Listing discrepancies create significant errors in property assessments

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 6:51 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Max Hilton’s basement isn’t finished, but the listing used to assess the property in North Liberty said the basement was finished for years.

The discrepancy created a higher property assessment. Two different assessors, who oversee assessments in Johnson County and the City of Cedar Rapids, said the situation Hilton faced isn’t unusual.

City of Cedar Rapids Assessor Julie Carson said the problem could come from construction projects not being completed after a building permit is filed with a government agency. She said she welcomes people to check to see if their office has the correct listing because it prioritizes accuracy.

“Our values are only as good as our listing,” Carson said. “If our listing is incorrect chances are our value is going to be incorrect. So we would love to take that opportunity to make sure the overall listing, the pricing level, the condition, the amount of amenities, etc is what is actually there,”

Johnson County Tom Van Buer also said the discrepancy isn’t unusual in an email, especially during the informal appeal time frame in April. He also said his office also wants the correct information, so it’s always willing to make changes if a listing is incorrect.

“We encourage people to review their listing on our Beacon site to ensure we have their information correct,” Van Buer said.

Property assessments increased by about 20% this year. Amid those increases, hundreds of people across eastern Iowa appealed their assessment in April.

Hilton said he only checked after his property assessment increased by $100,000. He said his property assessment decreased by about $50,000, but was originally concerned an inspection would only increase the value,

“You just don’t think about checking it,” Hilton said. “You don’t think about it. You don’t want to call the property tax people to go ‘hey are my property taxes high enough?’”