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HELENA - While sale prices for residential homes and land throughout much of Montana have stabilized in recent years, land values have softened in some of the most expensive parts of the state, a Revenue Department official said Tuesday.

Randy Wilkie, administrator of the Property Assessment Division administrator, outlined the values of some of Montana's priciest land in the state's latest reappraisal. He made the presentation to a joint Senate-House committee studying the issue.

The Legislature is trying to figure out ways to mitigate the impact of the reappraisal.

He said values of residential homes and land have stabilized to a growth rate of about 1 to 2 percent in most parts of the state. Sales have also declined in the past few years, he said.

Although property values remain high for lakeshore footage on Flathead and Whitefish Lake and for real estate developments in areas such as Gallatin and Madison counties, Wilkie said the values of this high-end real estate actually have dropped in recent years.

"This (reappraisal) cycle, it's clear it's land that's driving the increase," Wilkie said.

Here's Wilkie's assessment of land values for some of Montana's most expensive real estate:

nIron Horse subdivision, Whitefish. In this subdivision created in 1998 at the base of Big Mountain, Wilkie said property values shot up by 20 to 30 percent a year until peaking in 2002 at $200,000 to $900,000 per lot. Some lots topped $1 million because of their size and view. The new reappraisal will reflect the 2002 reappraisal ranges in values. Some have dropped to the $170,000 range, he said. "This will not be the case for each and every lot, but it will be quite typical," Wilkie said.

nWhitefish Lake frontage land. Lot prices there peaked in 2007 at $35,000-$40,000 per lineal foot of lakeshore frontage, but have dropped since, he said. The new reappraisal values lakeshore land at $18,000 to $19,000 per lineal foot as of the July 2008. That's up from the $3,500-$4,000 per lineal foot value in value in the last reappraisal in January 2002. "While the increases will still be significant (around 375 percent), it's representative of July 1, 2008, values and the current state of things," Wilke said.

nFlathead Lake frontage land. The values peaked in 2007 at $13,000 to $15,000 per lineal foot of lakeshore frontage. Wilkie said the reappraisal values of July 1, 2008, will reflect more 2006 values of about $8,000-$9,000 per lineal foot. In the 2002 reappraisal, lakeshore footage on Flathead Lake was valued at $1,800 to $2,000 a lineal foot. Even so, Wilkie said that will amount to a significant increase of about 350 percent in the new reappraisal.

nGallatin County (Big Sky area and Gallatin Canyon). Wilkie said values peaked in 2006 when land was valued at $400,000 to $850,000 per lot, depending on the size. The new 2008 reappraisal will show July 2008 values that reflect more of 2006 values of $250,000-$750,000 per lot. Their value in the previous reappraisal in 2002 ranged from $125,000-$500,000 per lot.

n Madison County (Big Sky area). Values here, which include the Yellowstone Club, peaked in 2006 when lots sold from $2.5 million for lots with a poor view to $5 million for lots with a good view. Wilkie said the July 2008 values used for the latest reappraisal will be in the range of $2.4 million per lot. By comparison, the values in the previous January 2002 reappraisal cycle were from $250,000 to $1 million per lot.

The Revenue Department has said that percentage increases in property values do not necessarily equate to property tax increase by the same percentage. That depends on what lawmakers come up with to lessen the impact.

There was no discussion about the values for the high-end properties.

Rep. Mike Jopek, D-Whitefish, asked Wilkie to provide similar information on "more typical neighborhoods" than these properties. Wilkie said he would do so at a later meeting.

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