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Assessor Berrios’ Final Shot? North Side Property Values Skyrocket

August 7, 2018

Skyrocketing “estimated fair market value” of homes, condominiums and small apartment buildings in 2018 is causing reassessment sticker shock for tens of thousands of property owners on Chicago’s North Side and Northwest Side.
 

Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios currently is mailing reassessment notices to all Chicago property owners, townships by township. The notices reflect increases in market value of most homes.

 

 

Critics say Berrios is raising the estimated fair market value of some properties from 20% to more than 100% in Lakeview and Jefferson townships as a parting shot after he lost his re-election campaign in March to challenger Fritz Kaegi of Oak Park.
 

Tom Shaer, Berrios’ spokesman, said the higher estimated market values reflect a healthier real estate market following the Great Recession, “the worst housing crash in history.” Earlier this spring, Shaer said it is “complete nonsense” that politics played any role in the assessor’s handing out higher estimates on market value.   
 

The lofty market-value increases translate into sharply higher assessed values. And, that could spark some mind-bending real estate tax hikes when bills arrive in 2019, analysts say.
 

In Chicago, the 2018 expected property tax bill increases will come due in August of 2019, when the second installment of the bill arrives.
 

Many North Side apartment building owners are planning hefty rent increases next year to pay the expected sharply higher 2018 tax bills, experts say.
 

In 2018, the entire City of Chicago was reassessed. For many of the properties the assessments have increases ranging from a manageable 12% to a whopping 112%, according to a spot survey by The Home Front column.
 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the city needs to raise hundreds of millions in new revenue to pay for pension shortfalls for teachers, police and firefighters. However, crystal-ball gazing into the outlook for the expected 2018 property tax hike, payable in 2019 is cloudy, experts say.
 

“The property tax bill is determined by four factors: the assessment, the equalization factor, or ‘multiplier,’ the tax rate and the exemptions,” said Michael Griffin, a Chicago real estate tax appeal attorney. “In 2018, a triennial tax-assessment year in Chicago, homeowners should appeal their assessment because they are likely to see a new higher assessment.”
 

Homeowners also should review their exemptions because they can reduce their tax bill if they have the proper exemptions, Griffin noted. The three main exemptions are the Homeowner’s, Senior Citizen, and Senior Freeze.
 

The Homeowner’s exemption recently was increased to $10,000 from $7,000, and the Senior Exemption was hiked to $8,000 from $5,000. Those amounts are deducted from equalized assessed value of a home to which tax rates are applied to determine individual tax bills.
 

Also, more seniors are qualified for the Senior Freeze because the Illinois Legislature increased the maximum annual income to receive the freeze to less than $65,000 from less than $55,000.
 

“Every homeowner should review their last tax bill to see if they received the proper exemptions and contact the assessor if the exemptions are wrong,” Griffin advised.
Real estate taxes for 2018 are expected to rise when paid in 2019. However predicting a hefty property tax increase next year really centers on two wild cards—the tax rate and the state equalization factor, which can’t be challenged by taxpayers.

 

The equalization factor, or “multiplier,” is established each year for Cook County to bring property tax assessments in line with other parts of Illinois. The value is determined by the Illinois Department of Revenue. The multiplier was pegged at 2.9627 in 2017, up from 2.8032 in 2016.
 

When real estate values sank in 2008 during the Great Recession, the multiplier skyrocketed to 2.9786, and then peaked at 3.3701 in 2009. It hovered at a lofty 3.3 in 2010 before slipping to 2.8056 in 2012 as the real estate market started to recover.
 

The main engine that drives up property tax bills is the amount of money spent by local government. For example, homeowners who read their 2017 tax bills will see the continued increased spending for schools and police, firefighter and teacher pensions.
 

Chicago’s 2017 tax rate rose slightly to $7.266 per $100 of assessed valuation up from $7.169 per $100 of assessed valuation in 2016.
 

“The 2017 tax rate in Chicago was higher, and so was the state equalization factor,” noted Griffin. “With the sharply higher 2018 assessments in the city, the multiplier and the tax rate should go down if the amount of money that local governments request remains the same as last year.”
 

