Friday, December 10, 2010

Assessment Appeal Testimonial

Dear CAP:

We survived the hearing, and came out ahead. Yippee! They decreased our assessed value by about $17,800, so we're pretty happy about that. The Assessor's rep was kind of bowled over by the BOR guy after our response to their comps (1 of which was actually invalid). It didn't really seem like they were prepared for the hearing, and the BOR guy (sorry, can't remember his name) pretty much dismissed their comps and focused on ours. My only regret is that I didn't request an even lower assessment on my appeal form, since they gave me exactly what I had asked for. But, after what I learned of the process this year, I will be that much more prepared to do it again next year. I can't thank you enough for all of your expertise and assistance.

Allison, Grayslake

Monday, September 13, 2010

Do-It-Yourself Assessment Appeal Guide

APPEALING YOUR PROPERTY ASSESSMENT IN LAKE COUNTY
Citizens’ Action Project
September, 2010

The Major Steps (In appropriate sequence)
  1. Discuss with your Township Assessor
  2. Appeal to Lake County Board of Review (steps outlined below)
  3. Appeal to state Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB)
  4. Appeal in a Court of Law
Appealing to Lake County Board of Review (Do not delay! You have only 30 days to appeal.)

Research:
  1. Review the steps described in your assessment notice.
  2. Consult the Lake County Chief Assessor’s website.
  3. Look for properties comparable to yours by using this webpage.
  4. Review the appeal process and rules.
  5. Optional but recommended: Obtain property appraisal by an independent, accredited, professional appraiser.

    Document:


  6. Secure written appraisal from professional appraiser as of January 1 of the year on the assessment notice.
  7. Develop supporting data from Assessor’s web page (see Step 4.) on comparable properties in your neighborhood. Fill out “Comparable Assessment Grid” form.
  8. Document all conversations.

    Communicate:

  9. Discuss with neighbors (especially those who’ve appealed); share information.
  10. Before appealing, discuss with Township Appraiser. (He/she may agree or help)

    Appeal:

  11. Submit appeal form here and supporting documentation before the deadline.
  12. Prioritize and outline the key points to be made in your presentation (you have no longer than 15 minutes to make your case) before your hearing date.
  13. Appear at the review site at the appropriate time During the review meeting, stick to the outline and keep your remarks to the assessment only, do not mention the property taxes. Stick to relevant and provable facts.
TIPS FOR THE DO-IT-YOURSELF APPEAL

As soon as you receive your assessment notice, get to work because you only have 30 days to notify the county of your intent to appeal. See the appeal filing date deadline for your township.

1) Go to these websites to find sales in your neighborhood. Remember, for a 2010 appeal, you want sales of comparable properties that are as close to Jan. 1, 2010 as the data will allow. Make sure they are similar in square footage, type (e.g., ranch, 2-story, split level, etc.), construction, quality, age, etc. Here are some useful websites in order for ease of use:

http://www.dailyherald.com/classified/realestate/propertytransfers/
http://nwnews.public-record.com/realestate/search/lake
http://chicagotribune.public-record.com/realestate/
http://www.zillow.com

If you find three to five sales that present average lower market value than what your notice says, you probably have a compelling case.

2) Contact your local assessor and tell them you want to discuss your assessment to see if you could work something out before you go through the appeal process. If your assessor is amenable to looking at your comps, then give him/her a few days to assess the data and get back to you. If they do not get back to you within one week, contact them once again and demand a response that same day. If no response, then go ahead with the appeal process.

3) Your notice has explicit instructions on how to go through the appeal process. If you get a certified appraisal, then when you fill out and submit the appeal paperwork, make sure to check the part where it asks if you are going to use an appraisal in your defense.

4) If you hire an appraiser, you must make sure you mention two things: 1) this is for an assessment appeal. 2) Make sure they date the appraisal as of 1/1/2010 (always 1/1 of the assessed year). Appraisals should run you no more than $300.00.

5) This year, the county has put a code on each assessment notice so you can track the progress of your appeal on their website. This it makes it much easier to keep all your ducks in a row.

