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Lakewood Home Values Drop 3.6 Percent Since 2009

City officials were expecting the worst after disgraced former county auditor corrupted the appraisal process.

Home values in Lakewood have fallen 3.6 percent since 2009. 

That’s according to a preliminary report issued to cities across Cuyahoga County.

And the drop appears to be a countywide trend.

According to the Plain Dealer, the report is the result of a state-mandated appraisal — the first “since Frank Russo corrupted the process as auditor.” 

Dru Siley, Lakewood’s director of building and housing, said that despite the decline, he was pleased with the preliminary report.

“We were bracing for something worse — something more like 10 percent,” he said. “So this is great news.”

He said that one of the positive indicators is the quality of the city’s housing stock.

“I think what you’re seeing from the housing survey is that 86 percent — and rising — of our housing stock is in good shape. The effort we need to be making now is that we keep it strong.”

The Plain Dealer reported that “problems with the county's reappraisals go back 12 years to when Russo served as county auditor and oversaw the work.” 

Russo faces a lengthy prison term after he awarded $21 million in commercial appraisal work in exchange for more than $1 million in bribes.

Compared with some of the other cities in the county — with an overall average 9 percent decline — Lakewood is holding its own. 

“We’re a safe community, with good schools and a stable middle class in an interesting commercial base,” said Lakewood Law Director Kevin Butler. “In this housing market, in the midst of a housing crisis, that percentage drop is a good sign, not a bad one.”

He added that there’s always room for improvement. 

“None of us is resting on our laurels,” Butler said.

The state will still review the county's calculations this month, according to the Plain Dealer, and then the county can mail tentative values.

Homeowners can dispute their tentative values by phone, mail, email, or by attending meetings with county officials.

The drop in home values also affects how much money the can collect in property taxes.

“Based upon my calculations, Lakewood City Schools will lose approximately $329,400 in annual tax revenue from inside millage and May 2010 voted millage losses as a result of this change,” said the school district treasurer Rick Berdine, noting the comparison in his recent five-year forecast. 

“I do not know what plans will be made to offset this loss as the information is obviously very current and not fully expected based upon other recent information that we had learned.”

Brandon Scullion June 23, 2012 at 01:16 PM
One of the reasons I'm glad I bought a foreclosed property.
Theresa Ferline-Carr June 25, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Have property taxes dropped accordingly?
Evan Hammersmith June 25, 2012 at 04:52 PM
according to the property tax assessment released today, my taxes are going up! The 3.6% decrease apparently doesnt apply to all of Lakewood...
Judy Towner July 19, 2012 at 05:21 PM
2 bedrooms, one bath, 5 total rooms = 960ft of living space and my taxes are going up AGAIN. I don't think I could sell my home for the appraised amount. I'd be laughed out of the real estate office.

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