DES MOINES, Iowa — The man with the most talked-about job in the state right now might just be Polk County Assessor, Randy Ripperger. His office sent out over 180,000 new home assessments last week and the new assessed values are shocking homeowners.
Ripperger understands why people are shocked. Home values in Polk County have risen more than twice as much as they do in a typical assessment year — they’re up an average of 22%. That’s because, since the last assessment, we’ve had one of the greatest “seller’s markets” of all time. You heard the stories: homes selling immediately — often for more than their asking prices and for much higher than their assessed values.
That’s a problem.
“Prior to our assessment in ’23,” Ripperger says, “houses were selling for about 25% more than what we’d had them assessed at so we have to get that number up closer to the 100% level.”
The assessed value of our homes and land is what determines our property tax, and those pay for our schools and public services. It’s worth noting that sometimes those values do go down, and so do our property taxes. That was the case in 2011 (down 5%) and 2013 (down 3%). In an any year, you can protest your new assessment. You can see how to do that on your county assessor’s page and typically about 50% of those who *do protest have their values reduced at least a bit.
But, you need to do your homework.
“Gather your evidence,” Ripperger says, “there are five grounds you can appeal on — one of them is NOT ‘my taxes are too high.’ Because that’s what the board of review hears all the time. That’s not an acceptable ground of protest. All of our taxes are too high,” he laughs.
Find five other homes in your area that you believe are worth more than yours and yet are assessed at less. List those on the protest petition and send it in this month. The review board gets started May 1st and they expect to see more than 10,000 protests. That will be a record.