EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 11, 2012

Property values down, taxes up in Lawrence

LAWRENCE — Home values in Lawrence dropped almost across the board last year, led by a 5.1 percent decline in the value of the average single-family home – to $167,771 — according to a recent report by the city’s Board of Assessors.

The average condominium unit lost 2.2 percent of its value, while the value of three-family homes nudged downward about half a percentage point, according to the report.

Among residential properties, only two-family homes increased in value, but barely, inching up about half a percentage point.

Industrial properties also absorbed a blow last year, losing 2.6 percent of their worth, the report said. The value of the average commercial property was largely unchanged.

In all, Lawrence real estate shed $22.6 million in value last year, dropping to a total of $2.7 billion, a decline of 1 percent. The figures are based on property sales.

Meanwhile, owners of the average one-family home in the city will pay $5.40 less in property taxes this year, even as the overall tax rate for all residential properties jumps 5.2 percent, from $14.29 to $15.03 per $1,000 of value, under a schedule the City Council recently approved.

Taxes on condos and two- and three-family homes will go up an average of between $34 and $137 this year, under the schedule.

The increases on residential properties are due in part to the higher tax rates, and also to a vote by the City Council to shift some of the city’s personal and property tax burden from commercial and industrial owners to homeowners.

Residential properties, which account for about three quarters of the city’s $2.7 billion in total personal and real property values, will pay 59 percent of the taxes the city will collect this year.

Commercial and industrial properties, which account for about a quarter of all city property, will pay 41 percent of the tax burden. Although the share of the tax burden for these properties will drop - the amount of the decline was not immediately available - the tax rate will increase, from $31.81 to $33.62 per thousand dollars of assessed value.

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