Q. What is the role of the assessor?
A. The assessor is a state certified professional whose duties are to discover, list, and place a value on all taxable real and personal property in the county. The assessor is not involved in the collection of the property tax.
Q. How does the assessor value property?
A. Wisconsin law requires that property assessments be based on fair market value. Estimating the market value of your property is a matter of determining the price that a typical buyer would pay for the property in its present condition.
- Some factors the assessor considers are:
- what similar properties are selling for
- what it would cost to replace your property
- what rent it may earn
It is important to remember that the assessor does not create this value, but rather interprets what is happening in the real estate market.
Q. What if I start to build in February and finish mid-year?
A. Assessment is what exists on January 1st of the year. Discuss this with your assessor.
Q. What will happen to my assessment if I improve my property?
A. Generally speaking, improvements that increase the market value of a property will increase the assessed value. The following are typical items that will increase the assessed value of your property:
- Added rooms, garages, porches or decks
- Aluminum or vinyl siding
- Substantial modernization of kitchens or baths
- Central air conditioning
- Extensive remodeling
- Swimming pool
- Basement finish (family room, den, etc)
Q. Will my assessment go up if I repair my property?
A. Good maintenance will help retain the market value of your property. Generally, your assessment will not be increased for individual minor repairs such as those that follow:
- Repairing concrete walks and drives
- Replacing gutters and down spouts
- Replacing hot water heater
- Repairing or replacing roof
- Repairing porches and steps
- Repairing original siding
- Patching or repairing interior walls/ceilings
- Exterior painting
- Exterior awnings and shutters
- Replacing electrical fixtures
- Replacing furnace
- Weather stripping, screens, storm windows and doors
- Exterior landscaping including lawns, shrubbery, trees, flowers
Q. How can my assessment change when I haven't done anything to my property?
A. General economic conditions such as interest rates, inflation rates, and changes in the tax laws, will influence the value of real estate. As property values change in the market place, those changes must be reflected on the assessment roles.
Q. Will I be notified if there is a change in my assessment?
A. Wisconsin law requires that whenever an assessment is changed, the owner must be notified. Assessment notices are mailed 15 days prior to the Board of Review.
Q. Why don't all assessments change at the same rate?
A. There are differences between individual properties and between neighborhoods. In one area the sales may indicate a substantial increase in value in a given year. In another neighborhood there may be no change in value, or even a decrease in property values.
Different types of properties within the same neighborhood may also show different value changes. For example, one-story houses may be more in demand than two-story houses, or older homes in the same area may be rising in value more slowly than newer homes.
There are numerous factors to be considered in each property which will cause the values to differ. Some of the factors which can affect value are location, age, condition, size, quality, number of baths, basement finish, and garages.
Q. I've heard you develop values by computer. Is this correct?
A. Just as in many other fields, computers are also useful in the assessment process. Assessors are trained to look for associations or relationships between property characteristics and market value. By analyzing these characteristics, and studying sales prices, assessors can begin to predict or estimate value by developing formulas and models.
Computers are much faster and are capable of advanced analysis in this area. But despite these capabilities, common sense and assessor judgment are always required to verify our assessments. We ask the assessors most familiar with the neighborhoods and properties to review all computer generated values.
Q. Will I be penalized if I don't let the assessor in when an inspection is requested?
A. When an interior inspection is not allowed, the assessor will attempt to update our records by looking at the property from the outside and using any other available information.
To ensure an accurate assessment, it is to your advantage to allow the assessor inside your property when an inspection is requested. By denying an inspection, you may lose the right to appeal your assessment to the Board of Review.
Q. How do I know if my assessment is fair?
A. You should first attempt to decide for yourself what your property is worth. This can be done by looking at area sales, contacting appraisers, and comparing assessments of similar homes. Assessment information is available in our office and open to the public for review during regular office hours.