386 W. Rio
Communities Blvd.

P.O. Box 8
Belen, NM 87002
(505) 864-6654
fax (505) 864-2826

link to home page link to About VIA link to About the Area link to Neighborhoods link to Maps link to Schools link to Parks link to Members Area
link to Newsletters link to FAQs link to Feedback link to Utilities link to Payments

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT
ASSESSMENTS COLLECTED BY
VALLEY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION, INC.

What is VIA? VIA is a non-profit New Mexico corporation organized as a property owner’s association for tens of thousands of residential lots created in Valencia County, New Mexico, in the early 1970’s by Horizon Corporation. VIA is completely independent of Horizon Corporation.

What gives VIA the right to collect assessments? VIA’s right to collect its assessments and enforce a lien against your property is based on an Indenture running with the title to the land. The Indenture was recorded in the Valencia County land records when your property was originally platted and before it was sold. The obligation is binding on all owners of the property, whether or not the current owner purchased directly from Horizon Corporation. You may receive a copy of the particular Indenture pertaining to your property by writing to VIA.

Am I a member of VIA? The property owners of many thousands of platted lots who are subject to an assessment are considered members of VIA. Membership is tied to the ability to levy and collect an assessment.

Can I withdraw as a member of VIA? VIA must maintain on an ownership role of all property owners within certain geographic areas. The legal title to the land contains an agreement, binding on all landowners, that makes the property owners subject to an assessment, members of VIA. A member is removed from the membership roles only when he or she no longer is subject to an assessment.

Why has VIA hired a lawyer to collect such a small debt? Many members find it somewhat harsh that VIA would engage a law firm to enforce a debt of such a small amount. VIA, however, believes it has a duty to its members who are paying their assessments to make a serious effort to get everyone to pay.

Do the assessments I pay benefit the original developer? VIA is a property owner’s association completely independent from the Horizon Corporation, the developer. VIA’s board of directors is composed of independent professionals, business leaders and VIA officers, who operate under conflict-of-interest policies that limit board members’ financial dealings with VIA, and who are not associated with Horizon Corporation. Horizon Corporation has no significant activity or presence in the area any more. Years ago, VIA changed its name from Horizon Communities Improvement Association, Inc., to Valley Improvement Association, Inc.

What does VIA do? VIA’s activities over the past twenty years have included participation in the extension of water and sewer utilities, maintenance and improvements of parks, streets and roads, covenant enforcement, environmental protection, subdivision development to attract private development capital, industrial recruitment and support, and the development of a university branch college and several public schools. These efforts are founded on the goal of promoting the interests of its members.

What has VIA done for my lot? VIA must budget and prioritize its expenditures. VIA serves tens of thousands of individual lots and its budget does not allow direct expenditures benefiting each lot equally. Such an approach would be wasteful. VIA concentrates its efforts and resources to maintain existing improvements and seed economic growth of in the area of its members lots.

What can I do to get VIA to update its ownership records? Under VIA’s corporate charter, filed with the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission, VIA cannot change its membership and owner lists without a deed or contract showing transfer and payment in full of all assessments due. If VIA’s ownership records are not correct, please forward to VIA a copy of the deed, contract or other legal document transferring ownership with a request that ownership records be changed. For guidance about how document changes of ownership in the records of Valencia County you should consult with legal counsel. Under New Mexico law transfers through inheritance may require a probate or other legal proceeding before they are properly documented, and you should consult legal counsel for details.

Why do notices continue to be sent to deceased members? Until VIA receives a deed, contract or other document transferring ownership, VIA cannot delete a property owner from its membership roles, even when informed of a death. To document the transfer of legal ownership from the estate of a deceased person to his or her successors may require a court proceeding and the services of legal counsel.

I don’t want my lot. What can I do? Some suggestions - Attempt to sell it on your own - Deed it to a family member - Deed it to a charitable group.

I already pay property taxes. Why do I pay twice? The VIA assessment is not a tax. VIA is a private non-profit corporation. VIA’s right to collect the VIA assessment is a private property right that was established with the property was first platted.

What is the value of my property and how can I sell it? VIA and its personnel are not licensed or qualified under New Mexico law to offer opinions about the value of real estate. You are urged to contract a real estate professional or appraiser of your choice and to investigate the value, if any, of your lot. VIA is aware of sales of lots that depending on location and circumstances range from under $100 to several thousand dollars. In many areas, there is little or no market for individual lots. The best and sure way to determine the value of ones property is to hire a professional real estate appraiser. Unfortunately, for many people, that is someone they may not afford. For people in that category, they may gather some good information by doing the research themselves. By going online, one can search for land/property sales within the area where their property is located. There are many real estate websites that can be considered. Do a search for real estate sales in Valencia County, Rio Del Oro, Canyon Del Rio, etc., depending where your property is located. You can also find land sales from your area on www.ebay.com and www.craigslist.org. All of these sources can give you a good idea of how much other owners are asking for their property(s), not necessarily how much they are worth, though. If you have an EBay account, you can log in and view the completed listings. These will show how much an item, in our case a property, has sold for or did not sell for.

To sell your property, we recommend that you work with a local realtor. However, for lots in some areas, it can be difficult to find brokers interested in accepting listings. You can also try to sell your property online on websites like eBay or Craigslist, but be very cautious when you do any business online. If it's too good to be true, then it's most likely not. Make sure that you do some research on the company or entity you decide to work with in order to determine whether or not they are reputable. One common scheme that has been circulating the online world is that of false checks. In many cases, the victim will post something for sale online. Let's say they'll post it for $500. They then get a response from an interested party who is willing to purchase the item. The purchaser then mails a check for a larger amount, say $1,000. He/she then claims it was his/her mistake and then instructs the seller to mail the difference back. In many cases, by the time the bank determines that the check is invalid, the seller has mailed back the difference of $500. As a result, the seller is now indebted $500 to the bank.

Another option that property owners can consider, as they seek alternatives to sell their property, is contacting other land owners. The value of your property can be worth more to the owner of the property adjacent to yours than it would to someone else. The purchase of your property by an adjacent owner will increase the acreage of their land, and therefore, may be worth more to that owner. You can find out who owns any lots adjacent to yours by visiting the Valencia County Website. Click on the GIS Mapping link, and then click on the Parcel Data Viewer link on the right hand side. This link will take you to an interactive map of the entire county. You have the option of searching parcels based on the owner last name, parcel UPC, owner number, or address. If you select the Name button, enter your last name. You will then see a list of owners with the same last name as yours. Find your name on the list and right-click on it. On the right-click menu select Zoom to. This will zoom the view to your parcel and highlight your parcel in blue. You can now use the identify button (i) to select any parcel. After selecting a parcel with the identify button, a table with the owner's and parcels information will display. This can help you determine who owns lots around your property and how to contact them. The table that comes up with the identify tool has several fields. Among these fields, there are "FullVal" and "LandVal". The "FullVal" field gives a figure that pertains to the land's value plus improvements. The "LandVal" field simply gives the assessed value that the assessor's office has attributed to your land. Those figures do not necessarily represent the value of your property. They are simply used as a baseline. Nevertheless, they may be some figures that you should consider as you seek a value to your property.

If I refuse to pay the assessments, what will happen? VIA has the option to foreclose the property owner’s interest in the lots in a New Mexico legal proceeding. VIA will not make any attempt in court to collect back assessments, costs and attorney fees from owners or former owners personally unless the lot owner wants to redeem the property from the foreclosure proceeding and clear up all charges, in which case payment of back assessments, costs and attorney fees may be required.


 
 

©2005 Valley Improvement Association