Preliminary reports from the Denton County Central Appraisal District show the county with a slight bump in tax value over last year.
Residential property seems to be at the heart of what is a slightly more than 2 percent increase over 2012 preliminary numbers.
“The residential market is getting a little bit better,” said Rudy Durham, Denton County deputy chief appraiser. “It does appear the houses above $250,000 to $400,000 is the market that is really moving at this time. Whereas six to eight years ago, the average house being built was $150,000 to $200,000. If you look and see what the market is doing out there, the Frisco area, parts of Flower Mound … a lot of the newer houses are being built.”
According to the county’s report, Flower Mound’s preliminary tax value is already a little more than $400 million greater than 2012’s final certified value.
Durham also noted officials were seeing an increase in a number of lots being developed.
“Existing lots on the ground are going fast,” Durham said. “We will probably see that [continue] in the next few years unless something unforeseen happens.”
When looking at the preliminary numbers, Little Elm saw the largest jump, a little more than 10 percent over the 2012 preliminary figures, to nearly $2 billion.
Early numbers for Denton point to a 2.37 percent increase.
“I think it’s pretty clear that appraised values are continuing a slow recovery from the previous four years and that’s a continuing trend in the entirety of the metroplex,” Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs said. “I know that, frankly, we’re looking toward a lot of potential development I believe will come down the path.”
Burroughs noted that officials are seeing relatively few new housing starts in Denton, but he believes that will change as it has been starting to change in other northern parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“We have several subdivisions that had previously got zoning but have not yet initiated their actual construction because of the recession,” he said. “I anticipate, at some point in the pretty near future, some of those developments will start back up.”
Burroughs said the completion of the Target distribution center, Safran Group moving Labinal Inc. from Corinth to Denton and some other business moves put positive pressure on the housing stock in Denton.
“And that’s what drives both appraised values and housing starts,” he said.
In recent talks with the oil and gas industry, Durham said appraisal officials are to expect a drop in total value from last year to the tune of 30 percent.
“With so many gas wells and gas reserves found over the last few years, it just hurts the price,” he said. “And there are not many new wells being built in Denton County at this time. There’s no incentive on the part of investors to spend a lot of money to get something out of the ground that they can’t make any money on right now.”
County Judge Mary Horn is waiting on July 25, when the final numbers are released, before she judges them and see how they factor into upcoming budget work.
“They’re exactly that, preliminary numbers,” she said. “We know full well that it is going to change, but it appears there is a trend for improvement. I will be anxious for the final numbers that will come out.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.