Property Owners FAQ

What is a revaluation?

A revaluation is a complete and thorough review of assessments. During a revaluation, assessments are examined and adjustments are made where necessary to guarantee that property is assessed at market value on a fair and equitable basis. This is done to assure that taxes are distributed equitably and uniformly.

What is the assessor’s role?

The assessor is a state-certified individual whose duties are to discover, list, and place a value on all non-manufacturing taxable real and personal property in the municipality in a uniform manner. THE ASSESSOR IS NOT INVOLVED IN THE DETERMINATION OF TAX RATES OR COLLECTION OF PROPERTY TAXES.

What is market value?

Market value is defined as the amount a typical, well-informed purchaser would be willing to pay for a property. The seller and buyer must be unrelated. The seller must be willing but not under pressure to sell, and the buyer must be willing but not under any obligation to buy. The property must be on the market for a reasonable length of time, the payment must be in cash or its equivalent, and the financing must be typical for that type of property. If all of these conditions are met, this would be an example of market value or an arm’s-length sale

How will changes in assessed value affect my taxes?

Your share of taxes depends upon the assessed value of your property in relation to the assessed value of other properties within your municipality. For example, if your assessed value increase is greater than the average increase for the municipality, your tax share may increase. If your assessed value increase is less than the average for the municipality, your tax share may decrease.

The actual tax levied by the municipality is determined by the budgeted needs of the schools, technical colleges, and municipal, county, and the state governments. All of these taxing units decide what services they will provide and how much money they will need to provide these services. Once these decisions are made, a tax rate is determined. Your actual tax obligation is calculated by multiplying the tax rate by your assessed value.

How do I know if the assessed value of my property is correct?

You should first determine for yourself what your property is actually worth. This can be done by looking at recent property sales, contacting appraisers, and comparing the assessed value of your property to similar properties. Property sales and assessment information is available at the Assessor’s Office, and open to the public for review during regular business hours.

What will happen to my assessed value if I improve my property?

Generally speaking, significant improvements that increase the market value of a property will usually increase the assessed value. The following are typical items that will increase the assessed value of your property:
– Adding rooms, decks or garages
– Replacing older siding or roofing with aluminum or vinyl siding
– Installing central air conditioning
– Fireplaces
– Extensive remodeling

Can the assessment on my property be changed even if the assessor has not seen the inside of my property?

To make a proper assessment on a building, it is desirable for the assessor to see the inside and the outside of the property. Wisconsin state law requires the property value be based on actual view, or the best information available. The assessor maintains records on the physical characteristics of each property in the municipality. Even though the assessor may not have gained access to the inside of a property, the assessed value will be determined based on the best information available.

Do all assessments change at the same rate?

No. The value of properties with similar characteristics often changes at a similar rate. However, properties of different styles, locations or size may change at a different rate. Each property must be reviewed individually to establish an accurate assessed value.

Will I be penalized if I do not allow the assessor access to the inside of my property?

When the assessor is denied access to the interior of a property, the assessor will establish a value based on an exterior review of the property plus any other information available. It is to your advantage to allow the assessor access to the inside of your property to verify the record. There is no penalty for not allowing the assessor to verify the interior.

I have recently built a new home. Will the construction costs be considered?

Under state law, the assessment must be based on the market value of the improvement. The assessor looks at how much the total value of the building and land changed due to the improvement. The cost may not be the true measure of any change in market value. However, under many circumstances, a property owner will calculate the change in value due to remodeling approximates the cost of such work. If there is an increase in market value, it should be reflected in an increase in assessed value.

How does the assessor determine a property's assessed value?

Wisconsin law requires that property assessments be based on fair market value. Estimating the market value of your property is a matter of determining the price a typical buyer would pay for it in its present condition. Some factors the assessor considers are what similar properties are selling for, what it would cost to replace your property, and the rent it may earn.

What is a revaluation?

The need for a revaluation is usually established by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, based on the relationship between the assessed value established by the assessor, and the equalized value established by the state. When the state determines a revaluation is necessary, the municipality will receive a series of notices with an established deadline for a revaluation. Failure on the municipality’s part to perform a timely revaluation will result in the state taking responsibility for performing the revaluation.

Could the assessed value change even though I've made no changes to my property?

General economic conditions such as inflation, local business climate and changes in tax laws will influence the value of real estate. As property values change in the market place the assessed value may change.

Will my assessment go up if I repair my property?

