowners seeking a state-sponsored, flat, $400-per-home property tax rebate, due to soft and slipping home values.

Montana's Revenue Department assesses property taxes based, in part, on home values.

Now, the Treasure State is about to embark upon its regularly-scheduled statewide property reappraisal to bring more home values on par with market conditions.

The event could net some property owners a further reduction in their property taxes and further drain the state's property tax pot.

But don't count on a windfall just yet. Every homeowner may not get a property tax break. Some could even see an increase in property taxes.

Montana has suffered an increase in foreclosures and a decrease in sales, but home prices have been rising. reported that Montana's foreclosures increased 40 percent in the past year, but there's only about one foreclosure per 1,000 households. Compare that to Nevada's 1 foreclosure for every 50 households. Big difference.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says Montana's homes sales dropped more than 14 percent last year, but the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise (OFHEO) says home prices rose nearly 7 percent during the same period.

Overall, the state's rate of home price appreciation is the fourth fastest in the nation, but home price increases are not uniform.

Real estate agents who report to RealtyTimes Market Conditions for the capital city of Helena say prices were trending down in March. To the contrary, realty market reporters from Billings and Missoula said prices were flat or trending up, slightly.

© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist of 30 years, is publisher and executive editor of San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service, and the new Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's new backshop. In both cases, it's where all the news really hits home.

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