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  • Dave Norris

Myths and Facts of Property Taxes

Local REALTORS® are usually very tuned in to the information we can access on-line to help you find a home or sell your home. Along with the local Multiple Listing Service, we also rely on other information coming from public records, taxing authorities, etc.

I, for one, rely heavily upon the information provided by the Stark County Auditor, Alan Harold, and the website provided. I help an appraiser in my office weekly prepare his appraisal reports and access numerous county auditor sites in that preparation. I am pleased to say that Stark County’s website is by far the best I’ve accessed, with the most information and the easiest to use. That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact! Kudos, Mr. Alan, to your efforts to keep us moving forward in the 21st century.

However, even I had some questions as to how our tax valuations are determined, so I called the office. I spoke to Jason Frost, the Chief Deputy of Real Estate in the auditor’s office. Mr. Frost told me that our last reassessment of value took place in 2015, which will affect the taxes we pay in 2016. The next reappraisal will be conducted for 2018, which will affect the taxes we pay in 2019.

I also asked about the process to determine actual valuation. He reported that they use a “mass appraisal model,” in which amenities of properties are assigned values, such as square footage, lot size, etc. These formulas use recent “arms length sales” information to determine the values given. Also, every “arms length sale” is reviewed on our local MLS (if it was listed) for amenities to verify information on the current tax record, such as bedroom/bath count, if there’s a finished room in the basement that’s not appearing, etc. If the sale is representative of the market, the information from that sale can be used in the “mass appraisal model.” Many of my clients are under the impression that their tax value is automatically changed to reflect what they paid for the home. Mr. Frost stated that is called “sales substitution” and is done in some states but not in Ohio.

All parcels are assigned a valuation for the buildings and the land and then taxed on 35% of the total. Also, some properties have “homestead exemption” discounts if the property owner qualifies due to age and/or disabilities (along with other factors). If the home you are purchasing has this discount, your total tax will most likely be higher without this discount factored in, unless you also apply and qualify for the discount. So make sure to be aware of this possibility. Also, review your tax records to make sure all improvements are listed or old improvements are removed. I once purchased a property that was being taxed for a garage that had been removed years before and reported the discrepancy so my value could be adjusted down.

If you’ve never visited the county auditor’s website, please do so at starkcountyohio.gov. There’s a wealth of information to access and instructions on how to apply for the homestead exemption, how to dispute your tax valuation, etc. You can see a map of your property and neighborhood, get lot size dimensions, see what the prior sales price was, and so much more!

And remember…ALL real estate is local! Make sure your REALTOR® is a member of the Stark County Association of REALTORS®!

As appearing in the Canton Repository 8-26-16

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