How low will they go?

Bending to market pressures, Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo recently announced that the County’s 2009 valuation update will likely result in significant decreases in the County’s assessed value of residential homes – with an 8% average reduction across the County. 

   

The media reports note that the State intends to compare Mr. Russo’s proposed values to the actual sales figures from each community and will ultimately approve new fair market values likely between 92% to 94% of the fair market value.  The State’s suggestion of a 6% to 8% discount off of the appraised fair market value is really aimed at those properties that have not been recently sold. This “discount” should not be applicable to those non-residential properties where there was a recent arm’s length sale of the property. 

 

School districts (when the sale exceeds the current assessed value) and property owners (when the sale is below the assessed value) actively seek adjustment of the market value of the non-residential properties to an amount equal to the purchase price. The Ohio Supreme Court has held that the purchase price paid in an arm’s length sale is the best indication of the fair market value of real property.  

 

The Auditor’s decision to seek an 8% average reduction in value comes at the close of the property tax complaint filing season which ended March 31. In Cuyahoga County alone, a reported 17,000 decrease complaints were filed at the Cuyahoga County Board of Revision with respect to the 2008 tax year. Compared to the record 10,000 decrease filings last year with respect to the 2007 tax year, the 2008 “off-year” filings (the last year of the 2006-2008 triennium) are extremely notable.  

 


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Many counties in Ohio, Hamilton and Franklin included, have just completed their triennial valuation of real property. In this day and age of falling real estate values and 401(k) balances, saving money is on everyone’s mind. That makes today a good day to review the Auditor’s new value of your property and ask yourself, “Am I paying taxes based upon my property’s correct value?”

Many factors influence property values, and the Auditor’s appraisers, despite their best efforts, are all too often not privy to all the information. The burden therefore falls on the shoulders of the property owner to provide additional information to the Auditor when necessary. In order to do this, a properly completed Complaint Against the Valuation of Real Property form (see links for  Hamilton County, Franklin County, and  Cuyahoga County forms) must be filed with the Auditor’s office on or before March 31st of the following tax year. This means if you are filing by March 31st of this year, you are actually challenging the valuation of your property as of January 1, 2008. And each county typically has its own set of procedural rules for filing a complaint, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the correct process to avoid dismissal of your case.

 

 


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