Chances are, you’ve heard a lot about Douglas County’s property valuations this year.
I’m simplifying the situation, but this is what’s been going on in a nutshell: Preliminary valuations for Douglas County were posted to the Assessor’s website in January. Due to the Assessor’s office making some tweaks to their valuation model – mainly aiming for 99% of fair market value – many of the valuations were perceived as over market value, too high, and often inconsistent.
State law mandates that assessed valuations must be between 92-100% of fair market value. Based on feedback from folks like you and I, as well as the Douglas County Board, the Assessor’s office has compromised with a 93% target valuation, instead of 99%.
Good news – none of the preliminary values are permanent. The Assessor’s office will send the final valuations to the state in March, and by May the new valuations will be posted to Assessor’s website. By state law, any property with a valuation change from 2016 to 2017 must be mailed a notice, which usually go out Memorial Day weekend. By June 1st, the valuations must be made public, which means you have from June 1st until June 30th to file a formal protest with the Douglas County Board of Equalization.
Here are a few things to note about the appeal process:
- The Board of Equalization will assign a “referee” to your case to review the facts and do independent research. The referee is a private appraiser. The Board of Equalization, who are the Douglas County Commissioners, will ultimately decide on the valuation. Still don’t like your valuation? The next step would be to appeal the decision to TERC, Nebraska’s Tax Equalization and Review Commission.
- If you’ve had a recent appraisal done on your property (within the last year is preferred), make sure to take it with you to your appeal.
- You’ll want to research your neighbor’s valuations before you go. It’s important to understand how comparable properties are being assessed. Visit the Douglas County Assessor’s website to get started. I find the GIS map extremely helpful and easy to use.
- You’ll also want to research comparable sales (‘comps’ as those of us in the biz refer to them). A REALTOR® can get you ACCURATE data on this from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). I would advise against using a platform like Zillow for this information, as they are not affiliated with the National Association of Realtors, and therefore don’t have access to the MLS, which is where thousands of agents in Omaha and the surrounding area enter their sales information.
- Take other documentation supporting your claim – photos, repair estimates, etc. Remember that the process is based on facts, not emotions. Be prepared to give a fair assessed value for your home.
- Make copies of everything you take with you. 🙂
It may all sound a bit overwhelming and that’s where my Realtor friends and I can help. Your property rights are extremely important to us, so treat them with the care they deserve. Just give us a call for help anytime!