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Typical St. Louis County Property Will Likely See Increase In Value

Property Reassessment

St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman said the median increase in value for residential properties throughout St. Louis County is up 7.3 percent. In 2015 that increase was only 2.3 percent. Homes above are located on South Gore Avenue in Webster Groves. photo by Ursula Ruhl.

April 21, 2017
It's that time again! Time for visits by county appraisers. Time for a little head-scratching as to why your land and house went up in value by double digits. Time to plan out your county property reassessment appeal.

St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman recently announced that property owners in St. Louis County can now view preliminary 2017 real property values for real estate located in St. Louis County. Property owners are encouraged to review preliminary values online as soon as possible.

Property owners can view 2017 preliminary values at: revenue.stlouisco.com/ias. These values, however, are not final.

The St. Louis County Assessor's office anticipates revisions to many individual property values as valuation reviews continue. Values will continue to be adjusted until July 1, based on continuing review by appraisers, physical visits to thousands of properties and direct input from property owners.

"The sooner a property owner lets us know if they have concerns about our opinion of value, the sooner we can investigate." — County Assessor Jake Zimmerman
"Although we continue to review and update property values, I believe it is very important for taxpayers to see preliminary numbers as early as possible," Zimmerman said.

"We are encouraged by numbers showing an increase in values across the county, but we know there may be variances in some of our data so we encourage property owners to contact us," Zimmerman added. "The sooner a property owner lets us know if they have concerns about our opinion of value, the sooner we can investigate."

Craig Niehaus of Glendale is not encouraged by the online posting of his property with a 29 percent hike in value. He has had a visit by a county contract employee who asked to come inside his house for a closer look to evaluate the legitimacy of the steep increase.

Niehaus said friends in Kirkwood and in Webster Groves are reporting similar visits from county appraisal workers. He said the results of those visits are not provided on site.

"I think the county has held back on hiking values the last several two-year cycles because of a sluggish economy," said Niehaus. "But now we are seeing tear-downs and bigger in-fill housing going up in the area. It all has an effect and the county is doing hikes.

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"The average hike in our area was around six percent, but now we are seeing 20 and 30 percent hikes," said Niehaus. "I saw a big hike in my home value and land value."

Great For The Region

"Rising real estate values are great for our region," said Zimmerman. "Unlike in previous reassessment cycles, the hike in real estate values is not just confined to specific neighborhoods or affluent parts of the community. We are seeing increases across the county. A rising tide lifts all boats and that is great news for all of St. Louis County."

Based on early data, the median change in value for residential properties throughout St. Louis County is at 7.3 percent. This compares favorably with a median change of about 2.3 percent across the county during 2015, the last reassessment year.

These percentages are not reflective of any individual property or neighborhood. Many real estate properties in the Webster Groves, Lindbergh and Kirkwood school districts are actually experiencing larger increases.

While the typical St. Louis County property has seen an increase in value, some individual properties and whole neighborhoods may even see declines relative to 2015-2016 values.

Under Missouri law, the assessor's office is required to establish the fair market value of real property each reassessment year (every odd-numbered year). Value is determined by using physical characteristics of the property and also analyzing sales comparison data, income and/or cost approaches to value. Market value is set until the next reassessment cycle.

On July 1, the assessor's office will certify the tax roll, which means that any changes to value can only be made with approval of the St. Louis County Board of Equalization.

Property owners of single-family residences will again have the option to schedule an informal conference with the assessor's office to discuss their preliminary values. Property owners can use this option and will be able to meet one-on-one with an appraiser to have their issues resolved.

To request an appointment for an informal conference, single-family property owners can call: 314-615-4595 starting May 11. Appointments are limited to ensure property owners receive their preferred conference location. They are encouraged to call early.

The conference location for this area's residents will be at 9059 Watson Road in Crestwood. Conferences are scheduled for May 24 through June 2.

Reassessment Protesters

Long-time critics of reassessment practices in St. Louis County include Ron Levy of South County. He is famous for a tall hat made of newspapers that he has worn at protests.

"Property values have been stagnant the last few years, so I retired my hat to a trophy case," said Levy. "I may have to get it out again. I will get it out if enough people are unhappy about property hikes and tax hikes."

Increases in valuation do not always translate into higher real estate taxes. However, tax hike increases are the usual result.

"I will always back the California system," said Levy. "It should be instituted in Missouri. You pay a real estate tax based on the real value of your property when you bought it. And then there is a 2 percent increase in its value every year after that. So, it takes quite a few years before your property doubles in value for tax purposes.

"This saves one helluva' lot of money in appraisers running around, in mailing notices, renting out appeals offices and employing all kinds of bureaucrats to make life miserable," Levy said.

Niehaus was once a member of Tax Relief Now, which has been defunct for more than six years. Webster-Kirkwood residents formed the nucleus of the group which protested the system for reassessment and lobbied politicians on the issue.

"Tax Relief Now did get some results," said Niehaus. "We played a role in getting an elected assessor, rather than an appointed assessor. We got some legislation passed to guarantee a tax rollback by school districts when reassessments went up.

"If the group was revived, I would argue for an end to the two-year cycle which wears everybody down," said Niehaus. "It should be every five years and it should be done statewide, so it is a much fairer system. County suburbs get hurt as it is now. The State Tax Commission should take this over."

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