ELYRIA — Property values have increased by an average of more than 3 percent across Lorain County, according to figures released Friday by county Auditor Craig Snodgrass.
The office analyzed nearly 7,000 home sales in 578 neighborhoods in cities, townships and villages that took place between 2012 and 2014. Foreclosures and sheriff’s sales were excluded from the analysis and no changes for agricultural, commercial or industrial properties were recommended.
Snodgrass, who worked with chief appraiser Fred Westbrook on the update, said not all cities’, townships’ or villages’ property values change equally because values in some neighborhoods increased, while others either saw no change or decreased.
In 2012, property values in many cities, townships and villages were lower than auditor’s office valuations ,but by 2013 and 2014 values started rising, a trend which continues into 2015.
Overall Snodgrass said the numbers fall in line with a state-mandated 3 percent change for Lorain County and the upward trend is a positive sign for the area.
“Generally the county is doing well,” he said. “We’re finally headed in the right direction.”
Snodgrass said three-year updates don’t include new construction, demolitions or Board of Revisions decisions, which also can affect property values in particular areas.
He also said just because property values may go up doesn’t mean taxes necessarily will.
Six of the county’s nine cities saw positive net property value changes ranging from 0.1 percent to 7.2 percent.
Avon, Avon Lake and North Ridgeville, which have been the fastest growing cities in Lorain County according to recent census figures, saw net value increases of 7.2, 7 and 5 percent, respectively.
Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen said it’s good to see the real estate market starting to turn around, because even homes in Avon lost value during the recession. Jensen attributes property value increases in Avon to the availability of newer homes in convenient locations.
“I think we’ve probably recovered what we’ve lost and now everyone is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Jensen said. “The residents, city and county are all doing better.”
In Elyria, property values increased in some neighborhoods while others remained the same or experienced negative value changes. Overall, Elyria saw a net value drop of 0.5 percent.
Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda said her city is comprised of older homes, making it more difficult to keep values in line with cities like Avon, which have a multitude of new housing developments.
But she said the goal is to continue demolishing nuisance properties and improving streets, water lines and sewers in an effort to bring home values up.
“We’ve taken down 300 nuisance properties in the last 18 months and have 60 more scheduled,” Brinda said. “By removing those properties we will increase other values in the long run.”
Parts of southern Lorain experienced negative value changes while portions of the eastern and western ends of the city experienced an increase. Mayor Chase Ritenauer said Lorain, which saw an overall value increase of 0.1 percent, faces the same challenges as Elyria.
He also said continuing to focus on urban blight and projects that improve streets and infrastructure will ultimately lead to an improved Lorain with better property values. Ritenauer said even a slight uptick in property values is a sign the city is on the right track.
“We’re trying to focus on things that improve neighborhoods while enforcing the property maintenance code,” he said. “We were so far behind and we’re trying to catch up because these are the type of things that are going to bring our neighborhoods back.”
Oberlin property values also increased with sales indicating positive changes of 5 percent or more and net value changes of 6 percent.
Twelve of the 18 townships in Lorain County experienced positive net property value changes ranging from 2 percent to 10 percent.
Pittsfield Township saw the largest net value increase at 10 percent. Trustee Mark McConnell said although he was unaware Pittsfield’s property values had increased, he wasn’t surprised.
“We have very well-kept neighborhoods and people take great pride in their properties,” McConnell said. “I would say better selling prices are probably a result of pride in the community and a better economic environment.”
Amherst, Columbia, Grafton, Henrietta, Huntington, LaGrange, Penfield, Sheffield and Wellington also saw net property value changes of 3.4 to 7 percent.
Elyria and NewRussiaTownships saw value decreases of 3.3 and 2.2, respectively, while Brownhelm, Camden, Carlisle and Rochester townships saw no value changes.
Two of the county’s seven villages experienced net property value increases while one saw a decrease and four saw no change.
LaGrange and Grafton saw 2.7 and 4 percent increases respectively, while Kipton, Rochester, Sheffield and Wellington experienced no change.
Grafton Mayor Megan Flanigan said the village has had many positive changes from new businesses to improved parks systems. She said an uptick in home values also might be attributed to more people looking to move to a rural area that is still close to all the amenities of larger cities.
“Grafton is in such a perfect location because it’s out of the way from all the busyness, but still close to I-480 to jump on to go to Cleveland,” Flanigan said. “It’s really an ideal place to want to live.”
South Amherst saw a net value drop of 7.7 percent and Mayor Barbara Becker, who said she was unaware of the update, declined to comment on what might be causing a drop in home values.
The auditor’s office performed its own three-year update this year which Snodgrass said saved about $200,000 the office would have spent contracting the job to a private firm.
The office does a reappraisal every six years, the last of which was performed in 2012, and every three years it must do a triennial update. Both county and state auditor’s offices look at transfer sales during the years examined to reach conclusions.
To reach its recent figures the auditor’s office used neighborhoods that had 10 home sales or more, and if a neighborhood had fewer than 10 sales values weren’t touched.