Frequently Asked Questions
What is Market Value?
Market value of a property is an estimate of the price that it would sell for on the open market on the first day of January of the year of assessment. This is sometimes referred to as the "arms length transaction" or "willing buyer/willing seller" concept.
Why did my property go up when I didn't do anything to it?
While making changes to a property can increase the value of that individual property, the sales information from a jurisdiction indicates what trends occurred in the market as a whole. Since the assessor is required to be at market value on a property, if the market indicates that housing prices have increased, it is likely that most properties would have to increase.
What happens if the market goes down?
The assessor must value according to the sales of the prior year. We are not predicting the future, only responding to the prices that buyers paid to sellers. So if the market decreases, we will follow the market when we revalue property.
The market is just up because of inflation
We are required to follow the market, regardless of what caused the changes in the market. We follow the market transactions that buyer/sellers are making. The buyer and sellers determination of what a fair price was, dictates the market. If it becomes a deflated market we would follow that as well.
There is no way my house is worth $XXX.
The market has increased dramatically in the past 2, and often 4 years. Why do you feel the value is incorrect? Are there listing errors? Do you have sales information for us to review? Do you have a 2022 fee appraisal to submit to us? The value going up too much is not an argument.
My house went up 30%! Will my taxes go up 30%?
The entire state has seen dramatic increases in the real estate market over the last 2 years. The total taxable vlaue for a classification, such as residential, can only increase 3% statewide. In the fall of this year, the Iowa Department of Revenue will determin what percentage of the assessed value is taxable. Ultimately, we do not know how an individual's taxes will be affected as we do not know the tax levy, the special projects, the state rollback, or legislative changes that will take place.
Residential: Since the entire state has seen increases in the residential market, the amount of your value, which can be taxed should decrease to offset some of the increase. For 2022 values, approximately 55% of the assessed value will be taxable. For 2023, due to the increases across the state that number will decrease.
AG: Since the entire state has seen increases in the assessed value of agricultural properties, the amount of your value which can be taxed should decrease to offset some of the increase. For 2022 values, approximately 91% of the assessed value will be taxable. For 2023, due to the increases across the state that number will decrease. Historically, we saw the reverse of this during the revaluation of 2019. The assessed value decreased drastically but taxes did not decrease as the state increased the rollback so a higher percentage of the assessed value was taxable. The reverse will happen for 2023.
Why did my house go up more than my neighbor/brother/cousin's house?
An assessor uses the information from the sales in their jurisdiction to determine changes. This often means the entire class of property will need to increase a certain amount, but the assessor also looks at other information from those sales and applies that infromation to their mass appraisal system. One area of town may have had sales that showed they required a greater increase than other areas. For example, old but well maintained or remodeled 2 story houses may have sold stronger than ranch homes built in the 1970's when compared to their assessed value. The assessor applies the information they gather from the sales data to make the valuation decision.
How does the Assessor estimate Market Value?
To estimate the market value of your property, the Assessor generally uses three approaches:
- The first approach is to find properties that are comparable to yours which have sold recently. Local conditions peculiar to your property are taken into consideration. The Assessor also uses sales ratio studies to determine the general level of assessment in a community in order to adjust for local conditions. This method is generally referred to as the Market Approach and is usually considered the most important in determining the value of residential property.
- The second approach is the Cost Approach and is an estimate of how many dollars at current labor and material prices it would take to replace your property with one similar to it. In the event improvement is not new, appropriate amounts for depreciation and obsolescence are deducted from replacement value. Value of the land is added to arrive at an estimate of the total property value.
- The Income Approach is the third method. It is used if your property produces income such as an apartment or office building. In that case, your property could be valued according to its ability to produce income under prudent management. In other words, the amount another investor would give for your property in order to gain its income. The income approach is the most complex of the three approaches because of the research, information and analysis necessary for an accurate estimate of value. This method requires thorough knowledge of local and national financial conditions, as well as any developmental trends in the area of the subject property being appraised since errors or inaccurate information can seriously affect the final estimate of value.
Why did my property go up when I didn't sell or buy it?
Sales from the jurisdiction are used to determine the total value that is required for an entire classification. In order to reach the total value, most properties will see valuation changes based off of the Median sales number.
You've never been at market value, why are you now? AKA You're supposed to be at 50% etc
Since 1975 assessments have been at market value by Iowa Code. In a mass appraisal system, it is certainly possible that an individual property may have been assessed too low or too high. What matters right now is, are we at market value on your property for 2023? If not, what is the proof.
