It's all about property values

rstenhammer@hiltonheadusa.comOctober 22, 2012 

There are many factors that local leaders must take into account when evaluating important issues that affect the community. The original planners of the Lowcountry did an amazing job protecting the environment. There have been numerous schools, roads and shopping centers built to improve the quality of life in the area. For a population like this, the amount and quality of arts and cultural offerings is truly outstanding. There is world class recreation, health care, a university and a technical college. Some say those who own property in Beaufort County have it all.

But an investment in property in Beaufort County likely is to be one of the largest and most important investments an individual will make in their lifetime. Homeowners are counting on the asset appreciation in their homes and villas for future monetary benefits. Growing owner equity in property is one of the keys to financial independence. Property values are one of the most important personal economic factors there is.

The Beaufort County Assessors' Office estimates that the market value for property that is taxed will fall from $47 billion dollars as of Dec. 31, 2007 to $34 billion dollars as of Dec. 31, 2012. That's a 27 percent decrease in value on property taxes. The property taxes are generated by many different components of which real estate makes up 93 percent of the tax revenue. The potential $13 billion dollar decrease in taxable property value is an estimated deficit that public officials are working hard to solve. The money generated by property tax goes toward county and town operations and funds the public school system. Certainly a large part of the decline in property values has been out of county control and related to the national recession that began in 2008.

But as with many economic situations, the market for real estate largely is based on local supply and demand. Since there is very little activity on the supply side of the real estate equation in the area, leaders should focus on stimulating the demand for real estate and eliminating those issues that prohibit the demand for real estate.

Property values are a core component of personal and regional success and economic well being. When Beaufort County mayors, council members, chambers, regime boards and community leaders decide on the future, there is one question that should be asked that is of paramount importance, "how does the issue we are facing positively affect property values?"

This article is the first in series that addresses actions to stimulate Lowcountry real estate demand and positively affect property values. Robert Stenhammer has been a resort executive for more than 15 years. He is the president of Hilton Head Accommodations.

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