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Property Tax Assessments Bottom Line: Appeal

Last week I wrote about Borough property tax assessments and a number of property owners in Homer were facing huge leaps in property assessment values. Some clients are reporting increases of $50,000 to $100,000 while some land owners are looking at assessed values greater than market value of their properties.

This week, the Kachemak Board of Realtors invited the borough assessors down to Homer for a meeting about these notices. Local builders, realtors, appraisers, inspectors, lenders and title offers came out to hear what the assessors had to say and try to get a handle on why the big leaps this year.

I had wondered in my last post about a change in assessment ratio – there was a change and it was a change that would bring the borough in line with State Law at 100% of market value. It used to be 95% of market value, two years ago it jumped to 96%, last year to 98% and its now in line at 100%.

During this meeting, the assessors told us how they arrived at an assessed value for houses and land and what’s changed this year. In a nutshell, three things have changed: A house-type factor analysis (house types are grouped together for analysis), the assessment ratio (from 98% last year to 100% this year) and they re-calibrated land values for Homer this year. These three things combined are what’s resulted in the new assessments.

I asked a few of my fellow Realtors in town what they though of this change and they unanimously stated that they felt that the re-calibrated land values were off. So my advice to you is to look at your assessment bill closely and don’t delay.  The deadline for appeal is the end of March and though the assessors can’t get to everyone before then, filing an appeal secures your spot in line to be reassessed.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that if you feel your property assessment is too high, contact the Borough to appeal your assessment. It’ll cost you to submit your formal appeal, of course, but it sounds like some appeals can be handled by a phone call to the borough.

During your phone call to the Borough, make sure the information they have about your property is correct including any and all utilities, roads, wetlands, non-useable parts of  your land, anything. Ask them to share how they arrived at that number and see if they’ll share the supporting information like comparable property sales and adjustments.

If you get to the point of filing a formal appeal, remember that part of that process involves assessors coming back to your property and going in side your house to make a more formal determination.

Here’s a link to the borough assessor’s appeal page for more information: http://www.kpb.us/assessing-dept/what-s-new/appealing-your-assessment

1 Comment

  1. In the know

    Interestingly enough, the “land appraiser” is also a licensed real estate broker with an active brokerage (see lescrane.com). Les has taken it upon himself to get very creative regarding land factors such as view and gas. Challenge him to provide the statistical data regarding any and all aspects of your land value, not with some lame words, but actual numbers. Also, realtors should question les’ access to the sensitive mls data (one of the only reasons he was hired on there) and his conflict of interests as an active broker and borough tax appraiser. Take a long look at how your land is being valued compared to your neighbors. All land is to be valued “as though vacant, for highest and best use”. This has been perverted by les crane and tom anderson in that land is being valued by USE more often than not, for example: outside of city limits, where there is no zoning, if you have a commercial business on your land, it will likely be valued higher than a neighboring parcel that is strictly residential solely due to the fact that there is a business on site (not fair or equitable). As there is no zoning outside of city limits, it is with rare exception (years of trending sales) that similar land can be treated so differently.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg folks. The ASSessing department is continuing a downward spiral, primarily due to a lack of leadership and practical experience (zero managerial experience coming from a one man show in Kodiak to KPB) from the assessor, and the greed and lack of a spine from the mayor. Contact the state assessor and let him know what is going on. Another letter of error is right around the corner for the borough and YOU, the taxpayer, will pay for the boroughs incompetence.

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