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Posted: August 31, 2013 7:27 p.m.

Most Newton property values down

With tax bills being sent out recently, about half of property owners saw changes in the value of their properties, according to Chief Tax Appraiser Tommy Knight.

While some property values increased, Knight said most of the changes were declines, which is consistent with the county’s overall land and building values declining from a total value of $1.76 billion to $1.6 billion in 2013.

On a good note, foreclosures are down and overall home sales are up.

"Looking at the first half of the year, the one fact we’re seeing is fewer foreclosures since 2009. The overall volume of residential sales has also picked up, but not just with single-family ownership. I would estimate one-third of residential sales are being purchased by investors," Knight said by email. "Not sure at this point if they’re being used as rental properties, holding to sell later as the market improves, bank holding companies, etc. Despite this upward trend in activity, it can have a negative effect on these areas if the properties purchased are to be used as rental property."

Local real-estate agents have reported that large investment firms have been buying up foreclosures en masse and turning them into rentals to purportedly boost investment portfolios, a trend that’s been reported in national media.

However, Knight does believe things are improving.

"Overall, I think we’ll see a slight upward movement in most areas based on the sales we’ve analyzed so far. However, we still have five months remaining in the year, which can change these scenarios from one extreme to another."

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