Hundreds of owners appeal assessments

Of the more than 700 property owners who questioned the value the county assigned to their home, land or business in 2015, 18 percent successfully argued to have that value lowered.

Another 78 percent saw no change to the value of their property, often because the county was able to argue that its initial assessment was accurate, and the other 4 percent is still waiting for review by an appeals board.

The county has just begun reviewing appeals filed in 2016. More than 800 property owners questioned the value given to their property. Those values are a part of what the county uses to determine how much property taxes the owner will pay this year. An appeal for a lower value could lead to a lower property tax bill.

Every year, the county sends letters in the fall to property owners whose property values changed. Few property values stay the same each year. For this year’s tax bills, about half of values increased, while the other half dropped, Johnson County Assessor Mark Alexander said.

One key reason for changes was due to the increased number of homes being sold, which means there is a higher chance property values for homes will change, since the county has more data to work with.

If property owners disagree with the value the county assigned, they can appeal within 45 days of receiving notice of the new value. If they miss that deadline, owners can still appeal, but any changes would not be counted for the next property tax bill.

In 2015, 749 people appealed their property’s value and 18 percent were able to get it lowered after a review. About 100 more people appealed in 2016. The process of reviewing those claims is underway, and more than half are still waiting for a decision.

Once a property owner has filed an appeal, one of the county’s four certified appraisers will review the case and collect additional information from the property owner, Alexander said.

The county will then discuss with the owner why any changes were made, and the owner can bring up any information the county may not be aware of. If the appraiser and property owner don’t reach an agreement on what the assessment should be, the property owner can then go to the county appeals board for a hearing.

One reason homeowners have seen changes in their values recently is due to sales of similar properties. If similar homes are selling for higher prices, the county will increase the assessed value of the other nearby homes, Alexander said.

Other reasons for an higher assessment would be if a remodel or addition was done.

One item appraisers will look at during an appeal is the age of the house and how it has been maintained. For older homes, a roof in need of replacement or an old heating and air conditioning system could lower its value, he said.

If a home is significantly better or worse than the rest of the homes around it, the assessment by the county might not match what the property would actually sell for, he said.

While a homeowner may be seeking a lower property value, the value could increase if the appraiser were to discover details about the property, such as a shed or detached garage that wasn’t recorded by the county.

In some cases, requests have been made to increase a property’s value.

Because assessment data is available online, owners looking to sell a property sometimes want to make sure their assessment is up-to-date, Alexander sad.

Investors who purchase homes from bankruptcy or foreclosure that they intend to repair and sell for a profit will also often request an updated assessment so that the home value listed online matches the additional work they put into the house, he said.

At a glance

The county assigns a value to each home, land or business to determine what share of property taxes the owner will pay. Those who disagree with the assessment can appeal. Here is a look at how many have appealed:

Appeal type;Number of appeals 2015;Number of appeals 2016

Total appeals filed;749;824

Appeals under review;0;424

Resulted in a lower assessment;131;29

To be reviewed by county board;27;48

SOURCE: Johnson County assessor’s office

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Jacob Tellers is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jtellers@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2702.