116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Despite disease and a derecho, home values across the Corridor have increased as much as an average 7.5 percent as the real estate market defied early expectations and remained strong.
Local assessors have mailed out notices to thousands of property owners that reveal one of the key factors that figures into how much of a property tax bill they will face. Not every property owner will get a notice - only those whose valuations changed.
The assessed value combines with three other factors to determine an owner's property tax bill: the tax rate that local governments and school districts set every spring; the rollback rate announced by the state that dictates how much of a property's value is subject to taxes; and any exemptions for which a property owner qualifies.
These latest assessments do not affect what property owners will pay in property taxes this coming fiscal year, which starts July 1. That has already been set.
Rather, assessments lag. The taxes associated with these latest assessments are due in September 2022 and March 2023. By then, local governments and school districts will have announced their tax rates and the state will have set the rollback rates.
In Linn County except Cedar Rapids, the value of residential properties assessed has increased at an average of 7.5 percent, according to the Linn County Assessor's Office.
The county office assesses every city in the county except Cedar Rapids, which has its own assessor's office.
Few properties had a smaller increase than average and many properties had double, the valuation notice to owners said. The change is based on 1,534 sales that occurred in 2020.
Linn County Assessor Jerry Witt said he tries to keep the value change as low as possible.
'We try to have our value be at market value,” Witt said. 'We just set them, and we are already falling behind the market with changes and sales we've seen in just two and a half months.”
Witt said he is surprised that the residential market has continued to increase even after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to low mortgage interest rates, reduced inventory and higher sales prices of property, some may see an increase in property tax assessments this year, Witt said.
'When COVID started hitting, I thought the market would start dropping,” Witt said. 'With increases over the last few years, I thought we would at least take a pause. But the demand stayed the same due to low interest rates. And that's not just local. It's statewide and national. Everyone is saying the same thing.”
Though everyone has been trying to cope with the pandemic, not everyone experienced the Aug, 10, 2020, derecho to the same degree.
The cost of building materials already increased due to the pandemic, but locally, the derecho increased costs even more.
'It was tough to find materials and when you did, they were expensive,” Witt said. 'And there weren't enough contractors for all of the demand. All of this pushed values up.”
Multi-residential properties in the county saw an average increase of 14 percent. There were 29 sales in the last two years used for the assessment. Agricultural property received an average increase of 7 percent. Commercial property sales in the county were mostly stable, seeing an average decrease of less than 1 percent.
Any Linn County property owner can request an informal review of the assessment from Friday to April 26. Assessments also can be formally appealed. The Board of Review's filing period is Friday through April 30. Petitions can be obtained at the assessor's office or at linn.iowaassessors.com.
Residential properties in the city that were assessed received an overall median increase of 4.5 percent, according to a news release from the city Assessor's Office.
For commercial properties, that increase is 0.5 percent, and multi-residential properties will see a 14.5 percent increase overall.
Damage stemming from the derecho caused a reduction in value for some properties, City Assessor Julie Carson said. But depending on the area's market value activity, the property owner may still see an increase in the assessment.
After the Assessor's Office has applied an adjustment to a property for derecho-related damage, Caron said the office will review that annually to determine if the adjusted assessment still is needed for 2022. Repairs made after Jan. 1 this year will be reflected in the 2022 assessment.
Residents should submit damage details to the Assessor's Office online.
If property owners believe the assessment does not reflect the market value of their property, contact the Cedar Rapids City Assessor's office. The office will conduct an informal appeal and review period from Friday through April 26.
The form to petition to the Board of Review can be found at cedarrapids.iowaassessors.com or property owners may contact the Assessor's Office at (319) 286-5888 to request the form.
Johnson County and Iowa City
The derecho - which was felt worse outside of Johnson County - will not impact assessments for most residents in the county, assessors said.
'We handled the derecho individually, but did not have many properties that had damages to structures that required value changes,” said Johnson County Assessor Tom Van Buer. 'Most damages were repaired by our Jan. 1 date of assessment.”
The average increase in assessed residential property value was 7 percent across the county, including the cities of Coralville and North Liberty, Van Buer said.
Iowa City Assessor Brad Comer said his office did not make specific adjustments to assessments based on the derecho.
'If the derecho had an impact in Iowa City, it would be reflected in the sale prices,” Comer said. 'Our assessments were adjusted based on how assessments compared with properties that have sold over the past year.”
The average value increase for single family homes in Iowa City was 3.17 percent, Comer said.
Comments: (319) 398-8255; email@example.com
Marissa Payne and Lee Hermiston contributed.