Real estate markets reflect price of success
Nothing is certain, they say, but death and taxes. And it seems certain that property taxes, driven by a rise in popularity of this area, will continue to rise.
Final appraised values showed Gillespie County properties again hitting the $7 billion mark, after recovering strongly from the national recession.
While Fredericksburg never suffered the debilitating real estate situations of other locales, sales activity did slow considerably. But the market for both residential and commercial property has heated up again considerably.
The average home value in the first half of 2018 has actually ticked back a bit, to $366,230, a 5.2-percent drop from the record 2017 average price of $386,098.
That’s higher than the median home price in Texas ($230,000), though that includes every property from Alvin to Austin.
Acreage prices also have risen steadily — realtor Mike Starks’ blog indicates prices have hit up to $45,000 per acre for small tracts (one to five acres).
Homestead exemptions and “over 65” exemptions continue to offset a large part of taxable value of the parcels.
Of course, much of this is driven by demand and market prices are outpacing traditional valuations by a large amount. It is a buyer’s bummer and a seller’s dream.
To be sure, no one likes paying more taxes. But if we were in a declining market rather than a rising one, the benefits of living in this vibrant place would be gone. Like other small towns around the state, this area could have boarded up downtown storefronts and a declining jobs base.
Rising values are certainly a doubleedged sword. They certainly benefit sellers, but can annoy those of us who plan on staying in our homes for life.
The Wall Street Journal noted that while home prices in the U.S. look fairly valued relative to incomes, housing is less affordable for many entry-level buyers.
That is the case here in Fredericksburg, where affordable housing is a big issue.
With success comes some challenges.
While some locals may gripe about additional traffic caused by visitors, let’s not forget that much of our property tax levy is offset by sales taxes.
We love this town, and so do many others. Let’s keep that in mind as we see appraisals rise. It’s the price of success. – K.E.C.
*The print version of this editorial contained an error in 2017 average sales figures. The correct number was $386,098.