6) If you get the assessor's defense material ahead of your scheduled appeal, look it over and share the results with your appraiser to get an opinion. You may also want the appraiser to testify at your appeal if you think it is necessary. Some appraisers charge extra for this.

7) Whether in person or over the phone, do not be late to your appeal. Remember, an appeal lasts only 15 minutes. Good luck!

Monday, August 23, 2010

New-Look Assessment Notices Inspire Homeowner Appeals.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New-Look Assessment Notices Inspire Homeowner Appeals.
2010-08-23

Grayslake, IL August 23, 2010 -- Thanks to a new generation of enhanced property assessment notices, appeals for home valuations will soar this year, reports the Citizens Action Project (CAP). "It's clear that homeowners will be better able to question what their assessors are saying about their home values, which continue to drop in many communities," said John Wasik, President of CAP.

CAP is urging homeowners interested in lowering their assessments to attend the organization's annual workshop on Monday, September 13th at 7:30PM at Byron Colby Barn, 1561 Jones Point Road in Grayslake. A professional appraiser, real estate lawyer and citizen who has successfully appealed and lowered his assessment will be on hand to detail the appeal process and answer questions.

Lake County saw a tremendous spike in homeowner appeals last year. CAP was instrumental in enacting reforms to make "blue card" assessment notices more comprehensive. It also wrote and lobbied for The Homestead Assessment Transparency Act, which was passed into law and signed by Gov. Quinn last year.

According to Wasik, "It seems that our legislation not only made assessment notices more transparent, homeowners appear less intimidated to appeal. If Lake County is any indication, assessment appeal boards across the state better be prepared."

CAP is a Lake County-based nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose mission is to make fairness, accountability, and transparency the rule rather than exception in government.

A do-it-yourself-guide will be made available at the event. For more information, email info@citizensactionproject.org or go to http://citizensactionprojectnews.blogspot.com/

###

Contact:
Steve Minsky
Vice President, CAP
info@citizensactionproject.org
847-509-1336

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lake Co. clerk hopes video explains real estate tax process

By Mick Zawislak
Daily Herald

The skid in real estate values has been well documented. So why would your property tax bill increase? "There's no one answer. There are multiple issues that impact it," explained Lake County Clerk Willard Helander. While an explanation may not make taxpayers feel better, Helander said an understanding of the process could help prepare them if they choose to appeal.

With that, Helander has posted a 12-minute video at lakecountyil.gov/countyclerk explaining how property tax rates are calculated. Essentially, the bill is the total of all the rates multiplied by the value of the property as determined for taxing purposes. How it gets to that point is what the video tries to explain. "The biggest question in most people's minds is what calculations determine the total amount of my tax bill to be paid," she said. In the video, Helander reviews the basics including how that happens and other factors that can influence the total. "It gets confusing because there are so many pieces to the puzzle," she said.

The bottom line, however, is taxing bodies in some cases can increase the rate to make up for lost value. Tax caps don't apply to home rule communities, for example. "The assessments themselves have definitely gone down. The tax bills have not really gone down at all," observed Steve Minsky, vice president of the Citizens Action Project, a Grayslake-based watchdog group. "They (taxing bodies) can find other ways to keep it at the level they need to pay their bills. Unfortunately, that's the way it works." Minsky said that's why the group continues to examine all the property tax processes. "It's very important to challenge your assessment if you feel it is incorrect," he said. Any adjustment may not translate to a corresponding percentage drop in the tax bill, however. Taxpayers have 30 days after receiving their "blue" notice, which lists the value of the property and other information, to appeal. The timing varies by township but taxpayers usually receive it by late summer. "We're gearing up for that," Minsky said.

Helander noted there were "significantly more" appeals last year and the number is expected to double or triple after the notices go out this year. Minsky said county offices associated with the taxing process are "ahead of the curve in many ways" in providing information to citizens. But for reform to occur, "you've really got to deconstruct all the taxing bodies and come up with a solution," as to how much money they need to operate, he added. Helander said the general overview depicted in the video is the first in a series. "We wanted to start with a baby step," she said.

CAP - the comments to the article are priceless. They can be found at http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=388850.