Property values up in Pine County

Property values have been steadily increasing in Pine County. Pine County Assessor Lorri Houtsma and Deputy Assessor Troy Stewart shed some light on the property valuation process recently.

Houtsma explained, “Values have been increasing recently because the market has been increasing.” She said the tax statements residents receive represent taxes that are due in 2019, but the valuation notice represents what the property value will be in 2020.

“To arrive at the ‘estimated market value’ for taxes payable in 2020, a sales study is completed. This means we review all qualifying sales between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018, for each township and city in Pine County. Qualifying sales are sales that are considered arms-length transactions, where you have a willing seller and buyer and there is no duress on either part.

“According to the Department of Revenue, our sales ratios must fall within 90%to 105%, and when we have an increasing market,” she explained, “it is very likely that our values have fallen below 90% and then values are increased pursuant to statute.”

Houtsma added, “A tax increase could be for a number of reasons. You need to look at what is happening with the county, city or township and school budgets. Just because your value is increasing doesn’t necessarily mean your taxes are increasing.”

She said the county department physically reviews properties once every five years to update records such as if there is new construction on the property.

“All property values are adjusted annually whether we physically reviewed your parcel or not,” said Houtsma.

DISAGREEING WITH VALUATION

Houtsma explained, “If people have questions regarding next year’s value, I urge them to call our office and speak with the appropriate appraiser for their jurisdiction. There are board of equalization meetings for those who wish to attend and appeal their value. The times and dates are stated on the valuation notice. Once the meeting has taken place however, you have lost your right to appeal until the following year.”

If people are concerned about their taxes, Houtsma suggested filing for a property tax refund. That information can be found on the back of the tax statement.

She indicated if a resident’s property taxes increase more than 12 percent AND more than $100 in one year, the resident can file for a special property tax refund (again, the property owner should see the back of the statement for more information).

“I find the best way if someone has questions is to contact our office,” said Houtsma. “We would be more than happy to run through their information with them. If they feel it is incorrect, we then would schedule an interior review of their home to confirm our information.”

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