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By DAMON LAWRENCE
The phones have been ringing a lot lately at Joyce Fitzgerald’s Realty Executives’ office on Gallaher Road, Kingston.
Fitzgerald said the increase is not because more people are looking to buy a home. She attributes it to the county’s reappraisal.
Property owners have been calling, wanting to know if their property is really worth as much as the property assessor’s office says it is.
“I’ve been in the business 20 years,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve had questions before, but not to this extent.”
The reappraisal notices that were mailed out in May have set off a firestorm of anger, confusion and concern among some property owners.
“When they’re expecting some relief and see higher appraisals, it’s very unsettling,” Fitzgerald said. “It looks like a tax grab.”
Fitzgerald said she worries how higher appraisals will impact property owners who are already struggling to make ends meet.
“I can pay my taxes, but there are a lot of people who are going to have trouble paying theirs,” she said.
Reappraisals are required by state law.
Roane County is on a five-year reappraisal cycle.
Property Assessor Teresa Kirkham said her office used 2009 sales to come up with the property values.
The increases some property owners experienced suggest the housing market was booming in 2009.
Fitzgerald said that’s not how she remembers it.
“If it wasn’t for foreclosures, we would have starved,” she said.
Things were so bad last year, she added, that a $60,000 sale brought happiness.
Fitzgerald said Realty Executives has been pulling comparable sales to try and help the people who call and want to know if their new appraised value is out of line.
“I’m sure other Realtors are getting calls like we are,” she said.
Fitzgerald said she doesn’t mind helping the people, but believes the responsibility should be on the property assessor’s office, not local real estate agents.
“It’s hard for us to justify one way or another because we don’t know what kind of formula was used for the reappraisal,” Fitzgerald said.