Griffin said other problem is that the assessment increases vary from small to large for Chicago homeowners, “so everyone should appeal their assessment to reduce the assessment increase to as small a level as possible.”
 

An informal survey by The Home Front column revealed the following assessment increases for homes, condos and small apartments on Chicago’s North and Northwest sides:
 

• Irving Park. The assessor said the 2018 estimated market value on a red brick 6-flat in the Old Irving Park neighborhood skyrocketed an incredible 112% to $949,190 from $448,350. The assessed value of the building jumped to $94,919 from $44,835. Paid in 2017, the 2016 tax bill on the property was $9,015.
 

• The Villa. The 2018 estimated market value on a vintage stucco home in the Villa Historic District near Addison Street and Pulaski Avenue shot up 81% percent to $625,000 from $346,020. The assessed value of the home jumped to $62,500 from $34,602.
 

• Ravenswood Manor. The assessor said the 2018 estimated market value on a vintage red brick 2-flat in the Ravenswood Manor neighborhood catapulted 79.7% to $549,640 from $305,890. The assessed valuation of the building jumped to $54,964 from $30,589. Paid in 2017, the 2016 tax bill on the property was $5,645.
 

• Ravenswood. The 2018 estimated market value on a vintage graystone 3-flat in the Ravenswood section of Lakeview jumped 71% to $524,970 from $307,030. The assessed valuation of the building rose to $52,497 from $30,703. Paid in 2017, the 2016 tax bill on the property was $7,310.
 

• Norwood Park. The assessor said the 2018 estimated market value on a large brick home in the Old Norwood Park enclave on the Far Northwest Side skyrocketed 68.2% to $781,380 from $464,600. The assessed valuation of the home jumped to $78,138 from $46,460. Paid in 2017, the 2016 tax bill on the property was $9,023.
 

• North Lincoln Square. The 2018 estimated market value on a 1920s yellow brick 4-flat in the Arcadia Terrace section of the neighborhood increased 40.67% to $506,580 from $360,100. The assessed valuation of the building rose to $50,658 from $36,010. Paid in 2017, the 2016 tax bill on the property was $7,463.
 

• West Ridge. The assessor said the 2018 estimated market value on a 2-bedroom, 1-bath condominium on the Far North Side increased 19.9% to $128,640 from $107,210. The assessed valuation of the condo jumped to $12,864 from $10,721. Paid in 2017, the 2016 tax bill on the property was $1,647.
 

• North Park. The 2018 estimated market value on a newer frame home in the North Park-Hollywood Park neighborhood on the Northwest Side rose a modest 12.46% to $588,190 from $523,010. The assessed valuation of the home increased to $58,819 from $52,301. Paid in 2017, the 2016 tax bill on the property was $9,650.
 

Experts say property owners who think they are over assessed should appeal now before they receive next year’s tax bill. If they wait until the tax bill arrives in 2019, it will be too late to appeal.
 

Visit the assessor’s website: www.cookcountyassessor.com, or call 312-443-7550 to find comparable properties or start the appeal process. Here are the deadlines for filing appeals at the assessor’s office for various townships: Jefferson, August 16th, West, August 24th, Lake, August 30th, North, September 14th and South, October 5th. Deadlines for filing already have passed for Rogers Park and Hyde Park townships.  
 

If appealing at the assessor’s office does not lower the assessed value, there are two other appeal options: the Cook County Board of Review (312-603-5542) or www.cookcountyboardofreview.com, and the Illinois Property Tax Appeals Board (217-785-6076), or www.ptab.illinois.gov. Or, call Michael Griffin, an expert tax assessment lawyer, at 312-943-1789.
 

For more housing news, visit www.dondebat.biz. Don DeBat is co-author of “Escaping Condo Jail,” the ultimate survival guide for condominium living. Visit www.escapingcondojail.com.
 

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“The book is Escaping Condo Jail by Sara Benson and Don DeBat. I would say that anybody thinking about buying a condo, or even anybody serving on a condo board, or anybody who has any connection to a condo, this is must reading—all 600 and something pages. Thanks a lot for a great book!”

 

Steve Sanders, “Your Money Matters” WGN TV, December 22, 2014

By Don DeBat

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