Saturday, June 10, 2017

Property is in fact more valuable in Lacey. Go figure.

Ken has a very Ken-esque post about how he's totally okay with moving the county courthouse, but on as long as it lands in Lacey. Or, in fact, move the entire county seat.

Olympia is old hat at retaining titles like county seat, or say, state capital, so I'm not worried.

But, also with his post, he makes this bold statement: "Land is cheaper in Lacey." Well, okay then, I can take a look at that.

First, let's think about why he might say that. Sure, Olympia is a much older city with nice(r) neighborhoods and some pretty great shoreline properties. But, when you get up into the Hawks Prairie north end of things for Lacey, the neighborhoods tend to get much nicer and much newer.

So, maybe its a bit of Lacey "aw-shucks, look at us, we're so cheap?"

I don't know, but either way, the numbers don't seem to stand up his point. First, looking at recent home sales from Trulia data, there isn't a very big difference between sales of house in Olympia and in Lacey.

Even when I clear away all the other data in the original Trulia map, the main three zip codes in central Thurston County are pretty much the same. Maybe Olympia is a bit higher, but since 98501 isn't just Olympia, it's hard to tell.

Also, this is home sales, which may not be a good guide for the type of land that a courthouse could be built on.

So, I tried to find a way to figure out total land value of each city. Good thing we have a county official whose job that is.

Before you give me the lecture about "assessed value not being actual market value," find a way to figure out an actual market value city-wide. Also, even if assessed =/= actual, it is still likely a good estimate when you're comparing values between two cities.

So, here you go:


Assessed valueAcreageAssessed value per acre

Olympia as a city is more valuable, but only because it is larger. When you get down the actual value of the land by acres, Lacey is slightly more valuable. And, on a city-wide basis, who knows why? I don't.

Maybe property with newer buildings are more valuable? 


Steve S. said...

Emmett, back when state government went through its last building boom in the late-80s, a committee decided to put the Department of Ecology's headquarters in Lacey and the L&I headquarters in Tumwater. My recollection is that the primary reason for doing so was lower cost of land than in downtown Olympia. However, that was back when Lacey and Tumwater had a lot more buildable land than they do now.

South Puget Sound Community College set up its first Lacey campus in Hawks Prairie. Note how they subsequently moved to "downtown" Lacey because the campus could benefit from all of the amenities of an urban core. I imagine that costed more -- perhaps much more -- than if they had stuck to an outlying location.

If cost is going to be the overarching factor, how about relocating the county seat to somewhere in the south county?

BTW, your robot check is a pain.

Anonymous said...

Because ASSESSED values are set as of Jan 1 and are published, on time, on June 1, in an up market the most recent ASSESSED value will not reflect growth in market values after Jan 1. As a result, the most recent ASSESSED value if referenced in May, will reflect the market value 15 months ago. The assessed value is the tool used to distribute tax obligations based upon value.
Setting aside the compelling county seat issue,the cost of enough land for a courthouse complex is not purely related to the cost of land. When blocks of land are scarce, the remaining land is often encumbered by existing buildings, pollution, wetlands, streams and buffers. If you believe like I do that the complex should be down town and close to transit these issues drive cost substantially.
Steven J. Drew County Assessor