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Hot property

Did the assessed value of your property go up this year? Blame property sales in your neighborhood, lake or township.

Values are up in Detroit Lakes, as well as all the big townships in southwestern Becker -- Lake Eunice, Lake View, Cormorant, Detroit, Burlington and Erie.

And the value hike includes a number of townships on the eastern side of the county, like Forest, Savannah, Osage and Green Valley.

Property values tend to be assessed in groups, and if you live in a hot neighborhood -- like a roughly five-block radius around the community center in Detroit Lakes -- your home value likely went up more steeply than other neighborhoods. The average home there sold for $74,000, an increase of 18 percent.

Affordable homes are rising in value faster. In the neighborhood roughly between St. Mary's hospital and Burger King, the average home price is now $72,000, a 20 percent hike in one year.

By comparison, homes on North Shore Drive (average value $217,000) went up 14 percent, while homes on South Shore Drive (average value $221,000) increased 9 percent.

Likewise, if you own a business on Highway 10 Central in Detroit Lakes, you likely saw a big valuation jump this year. Values went up 22 percent there, compared to 9 percent for property on Highway 10 West and 5 percent on Highway 10 East.

Here's how other commercial neighborhoods in Detroit Lakes fared: Values on Highway 59 were up 12.2 percent; Highway 34 up 11.4 percent; Washington Avenue Central up 19 percent; Washington Avenue South up 10.1 percent; Washington Avenue North up 5.8 percent; the industrial park up 9.9 percent; and Lake/Summit Avenue businesses up 10.4 percent.

In all, the estimated market value of all property in Detroit Lakes took a $100 million jump this year -- from $586.4 million last year to $686.3 million, according to information from the Becker County Assessor's Office.

Of that, $17.5 million was due to new construction. The rest is due to rising values, based on sales of homes and businesses.

"Our adjusted median ratios must be between 90 and 105 percent (of sales of comparable property)," said County Assessor Steve Skoog. "Our values are closer, but they're still lagging behind sales this year."

One area that is seeing big valuation increases is timberland, which averaged about $1,000 an acre last year and now is valued at $1,400 to $1,500 an acre, Skoog said. Timber prices are high, but that doesn't seem to be driving the value, since the land is often logged off prior to being sold. The value appears to be in hunting sites, he said.

Another strong growth area is building sites. Lots that went for $10,000 two or three years ago are selling for $20,000 to $30,000 now, Skoog said.

Countywide, structure values increased about 8 percent, simply because values increased that much, he said.

Some owners of smaller or older homes in Detroit Lakes may have been surprised by big valuation hikes this year because of the real estate market.

"I think that's what it is," Skoog said. "The floor of the market has moved up that quick." A bare bones livable house is worth a certain amount, and that amount has jumped this year.

Some tidbits from an interview with the assessor:

There is a lot of construction happening in Becker County -- much of it starting in the Detroit Lakes area and running all the way to the western border. But there is also a construction boom in eastern Becker -- in the townships of Osage, Green Valley, and Two Inlets, for example, Skoog said.

n There was $3.2 million in new construction for taxes payable this year in Osage Township, on top of $3.4 million last year. The total estimated market value there jumped from $86.4 million to $105.6 million this year.

n In Forest Township, there was about $1 million in new construction, up from about $500,000 the year before. The estimated market value there jumped from $62.7 million to $78.3 million this year.

The big townships are also showing strong growth,

n Lake Eunice Township, for example, saw $9.3 million in new construction for taxes payable this year, compared to $6.8 million last year. Estimated market value there went from $269 million to $317 million.

n Detroit Township saw $8.3 million in new construction, compared to $6.2 million the year before. Estimated market value there increased by $51 million, to $285 million.

In northwest Becker County, the farming townships of Atlanta, Walworth, Spring Creek and Riceville have valuation that is relatively flat.

n Walworth, for example, had just $2,800 in new construction, the lowest of any township or municipality. Estimated market value there went from $29.2 million to $29.9 million.

In general, townships with lakes still led the way in valuation growth: Height of Land, Holmesville, Toad Lake and Round Lake townships saw good growth.

n Holmesville, for example, had nearly $2 million in new construction, nearly double the previous year, and saw its estimated market value grow from $60 million to $75 million.

The southern tier of townships including Runeberg, Evergreen and Spruce Grove saw moderate growth.

n Evergreen saw $325,000 in new construction and its estimated market value went from $26 million to $32 million.

Farming and reservation townships like Pine Point, Carsonville, Callaway and White Earth saw slower growth.

n Pine Point had about $200,000 in new construction and its estimated market value rose from $15 million to $18 million.

Including Detroit Lakes, Becker County saw a total increase in its estimated market value of about $600 million. The county went from $3.26 billion last year to $3.83 billion this year. That includes $80.5 million in new construction.

Skoog said higher valuations don't necessarily translate into higher property taxes: That mostly depends on how much local government officials raise or lower their tax levies.