By Mark Fischenich
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Other than agricultural land, there’s only one type of property in Blue Earth County that’s going to see a substantial hike in assessed valuations in 2014 — apartment buildings.
Apartment buildings will jump about 9 percent in value countywide for property taxes that are paid next year. In Mankato, the increase is 10 percent
County Assessor Michael Stalberger said the increase reflects higher sales prices for apartment buildings and the complete review of apartment properties done by the county’s appraisal staff this year — something they’re required to do for all properties once every five years.
“Since Mankato has nearly all the apartments, most of this increase was there,” Stalberger wrote in a summary of trends in property values. “Also, because it was part of a complete review, there is quite a bit of variety in the increases/decreases experienced by individual properties.”
For homeowners, values were largely stable after rising sharply in the 1990s and early 2000s and then declining after the housing bubble burst late in the last decade. Countywide, residential values rose just less than 1 percent. More than 75 percent of the increase came in Mankato, which dominates the county’s tax base other than in agricultural land, where home values rose just more than 1 percent on average.
Stable housing valuations were the norm in smaller towns near Mankato, but residential values fell between 5 and 8 percent in outlying towns such as Amboy, Good Thunder, Mapleton, Pemberton and Vernon Center, Stalberger said.
Commercial property values dropped 2 percent, which may reflect the fact that assessments for 2014 taxing are based on sales from Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012, — a period when the economy was still struggling to pick up steam following the recession.
“That might be the next segment where we’ll see some appreciation,” he said of valuations released a year from now. “I think it would be safe to say we’re recognizing more positive trends in the market.”
The housing market in Mankato is looking healthier this year, as well, so that’s another place where the lag between sales data and the official valuations will delay the impact of the market turnaround for another year, Stalberger said.
The big rise in apartment valuations is probably no surprise to people driving around the city. The market is strong enough that large new apartment complexes have been built, are under construction or are slated for construction this summer in all corners of the city — including along the Sibley Parkway, near Hiniker Pond, north of the Madison East Center along Victory Drive and on the east edge of town past the Hilltop Hy-Vee.