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Wright County News

Posted on: February 25, 2020

County Assessor Explains Process of Appealing House Valuations

In March, Wright County residents are going to start receiving the valuation notices for their homes, businesses and properties from the Wright County Assessor’s Office.

County Assessor Tony Rasmuson said that his department oversees 67,000 parcels in the county and is responsible for determining the estimated market value of each property and what the classification of the property is – different classifications have different taxing rates.

He pointed out that his office has nothing to do with property tax statements and the amount of tax an individual home or business owner pays. He and his staff often hear from residents when property tax statements are sent out later in the year, but said his staff’s job is exclusive to determining the value of each property.

“Our office is solely valuation and classification,” Rasmuson said. “That’s what we’re about. We often times get the blame for taxation. That isn’t our world. We make sure we have values that are credible, fair and equitable. We’re responsible for the apportionment of taxes in a 67,000-piece pie based on those values and classifications.”

Every city and township has its own local board of appeal and equalization, although nine of the county’s 17 cities and three of the 18 townships have opted to go with an “Open Book Meeting” – having their local cases heard on the same day at the assessor’s office in the Government Center in Buffalo.

For the rest, Rasmuson said that there are procedures that need to be followed and they’re pretty clear cut.

“You’ve got three levels of appeal,” Rasmuson said. “The first is your local board of equalization. The second is the county board of equalization and the only way you can go to the county board is if you made an appeal first at the local board where you live. The third is to appeal directly to my office.”

While most valuations and classifications are deemed accurate, coming into an appeal prepared is critical to getting a valuation changed. 

“The people that I see having the most success with appeals are those who have done their homework and have a good idea what their property is worth,” Rasmuson said. “Otherwise, they’re going to be up against us and we work with real estate professionals all the time. Too often, people disagree with a valuation or classification and their only evidence is that they don’t think the value is right.”

The value of properties has several factors that weigh into coming up with a valuation, so Rasmuson said the key to any successful appeal is to make sure the data his office is using is correct and accurate.

“When you get the notification of value, the first step is to contact your assessor,” Rasmuson said. “That way, you go over the data and make sure that the data that is in our CAMA (Computer-Assisted Mass Appraisal) system is accurate. From there, you have a discussion about the value and how we came about that value. We use mass appraisal techniques. When you’re dealing with 67,000 parcels, a lot of this is tableized. It’s tableized according to how the marketplace has acted over the course of that year.”

Among the factors use to determine what tables a property is in include how much land the parcel sits on, the style of home, quality of the home and amenities within the home. The statistics used are based on what similar homes in that table in the immediate vicinity of a property have been selling for. Rasmuson said that the numbers his office have come up with for value of properties has been very consistent with sale prices for the last decade and confidence is high in the model they use.

Some appeals can result in a change in valuation, but the percentage isn’t high. With advancements in technology anyone can see the current value of a property. The website has maps that allow anyone to zoom on a specific property and see the value listed. But, Rasmuson said the best course of action is to contact his office to get a better handle on why values are set where they are.

“The only thing I would say is if you intend on appealing, the first thing to do is talk to the assessor and make sure that the information that is in our system is accurate,” Rasmuson said. “We try to put all that out in Beacon so that people can see it. If there is a mistake, we don’t want to have people paying more for their taxes.

“You can take a look at what homes have sold for in your area,” Rasmuson added. “One of the problems we run into is that people look at prices, but they’re not comparing apples to apples. You can’t compare a rambler to a split entry home. If you make sure that the comparisons you do are accurate, then you likely will have a better chance of winning your appeal.”

The County Board of Appeal and Equalization will take place Monday, June 15 starting at 4 p.m. Appointments are required and must be made by 4:30 p.m. Monday, June 8 through the assessor’s office.

To see the dates and times for the local boards of appeal and equalization, click here: 

To see the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s fact sheet for appealing your valuation and classification, click here:  

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