Property Values Up in Polk County, Here’s What Homeowners Should Know

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DES MOINES, Iowa — In March, Des Moines voters overwhelmingly approved a sales tax increase in exchange for a property tax cut. Now, due to increased property assessments, the tax savings likely won’t be as high as expected.

The new assessments showed up in mailboxes across Polk County this weekend. Most homeowners saw their property values jump by more than 10 percent.

Royce Johns is a young homeowner in Elkhart and just saw his property value jump $30,000 and his taxes will likely go up with it.

“It is scary because it’s like, even if I pay my house off, what if I’m paying $300 a month in property tax someday, even if I do own my home? That’s the part I don’t dig,” said Johns.

Johns says he knew something like this was coming. Back in 2017, the home was valued at $96,000, but he bought it for $126,000.

“Obviously, it’s like, ‘oh wow, why am I paying that?’ but that’s what you bought it for so how can you argue with them?” said Johns.

Polk County Assessor Randy Ripperger says not everyone has been as even-keeled as Johns.

“Usually when we do reassessments like this, people get angry, they’re upset, they’re shocked, they’re frustrated, they got all kinds of emotions they go through. I try to stay off of social media,” said Ripperger.

Ripperger’s office has to reassess home value every odd year, and he says the last two years have been seller’s markets; meaning homes are worth more.

“Properties were selling for about 11 to 12 percent higher than what we had them assessed at, so we have to adjust our values to reflect that,” he said.

Realtors say that people living in affordable homes, like Johns, will be more impacted by the seller’s market.

“We see that lower price range turn over and move really, really fast, which obviously tells us we have low supply and high demand for those properties. So, I think that has an impact on the market values and in turn the assessed values,” said Megan Mitchum of Century 21 Real Estate.

However, just because your value goes up 10 percent, it doesn’t mean your taxes will go up the same amount.

“The taxes on these new assessments will not be determined until early next year when your schools, your city, and your counties set their budgets. If they set their budgets where they have a lot more revenue demand, then your taxes will probably go up. So, if you’re really concerned about your rising property taxes you should get involved and start participating in the budget process,” said Ripperger.

If you are upset over the new value of the property, you can contest it with the assessor’s office. They estimate around 9,000 people will contest their assessment, and about half will get some sort of relief.

Part of that has to do with the fact that in addition to individual appraisals the assessor’s office uses a mass appraisal system to help come up with the final number.

You can reach the assessor’s web page here.

Homeowners won’t feel the effect of the increased property values until next year. The tax will be reflected in payments due in September of 2020 and March of 2021. The sales tax hike will come much sooner. Everyone will pay the additional penny starting July 1.

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