Assessing the situation

In a wide raging conversation this past week Douglas County Assessor Roger Morrissey shared his observations on the operations of an office has headed since 1999.  Having lost, just a week previous, the Democrat party primary election for the consolidation of the Assessor and Register of Deeds offices, Mr. Morrissey was none-the-less full engaged in spite of having just seven months left on the job. In a discussion that focused a great deal on the valuation protest process two bigger picture issues caught my attention. #1 – The Assessor’s office does not determine property’s value rather it is determined by the market, i.e. sales prices of comparable properties agreed upon by a buyer and seller.  The Assessor’s office evaluates individual properties and assigns an assessed valuation based on that market data.  This of course is the same message that we as REALTORS® deliver nearly every day to buyers and sellers.  #2 – The Assessor’s office does not determine or set what your property taxes will be.  Taxes are set first and foremost by those government entities that have taxing authority and specifically by their level of spending. In the most simple terms government spending divided by total valuation provides a tax or mil levy rate which is applied against your individual property valuation to determine your individual tax amount due.  How many time have we heard elected officials argue that taxes i.e. the tax mil levy rate has not increased but of course if the valuation has gone up, without a decline in the mil levy rate, then so has our total property tax burden (something politicians seem to count on) .   All of that said, the assessed valuation of our individual properties determines what portion of that total government spending we bear as property owners and thus making certain that the valuation is accurate and fair is vitally important.  Mr. Morrissey was quick to acknowledge that the Assessor’s office has and does make mistakes thus the importance of the valuation protest process.  If you own property in Douglas County you should check your  mailbox for a valuation notice which were mailed yesterday.  If you feel that the revised valuation is in error or unfair you have the opportunity to file a protest by mail between June 1st and June 30th or online between June 1st and June 21st. Your protest can be based on similar sales, property and in particular interior conditions not observed by the Assessor’s Office appraiser, or simply errors in the Assessor’s Office property record.  In our discussion Mr. Morrissey pointed out that approximately 50% of protests result in a change in valuation.  For complete information on the process you can visit http://www.boardofequalization.org/.  If you do not receive a notice in the mail your valuation is likely unchanged from 2013 however you can check online to be certain at http://www.dcassessor.org/valuation-lookup. Other Omaha – Lincoln metro area counties all have similar protest procedures and we would be happy to steer you in the right direction should you have questions.  Remember whether buying or selling, moving up or downsizing, Lincoln or Omaha, the Vaccaros; Paul & Susan, stand ready to assist you, your family, friends and co-workers.  Call or email us today!  Lincoln (402)817-0355 , Omaha (402)577-0820, info@WeSellNebraska.com  (Paul & Susan Vaccaro – CBSHome Real Estate 15950 W Dodge Road, Suite 200, Omaha, NE 68118 – Woods Bros Realty 3737 S 27th Street, Lincoln, NE  68502.

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