My Real Estate Assessment Just Went Up!

My Real Estate Assessment Just Went Up!

In April, many homeowners received a letter from the assessor’s office that their home value had increased significantly. Naturally, this real estate assessment is used by the count when figuring property taxes. 

Here’s a question I received from a client:

I received a 2017 Real Estate Assessment Roll and the value of my land went from 35,900 in 2016 to 40,200 in 2017, and property went from 86,400 to 95,200. So the full value went from 122,300 to 135,400. The paperwork says I can petition to the board of review. Do you have any idea how I can do that so my taxes aren’t increased significantly?  Basically the price of my home/land is accessed $13,100 more than what it was assessed when I bought it.

Do you think I should dispute? Or is it counterintuitive? I would want my value to increase, so should I do nothing?

And, here’s my [somewhat cheeky] response:

That assessment is a real bummer isn’t it? You’re one of the lucky ones – most people’s assessment went up $20k.

Last week I had the assessor’s office on the phone for something unrelated to assessments increasing and she said she already had over 700 disputes filed.

Anyway, the county is going to argue that they increased assessments to be in line with market value. Which, for the most part they are. You bought a year ago for $130,000 and they’re assessing at $135,000.

A couple years ago (2010’ish?) they got so many complaints from homeowners that couldn’t sell their houses (it was a down market in the recession) that they sent a letter out LOWERING assessed values, to be more in line with market value. Which is a crock of sh^t. Here’s why:

The county needs X amount of money to run. If they don’t increase the assessed value – they’ll just increase the millage rate that property taxes are figured. Example:

Your house value / estimated taxes:

2010 – $121,300 – $2,488

2011 – $114,000 – $2,541 (interesting!)

2012 – $114,000 – $2,622 (Hmmm…see how this works?)

2013 – $113,800 – $2,711 (math is hard)

2014 – $113,800 – $2,810 (hurts my lady brain)

Fast forward (2015-2016 aren’t available for some reason)

2017 – $135,400 – $3,445

So, no matter what your actual home value is – you can’t stop them from changing the millage rate and they’re going to get what they need.

It looks like your new estimated taxes are going to be $355 higher than they were before. So, that’s not so bad in the big picture.

You can try to dispute it. I’m not entirely sure of the process but you have until April 25 to contact the assessor’s office and request an informal review (aka dispute form). The number to Polk county assessor is 515-286-3014. I think they provide a form and then you basically have to disparage your lovely house in comparison to other houses that sold to justify why your house is a “dump” and doesn’t deserve the $135,000 assessment.

Which, is probably going to be a losing battle since you bought last year (was it just last year??) for $130,000. BUT, you never know until you try.

I’ve owned property in Polk county since 2009 and this was the first time our assessment went up. But, I’ve been consistently paying more taxes every year. Government is so darn tricky.

There you have it – my thoughts on property tax assessments! If you have any questions feel free to send a message anytime.

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Heather Wright

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