Why Do We Need a Reappraisal?

April 13, 2020 by Meredith Trimble

Why Do We Need a Reappraisal?

Resident engagement with local government is unquestionable when it comes to paying taxes. For better or worse, everyone recognizes that regular transaction. Property taxes fund safe neighborhoods, parks and recreational opportunities, quality education, public safety, road maintenance, and more. These are essential community services.

What’s less clear are periodic reassessments – or revaluations – that occur in communities. The presence of assessors poking around homes along with the anticipation of a tax increase can be unnerving for constituents. Even municipal staff members in other operational areas can have difficulty explaining the reappraisal process or the reasons behind it.

It’s important for everyone to understand reassessment basics and to demystify them to community members as part of establishing trusted government-constituent connections.

Fair Market Value

Simply put, reassessment allows assessors to determine the accurate, fair market value of each property in the jurisdiction as of a point in time. This becomes the starting point for defining fair and equitable taxation in which everyone is paying their fair share.

The importance of establishing fair market value is like going out to eat at a restaurant with a group of friends. Do you split the bill evenly when one party orders just a salad and water and another enjoys a full steak dinner with red wine? Although this scenario certainly happens, it’s not what we’d call fair.

It’s for this underlying principle of fairness that properties must go through a reassessment. The process addresses ways in which home values can fluctuate, including:

  • Structural additions
  • Increased construction costs
  • Real estate market changes
  • Other inequities

A goal of ensuring fairness across all taxpayers means that resident property taxes won’t automatically increase as a result of a reassessment. Taxes may increase, decrease, or stay the same.

Luckily, the use of modern technology has dramatically improved the appraisal process. With high-resolution and satellite photographs, as well as using data collected from multiple sources, the information that’s collected and reviewed is accurate and reliable. Properties, for example, can be viewed from every angle, with high-resolution pictures showing key elements that might affect the value such as lot size, location, property characteristics, and more. This information can be compiled electronically with all associated maps, sketches, and property notes for precise analysis by the assessor’s office.

This new video provides a detailed overview of the appraisal process, including how assessors capture information, what methodology is used to analyze the information, and how owners can communicate with the assessor’s office about their notices of value.

Funding Communities

After the reassessment process, the taxing unit, such as a municipality, county, or school district, will recalculate the tax rate based on the new property values. Equalization of tax shares follows. Some property taxes will decrease, some will increase, and some will remain the same. The goal goes back to the group of friends at the restaurant: if you order a salad, your new tax bill should be based on the salad, not the steak.

It’s a productive, positive effort that equitably funds the services that keep communities thriving. For more, watch this video overview of the reassessment process and the reasons behind it.

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