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More on Shock 'n Awe in Arlington County: Devil of the Detail

On New Year's Day, we cited a Washington Times story discussing the sharp rise (15/5%) in Maryland assessments as well as an internal memo of Arlington's County Manager, who appeared to predict about a 20% increase in residential real estate assessments. Today, we take a closer look at Arlington residential home sales using the November 2004 residential housing report of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (requires Adobe Reader for the actual report). According to the report, the average home has increased 18.52% from 2003 to 2004 -- going from an average of $512,799 to $607,764. The trend for condominiums and co-ops is even greater, increasing by 24.4%. The report also provides information on listings, contracts, and settlements by price ranges. For example, in the first 11 months of 2003, 114 properties priced between $750,000 and $999,999 went to settlement, but for the comparable period of 2004, the number doubles to 230. For homes priced above $1 million, the number increases from 36 to 97. Since real estate assessments mirror, except for timing differences, the price of home sales, Arlington property owners can expect generally shocking news when they receive their assessments later this month. Needless to say, the Arlington County Board could minimize the effect of the skyrocketing assessments by making major reductions in the real estate tax rate, which they are not likely to do since for them, growing government is more important than individual freedom and liberty.

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