Real estate sales in Cook County have been declining steadily since 2007. Recent figures from the Cook County Assessor’s Office show a four year drop of 60% in both the number of sales and the total dollar amount. In 2007 there were 414 sales in Cook County, totaling $80.3 million. In comparison, recent sales figures show a total of 169 sales for $31 million. The county assessor’s office is currently analyzing the recent figures to determine 2010 property values. Property taxes for 2011 will be based on these valuations. Mary Black is Cook County Assessor.
“We’ve seen a real leveling off of our value increases as far as the Assessor’s Office goes,”said Black. “When I first came here, those first few years, we had different market areas seeing a 30% increase in value two or three years in a row. I recall one year, vacant land out, kind of in the rural area saw an increase of 40% in one year. Now those values have leveled off and this will be the third year in a row where we won’t see any increase and depending upon where the property is, there’s a possibility of a slight decrease.”
For the first time in more than a decade, there will be a 5% across the board decrease in the land cost tables, says Black, which could lower some property valuations, depending on the type of structures that are on the property. The process of assessing property values can sometimes be confusing to property owners, she says, because the sales figures used to determine values are from sales study periods that occurred up to two years prior.
“So, for example, for assessment year 2010, we’re using sales that occurred from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009. And we change our values based on what a property sells for compared to, what do we have it valued for. So it’s a ratio of, take what our assessed value is or our estimated market value is and divide it by the sales price to get a ratio. And we are required to be within 90 to 105% in different market areas. And if we’re not, that’s when we have to adjust our values.”
Black says that values are adjusted based only on sales in Cook County, and that her office generally doesn’t adjust values unless there have been six or more sales in a given market area during the previous sales study year. However, property owners do have opportunities to contest the assessed values.
“What you will get first, comes from our office, which is a notice a valuation and classification. Which states, this is the value we’ve placed on your property for 2010, for assessment year 2010. Then, what occurs after that is you can, if you have an issue, you can contest that value, either through a local board of equalization, an open book meeting that we have, that will be printed on those valuation notices. If you’re not satisfied at those meetings, then you can go before the county board of equalization, which will happen in June. And then after the county board, if you’re still not satisfied, then your recourse is to go to tax court.”
The Assessor’s Office is currently mailing out the 2010 notices of valuation and classification, on which 2011 property taxes will be based. Local boards of appeal and equalization will be meeting in the coming months to give property owners an opportunity to challenge the assessed values. For more information, call the County Assessor’s office at 387-3650.