By Gary H. Smith
Chicago and Cook County Property Tax Appeal Attorney
If you own property in the city of Chicago, you may get a surprise this year (2015). It might be a good surprise or it might not.
The Cook County Assessor divides the county into three districts (Chicago, Northern Suburbs and Southern Suburbs). Every year, one of the three districts is reassessed. Chicago, this is your year!
In the reassessment year, all properties — private homes, retail stores, apartment buildings, large warehouses and commercial buildings — are reassessed.
That surprise you’ll receive is a reassessment notice.
Every property has a value, which is a combination of the land and all the structures and improvements on the property.
It is the Cook County Assessor’s job to determine the value for every parcel (piece of land) in the county. The values he places on the property are the county’s estimate of that property’s value, as of Jan. 1 of the reassessment year.
In general, as the economy proceeds along its slow and uneven recovery, property values have been going up. In the Chicago area, since 2012, studies indicate that as a general rule, the values of multi-family homes (apartment buildings), office properties and houses are going up. Similarly, the same indicators have generally recorded that the values of industrial and retail properties are down.
It cannot be stressed enough that the rate of change and the changes from one neighborhood to another are not consistent.
The Assessor’s office is not able to give detailed individual attention to every property. Due to the very large number of properties in the county, many properties — particularly private homes — are subject to a mass appraisal system based on a complicated analysis that is not capable of sufficiently evaluating all individual considerations of the property itself.
How does this affect you as a property owner?
Very simply, your new assessment may be unfairly high. Property values in your neighborhood might not be increasing as fast as elsewhere. Occupancy of your commercial building may be down, though citywide occupancy might be up. The particular circumstance about your property that makes it different from the property next door may not be accounted for in the Assessor’s limited records.
Your property needs an advocate.
As of this writing, Rogers Park properties have already received their reassessment notices and most reflect higher values. This office anticipates that most of the assessment notices this year will be higher than the previous assessment notices you have received. The amount of tax you pay is directly related to the amount of your assessment. If your assessment goes up, it’s likely that the amount you owe also will go up.
It may not take an expert to predict that your assessment will be up, but it does take an expert property tax attorney to look at your specific situation.
To ensure that your tax bill represents your fair share of the cost of government, your property needs and deserves individual attention.
When you get this year’s surprise (in the form of a reassessment letter from the Cook County Assessor’s Office), contact me for an analysis.
We will advise you whether an appeal of your assessment is likely to be successful. (We are successful in more than 85 percent of the appeals that we file.)
The Cook County Assessor’s office may be is doing the its best possible job to assess property values fairly. The Law Offices of Gary H. Smith, P.C. serves as your advocate to ensure that all factors affecting your unique, individual property are completely considered.
Contact the Law Offices of Gary H. Smith today for a free consultation and discussion about how to lower your real estate tax bill.