Friday, November 11, 2011
Steamboat Springs The Routt County Assessor’s Office is poised as early as this week to bring its searchable database of properties into the 21st century with new software that, among other things, incorporates Google Maps.
“We aren’t ready to go live yet,” County Assessor Gary Peterson told a group of professionals during a training session Nov. 10. “We have a few bugs to work out in the software and we have 32,000 individual accounts and a lot of data to transfer. ... There’s so much to the software, it’s like you’re driving an entirely new kind of vehicle with a new touch and feel to it.”
When the new system is in place it will feature a window that displays the location of privately owned real estate throughout the county using the familiar modified pushpin employed by Google. It also will feature floor plan sketches of the property, when available, as well as mesh with the county GIS mapping.
Title companies, oil and gas land men, legal clerks, Realtors, developers, surveyors and other professionals are likely to embrace the new system. But why should the average resident of Routt County care?
Anyone who owns property in Routt County and is interested in how their buildings and land are faring in the three-year-old downturn in development and real estate sales will find valuable information in the database.
Want to know if you’re upside-down in your real estate? The new Eagle Web software from Tyler Technologies will make it easy to set up search parameters that allow the public to search for transactions within their subdivision or tax district in the past 10 months, for example, within a price range of their choosing.
Have the sales of distressed properties within your neighborhood resulted in comparables that will influence the new bank appraisal you need to refinance your mortgage? The database of 32,000 properties managed by Peterson and his staff contains information that will guide you in that regard.
This week could be a good time to play with the old and new software if the Eagle Web product is indeed live by the end of the week.
Although the old site is frozen, curious newcomers to the database can look up their own properties and play around with it.
“During the next two months, both the old and new websites will operate concurrently,” Peterson said in a written message to the public. “(I) encourage all users to try their property searches on the familiar old site and then again using the new site to learn and gain confidence in the new website.”
If you are new to the database, visit www.co.routt.co.us/assessor and click on the bar that reads “Assessor/treasurer property search.” From there you can choose to search by several methods, including by address, name or subdivision.
Searching by name or address doesn’t always produce the most consistent hits in the old system. But if your property pops up in that search, consider clicking on the link to tax information. It will allow you to see a 10-year history of the actual property taxes you’ve paid.
Depending upon the tax district you live in, you’re likely to observe that for most of the past decade, your taxes remained fairly consistent as the county commissioners and school boards adjusted the mill levies applied to the valuation of properties sufficiently to generate enough funds to support their budgets within statutory limits. More recent increases in taxes reflected in the property database may coincide with the times voters approved tax initiatives. They could include the county’s Purchase of Development Rights program, construction of the East Routt Library District’s new library in Steamboat, Horizons Specialized Services and the museum and heritage tax, for example.
If you succeed in locating your own property with a name search, take note of the filing within which it is located in your subdivision.
Next, start over and do a subdivision search, where you can browse through your neighbors’ property records.
Yes, it sounds nosy, but all of that data about past sales is public information and gives property owners a much stronger grasp on where they fit in the overall market picture.
Another way to build your up-to-date knowledge of the real estate market here is to log on to SteamboatHomefinder.com, where the newspaper staff updates recent transactions, with photographs when available, several times per week.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com