Owners of real property in Ellis County are getting their 2019 valuation notices in the mail this week.

Those with farm ground will see the values likely increased, while home values varied, with some up, some down and some the same, according to Ellis County Appraiser Lisa Ree.

“There were pockets of Hays that did see an increase in home values, and pockets that stayed the same, and pockets that decreased,” said Ree. “So it’s kind of hard to say overall.”

All told, real estate appraised value for all taxable properties in the county is up so far about $32 million for 2019, totaling $2.169 billion, Ree said.

Taxable property appraised values had decreased significantly from 2017 to 2018, Ree said, citing differences in the local market. The 2019 value is now back slightly above 2017’s $2.15 billion.

Property taxes are the largest source of revenue for the county, which is facing a strained budget

Total real estate assessed valuation was $314.8 million, she said, up a bit from 2018’s $307.9 million.

Ree presented the valuation numbers Monday evening to the Ellis County Commission during their regular meeting in the Ellis County Administrative Center, 718 Main St.

The Appraiser’s office sent out 15,627 notices on April 1, each one for a parcel of real property. Owners can appeal their appraisal starting next week, Ree said.

“Residential properties make up about 65 percent of our parcel count, and 62 percent of the assessed valuation,” Ree said. “So a big chunk.”

Appraised value for homes and farmsteads or non-ag buildings for 2019 is $1.698 billion.

“Our real estate market started decreasing in 2016 and that’s evident with our ’17 to ’18 values,” Ree told the commissioners. “It took us a little while to catch up with the market.”

The average sale price of homes in the county in 2018 was about $165,000, she said. In 2017 it was higher, almost $175,000.

Agricultural properties make up about 21 percent of the county’s parcels, but only about 8 percent of the assessed valuation.

Ag property appraised value for 2019 is $90 million.

Agricultural land across the state has seen a big increase in the last several years in values.

“Agricultural land is not valued on market value, like residential and commercial properties,” Ree told the commissioners. “The land is valued per use value and that value comes from the state of Kansas, the Property Valuation Department … There were two years where we saw a 20 percent increase in ag use values.”

“They are comparing us to northeast Kansas?” asked County Commissioner Dean Haselhorst.

“They are not,” Ree said. “The state is divided up into six districts. Our district, we are the furthest west county in our district, we’re considered central.”

“Lisa, It’s fair to say the ag use value of land is lower than the market value?” asked County Commissioner Dustin Roths.

“Definitely, definitely,” Ree said. “Somewhere in the range of 6 to 10 percent.”

Commercial properties are only about 7 percent of the county’s parcels, but make up about 29 percent of the assessed valuation.

Commercial property appraised value for 2019 is $366 million.

While taxable valuations have increased so far this year, that may change after the appeals process, she said.

“Most likely we’ll see a little decrease in valuations overall,” Ree said.

The appraiser’s job is to set a market value for the real estate, which basically means the price a buyer is willing to pay for a property, she said, and that the seller is willing to sell.

Property owners have 30 days to notify the County Appraiser of an appeal. Appraisals and valuations are finalized by May 20, and the values certified to the county on June 1.

Land owners also can appeal their ag land valuations, but those are determined by the state, based on whether the land is cultivated, dry cropland, irrigated cropland or grass land.

“They research landlord income and expenses, look at the county’s crop mix of wheat and corn, and they come up with an eight-year moving average,” Ree said. “It doesn’t necessarily reflect the market today. The thought was to even out the valuation of ag land instead of having big jumps every year.”

The County Appraiser doesn’t have much control on the actual price per acre for the different types of soils, but Ree said they can look at how much cropland and grassland an owner has, to make sure it’s correct.

“But our options for changing anything on an ag use value are pretty limited,” she said.