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Frequently Asked Questions

Q

How is market value determined?

A

Residential, commercial, and industrial real property are assessed at 100% market value. Market value of a property is an estimate of the price that it would sell for on the open market on the first day of January of the year of assessment. This is often referred to as the “arms-length transaction” or “willing buyer/willing seller” concept. The Assessor must determine the fair market value of real property. To do this, the Assessor generally uses three approaches to value.

Market Approach

The first approach is to find properties that are comparable to the subject property and that have recently sold. Local conditions peculiar to the subject property are then considered. In order to adjust for local conditions, the Assessor also uses sales ratio studies to determine the general level of assessment in a community. This method is generally referred to as the MARKET APPROACH and is usually considered the most important in determining the value of residential property.

Cost Approach

The second approach to value is the COST APPROACH, which is an estimate of how many dollars at current labor and material prices it would take to replace a property with one similar to it. In the event the improvement is not new, appropriate amounts of depreciation and obsolescence are deducted from replacement value. Value of the land is added to arrive at an estimate of total property value.

Income Approach

The INCOME APPROACH is the third method used if the property produces income. If the property is an income-producing property, it could be valued according to its ability to produce income under prudent management; in other words, what another investor would give for a property in order to gain its income. The income approach is the most complex of the three approaches because of the research, information and analysis necessary for an accurate estimate of value. This method requires thorough knowledge of local and national financial conditions, as well as any developmental trends in the area of the subject property being appraised since errors or inaccurate information can seriously affect the final estimate of value.

Agricultural real property is assessed at 100% of productivity and net earning capacity value. The Assessor considers the productivity and net earning capacity of the property. Agricultural income as reflected by production, prices, expenses, and various local conditions are taken into account.

Q

What are property owners' legal responsibilities?

A

It is your legal responsibility to report to the Assessor changes or improvements to your real estate. 441.24 (1) Code of Iowa provides:

If a person refuses to furnish the verified statements required in connection with the assessment of property by the assessor, or to list the corporation’s or person’s property, the director of revenue and finance or assessor, as the case may be, shall proceed to list and assess the property according to the best information obtainable and shall add to the taxable valuation one hundred percent thereof, which valuation and penalty shall be separately shown, and shall constitute the assessment; and if the valuation of the property is changed by a board of review or on appeal from a board of review, a like penalty shall be added to the valuation thus fixed.

There are many things you should report to your local assessor like:

  • New buildings
  • Buildings removed, torn down or damaged by fire or flood
  • Remodeling (interior and exterior)
  • Additions to house or buildings
  • New furnace / central air
  • Mobile homes
  • Fireplaces
  • Basement or attic finish
  • Decks, patios, and garages

Please call your local assessor’s office to report any changes to your property. Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.

Q

What are some important dates?

A

January 1: Effective date of current assessment

April 2 thru April 30: Protest of assessment period for filing with Board of Review

May 1 thru Adjournment: Board of Review meets each year

July 1: Sign up deadline Homestead Tax Credit & Military Exemption

November 1: Sign up deadline for Family Farm Tax Credit

October 9 thru October 31: Protest period for filing with Board of Review on properties affected by changes in value of Director of Revenue and Finance Equalization Orders (odd-numbered years only)

Q

What are the duties of the Assessor?

A

The Assessor is charged with several administrative and statutory duties. The primary duty and responsibility is to assess all real property within the Assessor’s jurisdiction except that which is otherwise provided by law. This would include residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural classes of property.

Real property is revalued every two years. The effective date of the assessment is January first of each year. The Assessor determines a full or partial value for all new construction and improvements depending upon their state of completion as of that January first date.

GENERAL MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE ASSESSOR’S DUTIES

The Assessor DOES NOT:

  • Collect taxes
  • Calculate taxes
  • Determine tax rate
  • Set policy for the Board of Review

The Assessor is concerned with value, not taxes. Taxing jurisdictions such as schools, cities and county, adopt budgets after public hearings. This determines the tax levy, which is the rate of taxation required to raise the money budgeted.

Q

Why do values change?

A

After properties have been appraised, the values are analyzed to ensure accurate and equitable assessments. Iowa law requires that all real property be reassessed every two years. The current law requires the reassessment to occur in odd-numbered years. Changes in market value as indicated by research, sales ratio studies, and analysis of local conditions as well as economic trends both in and outside the construction industry are used in determining property assessments.

If you disagree with the Assessor’s estimate of value, please consider these two questions:

  1. What is the actual market value of my property?
  2. How does the value compare to similar properties in the neighborhood?

If you have any questions about the assessment of your property, please contact the Assessor’s office.

A written protest may be filed with the Poweshiek County Board of Review, which is composed of five individuals from various areas of the county who are familiar with local market conditions and trends. The Board operates independently of the Assessor’s office and has the power to confirm or to adjust upward or downward any assessment. An individual may petition to the Property Assessment Appeal Board or district court if they are not satisfied with the Board of Review’s decision.