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Opinion: Nearly half of properties decreased in reassessment

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Part of my job as Greene County Assessor is to help property owners understand the assessment process. Having recently completed the 2011–12 reassessment, my office has been, understandably, flooded with phone calls and e-mails – although fortunately not, as I joked last week with Springfield News-Leader, threats. Most property owners simply want an answer to this question: Why has my value gone up?

Missouri statutes require me to determine the market value of all agricultural, residential and commercial property every two years. In any mass appraisal system, some properties will always be undervalued. My office’s market value of your home may be below the likely selling price of your home.

If the assessor’s market value of your property has gone up, it could be because your property was previously undervalued. As required by law, we’re trying to bring our values up to actual market value. But keep this in mind: My office may show an increase in your market value, but the new value may still be below what your property would actually sell for. Other reasons your value may have increased include: new construction or newly subdivided lots, additions to your home, partial assessments in previous years and data corrections.

Assessors consider all of these factors to determine market value. The actual purchase price of recently sold properties would, of course, be extremely helpful in determining market value. In Missouri, however, this data is not available to assessors unless you voluntarily bring it to us. Assessors also have no access to multilist data.

While many values increased, 45 percent to 50 percent of the Greene County parcels actually decreased in the recent reassessment. Another 5 percent to 10 percent saw no change.

Once we have determined the market value of a property, it’s easy to find the assessed value. We multiply the market value by these statutory percentages: agricultural, 12 percent; residential, 19 percent; and commercial, 32 percent. For example, a home with a $100,000 market value has an assessed value of $19,000.

The assessed value is the number used to determine property tax bills. Each taxing entity, such as school and fire districts, sets a tax levy by September. This levy is multiplied by your assessed value to determine your tax bill. Because of Missouri’s Hancock Amendment, property tax levies change almost every year, so you can’t assume that a 10 percent increase in your market value equals a 10 percent tax increase.

If you have received a reassessment and you believe my office has valued your property too high, we want to hear from you. Please call my office to speak with an appraiser. It’s not necessary to have a professional appraisal, but it’s important to gather any documentation that supports your claim, such as recent sales of similar properties, before speaking with an appraiser.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have questions, please contact my office at (417) 829-6180 for residential or agricultural property or (417) 868-4094 for commercial. We are always ready to assist property owners any way we can.

—Rick Kessinger, Greene County Assessor
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