Ramsey County property values have "remained resilient" despite a year of pandemic lockdowns and civil unrest, according to a new assessor's report — an early signal that homeowners may see heftier property tax bills in 2022.
Home sales in the county were more tepid than usual at the start of the pandemic but, as in the rest of metro, they gained strength through the end of 2020. The median home value in Ramsey County has risen from $245,600 in 2020 to $254,200 this year.
The total assessed estimated market value of all Ramsey County properties for 2021 is $62.2 billion — the largest in history — up from last year's $60.2 billion. That includes residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural land.
New residential property values, calculated using sales data, were mailed out to property owners in March and used to levy property taxes due in 2022.
In St. Paul, which makes up the bulk of Ramsey County, the median home value is $227,000, compared to $278,700 in suburban communities. All of St. Paul's neighborhoods saw an increase in median residential property values, with the most dramatic increases concentrated in two neighborhoods on the capital city's East Side.
Values rose 14.3% in Dayton's Bluff and 9% in Payne-Phalen — though the median property values in those neighborhoods remain some of the lowest in the county at less than $200,000.
"The good news is they are gaining equity in their homes," said Ramsey County Assessor Luis Rosario. "The bad news is ... these marginalized communities are seeing their values go up the most."
Rosario said property values in those areas plummeted during the Great Recession and values still are recovering.
Chuck Hanna, Dayton's Bluff Community Council board member, said although no one enjoys the tax hikes that can accompany rising property values, it's nice to see the neighborhood rebounding.
"Some stability has finally come to Dayton's Bluff. It's kind of long overdue," Hanna said. "People are moving in and becoming established and they are spending some time and money on their properties."
Hanna said some of his fellow board members worry about gentrification, but he feels residents "who are sticking it out are finally seeing their values go up."
In suburban Ramsey County, tiny Gem Lake, with a population of about 500, saw the biggest jump in median home value at 10.3%, followed by Mounds View at 7.5 %.
Three suburbs — St. Anthony, Falcon Heights and Arden Hills — saw declines.
"Those are all really small communities," Rosario said. "We don't have a lot of sales data."
Countywide, the number of foreclosure sales plummeted from 265 in 2019 to 94 in 2020, due to the pandemic-related moratorium on foreclosures.
Jennifer Kovacich, communications director for the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors, said she hasn't reviewed the new assessor's report, but their market data paints a similar picture: increasing demand, especially for homes under $500,000, and diminished supply, which has resulted in rising prices.
"It's one of those situations where Realtors are busy. Buyers need to be ready to make an offer quickly," Kovacich said. "Buyers need to know they'll likely be making a few offers before they find the homes of their dreams."