Total property values fall to 2004 level
The State Equalized Value of all real and personal property in the county fell again last year, marking the fifth straight year of a decline. The overall SEV fell from $21.7 billion in 2011 to $20.9 billion this year, a drop of 3.43 percent and one that reduced the value of all property in the county to the 2004 level.
In 2007, the year prior to the first slide in value, the countywide SEV was $24.3 billion. Since then, property values have fallen by $3.4 billion to match the 2004 SEV of $20.9 billion.
While this year's decrease was less than last year's 3.7 percent decline and far less than 2010's 5.18 percent freefall, 13 of the county's 30 municipalities had SEVs fall further than the county average. Eight of the nine cities dipped below that mark. Only East Grand Rapids escaped that distinction: Its values actually rose by one-third of a percent.
Property values in Walker fell by 3.5 percent; in Lowell by 3.58 percent; in Rockford by 3.72 percent; in Kentwood by 4.13 percent; in Grandville by 4.19 percent; in Grand Rapids by 4.79 percent; in Wyoming by 5.14 percent; and in Cedar Springs by 7.45 percent. Ada Township was the only municipality, other than East Grand Rapids, to record a gain in SEV; it rose by nearly three-quarters of a percent.
The SEV decline of 3.43 percent translates into a countywide monetary loss of roughly $800 million, which is similar to last year's tumble. Two years ago, value declined by $1.23 billion.
"I think the trends were somewhat what we were expecting," said Matt Woolford, county equalization director.
The taxable value fell by 2.28 percent, the third straight year it dipped countywide. It fell by 2.39 percent last year and by 3.76 percent in 2010. Ten municipalities surpassed the 2.28 percent average mark. The three highest were Wyoming with a decline of 4.49 percent; Plainfield Township at 4.86 percent; and Cedar Springs at 5.4 percent. The taxable value in Grand Rapids fell by just under 1 percent. Ada, Bowne, Grattan, Lowell and Tyrone townships and East Grand Rapids had slight gains in taxable value.
The declines hit the city of Cedar Springs the hardest; it recorded the largest drop in SEV and in taxable value countywide.
As for the property classifications, the countywide SEV rose for agricultural land by $4 million, or 1.45 percent, and for personal property by $55 million, or 3.01 percent. But the residential SEV dropped by $500 million, or 3.66 percent.
"I think we're seeing some stability in the residential market this year. The foreclosure process still has to make its way through the market," said Woolford. "When I say we're seeing some stability, that's a way of saying things are less bad."
The value for commercial property fell by $200 million, or 4.45 percent. Industrial property fell by $100 million, or 7.87 percent.
"Even though we may see some improvements in industrial and commercial, the results will be mixed," said Woolford. "I don't think we've seen the bottom for industrial and commercial yet."
Total real property, which consists of agricultural, commercial, industrial and residential properties, declined by about $800 million, or 4.03 percent.
Here is a comparison of the State Equalized Value of all property classifications for 2011 and 2012 and the percent change in value between those two years.
Source: Kent County Bureau of Equalization, April 2012