Good maintenance will help retain the market value of your property. Generally, your assessment will not be increased for individual minor repairs; however, a combination of repairs like those listed below may result in an increase in the assessed value:
. Repairing concrete walks and driveways
. Replacing gutters and down spouts
. Replacing hot water heater
. Repairing porches and decks steps
. Repairing original siding
. Patching or repairing interior walls and ceilings
. Exterior painting
. Replacing electrical fixtures
. Replacing furnace
. Exterior awnings and shutters
. Weather stripping, Replacing screens, storm windows, or doors
. Landscaping including lawns, shrubbery, trees, flowers

Will I be notified if there is a change in my property’s assessed value?

Wisconsin law requires a notice be sent to the property owner for any change in if the assessed value of their property.

Everything I read and hear in the news media tells me housing values have dropped over the past year so why hasn’t my assessment dropped?

In Wisconsin, we’ve been fortunate that our property values are weathering the market relativity well compared to many other areas of
the country. While the news media portrays values as dropping, it speaks to an overall trend in some areas and doesn’t take into account a specific neighborhood or specific properties. In actuality, some communities, and some neighborhoods, have seen values increase;
many neighborhoods are experiencing fewer sales yet values remain relatively stable; and a few neighborhoods have experienced
foreclosures and short sales that have driven market values lower. It’s the latter neighborhoods that capture news media attention.

If your municipality happens to be conducting a revaluation this year, then your assessment will reflect the most probable market value. A
revaluation sets all properties at market value as of Jan 1 and establishes the relationships of one property to another. Those relationships remain until the next revaluation. If your community is
not conducting a revaluation this year, then your assessment will likely not be adjusted if the only change occurring is the same market adjustment that the rest of the community is experiencing. Just as your assessment didn’t go up each year when property values where rapidly increasing, your assessment will not be adjusted downward just because values are declining. The reason for this is twofold. If all values are going up or all values are going down, it doesn’t change the
relationship of one property to another and therefore doesn’t change the tax bill.

Secondly, in order to contain costs, most municipalities do not perform a revaluation every year. It is the revaluation process that adjusts
everybody’s value to reflect those properties which have sold.

Wouldn’t my property taxes go down if the assessor lowered home values in our community?

Not necessarily. To illustrate how the levy affects your assessment we’ll look at Badgertown; a community of two. Each resident owns a house
valued at $100,000. Badgertown’s tax levy is $2,000; the amount needed to cover its expenses. Since each resident owns 50% of the total
property, they each pay 50% of the levy giving them each a tax bill of $1,000.

If property values in Badgertown go up 10%, then each property is assessed at $110,000. The amount they pay in taxes, however, remains the same. Each resident still owns 50% of the total property in Badgertown and must pay 50% of the $2,000 tax levy or $1,000. And what if values start dropping? Residents’ property might drop to $80,000 each but because they each still own 50% of the property, and Badgertown still needs to collect $2,000, they will continue to see a
$1,000 property tax bill.

I’ve just refinanced my home and the appraisal used by the bank indicates a lower value than my assessed value. Can I use this as evidence to lower my assessment?

It depends on the reason(s) why there is a difference of value. If the refinancing appraisal is lower because the property information used by your assessor is inaccurate then yes. You should ask your assessor to visit your property, perform an on-site inspection to verify the inaccuracies, and determine a new value based upon the newly attained description. If your refinancing appraisal is lower because it represents sales evidence from the past 90 days and if your assessment was determined a number of years ago from the last revaluation, then
probably not. Making changes to assessed values because of economic conditions are done in the context of a municipal-wide revaluation so that all property values are adjusted to current market levels and every property owner is treated in a similar manner. This creates and ensures property tax equity and uniformity throughout your entire municipality.

The family across the street was foreclosed on by the bank who sold their home for a lot less than the assessed value. Isn't that proof that my assessment should be lowered?

Usually not. Foreclosed properties are being marketed under duress and frequently sell at discount prices. While there have been more
foreclosure-related sales during 2008 and 2009 than any time during the past 20 years, foreclosure sales have always been part of the market.

In this downturn, Wisconsin has fared better than most states as real estate values adjust to the economic climate. Just as foreclosure-related sales are frequently not an indicator of market value when values are rising, they are not necessarily an indicator of value in a declining market and are not normally considered by the assessor when determining the market value of property in a community. In fact,
Wisconsin law, appraisal standards, and Wisconsin courts, require very specific criteria for a sale to be considered as a reliable indicator of
market value. Two of the most important of these criteria are whether the sale occurred under duress (such as a forced sale) and whether the
property had adequate market exposure. For example, a property that sells two weeks after it’s listed may have sold quickly because it was
under-priced. This may be an indication of a duress situation, requiring closer review by the assessor, to verify whether is was an arms length
transaction. In most cases, looking at non-foreclosure sales is the most reliable way to gauge what is actually happening with neighborhood values.

There are times when the majority of homes that are selling in your neighborhood tend to be around the same price as foreclosure-related
sales. In this case, they may represent a reasonable picture of market value.

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