Who should I contact if I desire further information or if I have questions concerning property values or other related information?
If you desire further information, questions concerning property values or other information relating thereto should be addressed to the Assessor's office in the respective jurisdiction and not the Board of Supervisors or Treasurer.
Why does value change?
State law requires that all real property be reassessed every two years. The current law requires the reassessment to occur in odd numbered years. Changes in market value as indicated by research, sales ratio studies and analysis of local conditions as well as economic trends both in and outside the construction industry are used in determining your assessment.
What if I disagree with my valuation?
If you disagree with the Assessor's estimate of value, please consider these two questions:
- What is the actual market value of my property?
- How does the value compare to similar properties in the neighborhood?
If you have any questions about the assessment of your property, feel free to come in and discuss it with the Assessor. You may file a written protest with the Board of Review which is composed of three or five members from various areas of the assessing jurisdiction. The Board operates independently of the Assessor's office, and has the power to confirm or to adjust upward or downward any assessment.
If not satisfied with the Board's decision, appeals may be filed with the Property Assessment Appeal Board or to district court within 20 days after adjournment or May 31, whichever date is later.
You can also find more information by visiting the pages below:
How does the exemption for taxpayers 65 or older work?
This exemption is ON TOP OF receiving your yearly homestead credit. It takes $3250 off your taxable value for the 2023 assessment year (taxes payable Sept 2024/March 2025); $6500 off 2024 assessment year (taxes payable Sept 2025/March 2026). After applying, this exemption will stay on for consecutive years- there is no need to re-apply each year.
What do I have to do to get the 65 and older tax exemption?
A new application must be filled out that lists your birthdate on there. The forms are available on this website and also on our Beacon website. You may also stop in our office & we will print the form for you. You only need to file for this ONCE, unless you move.
Do I have to reapply for the increase in the Military exemption?
No. If you have already filed for a military exemption. The increase will be an automatic thing. You do NOT need to reapply.
What is changing with the military exemption?
The exemption amount is increasing from $1852 to $4000.
Where do I go to file for or find out about the Elderly or Disabled Credit?
The Woodbury County Treasurer's office at 822 Douglas St RM 102. 279-6535
When does one begin to pay property taxes?
On values determined as of January First, one does not start to pay taxes until eighteen months later.
What is a roll back percentage and how is it determined?
The "roll back" is the percentage of actual value that is determined by the Director of Revenue and Finance each year on the several classes of property where the total value increase statewide, exceeds four percent for each class of property. The percentage so determined by the Director of Revenue and Finance is certified to and applied by the local county auditor to all property in each class affected throughout the State. Percentages determined by the Director of Revenue and Finance are the same for all the assessing jurisdictions in the State.
If I file an appeal before April 2nd or after April 30th, is it valid?
The answer is NO. The appeal dates are April 2 thru April 30. Appeals emailed or mailed to us before that are considered invalid.
How is agricultural property (except in agricultural dwellings) assessed?
Agricultural property, except agricultural dwellings, are assessed on the basis of productivity and net earning capacity using a five-year crop average and capitalized at a rate set by the Legislature. The rate is currently seven percent. Tentative and final equalization orders are issued by the Director of Revenue and Finance in odd numbered years on or about August 15th, and October 1st respectively. The orders are sent to the various county auditors who apply them to the classes of property affected, if any.
What are the appointment and reappointment qualifications for Assessors and members of the Board of review?
Assessors and members of the Board of Review are appointed to their terms of office. Assessors, in addition to completing the required 150 hours of Continuing Education, must be approved by a majority vote of the Conference Board in order to be reappointed.
Who should I contact if I have questions related to taxes?
Questions relating to taxes should be addressed to the local county treasurer.
What are tax levies?
There are a number of different taxing districts in a jurisdiction, each with a different levy. Each year the County Auditor determines for that district a levy that will yield enough money to pay for schools, police and fire protection, road maintenance and other services budgeted for in the area. The tax levy is applied to each $1,000 of a property's taxable value.
What is the assessed value?
The value determined by the assessor is the assessed value and is the value indicated on the assessment roll.
What is the taxable value?
The taxable value is the value determined by the auditor after application of state ordered "rollback" percentages for the various classes of property and is the value indicated on the tax statement.
Which values should I use when comparing the value of my property with other properties?
When comparing the value of your property with other properties always compare with the value on the assessment roll or the assessor's property record cards and not the value indicated on the tax statement.