Construction, Law, and Real Estate

Kent property values reach another record high

Coming out of the recession, county has seen an increase each year since 2012.

April 19, 2019
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Kent County’s equalized property values have increased from last year’s all-time high.

The state equalization value for a combined total of real and personal property is $29.5 billion, an increase of $2.4 billion, or 8.74%. The values are derived from assessments between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2018.

That total number includes $27.85 billion in real equalized value — building structures themselves — and $1.65 billion in personal equalized value — furnishings inside the commercial, industrial and utility buildings.

About 25% of the increase is due to new buildings in the county, and the other 75% is attributed to market value increases, according to Matt Woolford, Kent County equalization director.

He said there are roughly a quarter-million properties in the county.

“This does represent the reality of what it’s like to be here in West Michigan,” Woolford said. “We have a stable and very good economy, and that’s reflected in the real estate transactions.”

The latest value marks the seventh year of increases following a five-year period, 2008-12, that saw significant value decreases, including the low point of just below $21 billion in 2012. The county’s equalized value was $24.3 billion in 2007.

“Our growth is an indication of our economy, our communities and our quality of life,” Woolford said. “And all of these things really work together to be a tremendous source of attraction.”

Woolford said his intergovernmental work with neighboring counties has solidified his understanding that Kent County is the “center of gravity” in West Michigan.

“Like any force of gravity, the bigger it gets, the stronger its pull,” Woolford said.

He added that low housing inventory has pushed development into rural areas outside the more populated Grand Rapids city limits, such as the south Beltline corridor, Gaines Township, Caledonia, Byron Center and Cedar Springs.

He said the lack of supply of starter and medium homes is driving up values in areas where values typically have lagged, comparatively.

“Grand Rapids is starting to grapple with large city issues, and affordable housing is one of those,” he said.

The high demand is even reaching northern Kent County, despite ongoing concerns regarding PFAS contamination of the area’s groundwater.

The home filter systems seem to be effective, he said, so such remedies are being factored into those prices. As long as there’s a robust demand for housing, he said he thinks buyers are considering these properties on a case-by-case basis.

“There's not enough of a negative perception to negate the overall growth factors that are coming into play,” he said.

That’s especially because the assessment is a lagging indicator, and Woolford said he expects an increased value next year, too, despite economic experts’ predictions of an upcoming recession.

“Even though I think there'll be some economic headwinds, I believe that we've got enough of a pent-up residential demand that we’ll maintain equilibrium for the next one to two years, at least.”

Real and personal property values since 1991:

1991 – $8,523,945,456

1992 – $8,800,472,010

1993 – $9,620,813,847

1994 – $10,045,491,779

1995 – $10,600,047,400

1996 – $11,512,696,884

1997 – $12,422,298,191

1998 – $13,647,702,170

1999 – $14,874,132,432

2000 – $15,912,899,100

2001 – $17,212,047,916

2002 – $18,647,720,962

2003 – $19,919,370,780

2004 – $20,930,699,290

2005 – $22,119,875,769

2006 – $23,346,848,319

2007 – $24,338,570,446

2008 – $24,296,248,175

2009 – $23,810,524,071

2010 – $22,577,744,317

2011 – $21,735,166,525

2012 – $20,988,856,355

2013 – $20,992,849,006

2014 – $21,611,336,604

2015 – $23,036,449,123

2016 – $24,129,416,055

2017 – $25,917,411,675

2018 – $27,131,963,621

2019 – $29,502,080,572

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