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Transcript of JoCo on the Go podcast 03/02/2021

Theresa Freed 00:00

Johnson County residents can soon expect to see their notices of appraised value will it be up or down compared to last year? On this episode, hear about residential value trends and what they mean?

Announcer 00:13

Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas, JoCo on the Go has everything Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.

Theresa Freed 00:26

Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go, I'm your host Theresa Freed, a Johnson, County resident and employee of Johnson County government. It's been a strange year for so many reasons. So has the pandemic had any effect on our property values here in Johnson County? To talk more about that I have with me the county appraiser. Thank you for being here.

Beau Boisvert 00:47

Thank you, Theresa. I appreciate the opportunity to speak.

Theresa Freed 00:50

All right, well, starting off, can you just introduce yourself to our listeners?

Beau Boisvert 00:54

My name is Beau Boisvert, the county appraiser for Johnson County. And I've been here for about a year and four months now and doing well. I'm enjoying it.

Theresa Freed 01:04

Alright. Well, you came in, of course at an interesting time. For sure. Well, you know, as I mentioned there, the notices of appraised value are going to be hitting the mailboxes this week. So can you talk a little bit about what that document is?

Beau Boisvert 01:19

Sure, we mail out a paper, it's about an eight and a half by eleven form. And on that form, it gives you your property number, your parcel number that gives the values for 2020. And then the values for 2021. The important values for this notice, are actually the 2021 because they're the ones that are now are effective as of this year, which is going to be utilized for property taxes. Okay, and those went out on March 1, the residential ones were in the mail with the next couple of days, they should be at the doorsteps. The new values, however, for 2021 are already on our website, and are available as of this morning. So they already existed. Somebody wants to take a look prior to the actual receiving that they're able to do so.

Theresa Freed 02:09

All right. And the big question, of course, is what are the trends this year? And I know you talked a little bit about this during the Board of County Commissioners meeting recently. But can you share this with our listeners as well?

Beau Boisvert 02:22

Absolutely. So unlike what many people thought the with the pandemic, a lot of people were talking last April and May that the values are going to be plummeting, for residential properties, that actually did not happen. There actually was an increase of 4.46%. Not a huge increase, but it was still a positive increase. And we have gone through that, analyzed that throughout the whole county, there are some areas that actually did see a reduction, but they're very small areas. Basically, we saw 88% of the residential properties go up with about 62% of those in the one to 4.99% range. So we saw a lot smaller number of properties that went up double digits this year, across the county than we have seen in previous years.

Theresa Freed 03:15

And can you talk about where those areas are at where we will see the most increase?

Beau Boisvert 03:21

The most increases, of course, in the very far, far northeast area DeSoto saw some pretty significant increases. And also down by Edgerton, there are some areas in there. And then the rest of it would be just hit and miss subdivision by subdivision that are unique.

Theresa Freed 03:37

So what are some of the factors that go into those values? I know, you know, there's there's a big focus on those. They're really important for a lot of reasons. But can you tell me how those are determined?

Beau Boisvert 03:51

Well, we look at the key physical attributes of the property. So for land it's the land size, it's going to be you know, what type of characteristics are associated with the land? In terms of the improvement, we're looking at square footage, we're looking at age of the structure, we're looking at bedroom count, bathroom counts, you're looking at attached detached garages, how large are the garages, are they one single, single, double, triple? Those are the some of the key factors that we look at. And then of course, the quality of the construction that was used by that builder.

Theresa Freed 04:31

And then another question we often get is, is how are you making those values? Is it based on you know, eyes on structures, or is it based on just historical data or how do you actually evaluate those things that you're talking about?

Beau Boisvert 04:49

Well, every property that sells we physically inspect those. We also review 17% of all properties, residentially every year. So after a six year cycle we've reviewed every property at least once. Now that review could be on the ground, physically looking at it, or it could be using the aerials that we have, that are very accurate and easy to view and see changes that have occurred to the physical structure of the other buildings. And then of course permits is another factor that goes into play, if they're doing a permit in the remodeling part of their house, or they're making an addition. Those are all key factors we look at in looking at what we need to to consider in establishing those values.

Theresa Freed 05:34

So I know a lot of people, myself included, took advantage of the low interest rates and refinanced. And I was really surprised at how much more value there was in my home this year, especially during these challenging times are refinances refinancing, is that calculated in there as well, since they are doing some sort of assessment of your the value of your home?

Beau Boisvert 05:59

No, we actually, under under for appraisal methodology, we're looking at the sales comparison approach. So we're looking at the properties and actions sold. And then extrapolating out, the components are the variables that affected that sale, and then utilizing those factors to adjust the values of the properties that didn't sell. So if you refinance, we don't take that into consideration. We're really looking at the sales that occurred.

Theresa Freed 06:29

And I know we've talked about this in the past, but there are some, you know, improvements that you can make on your house that it can actually cause the value of your home to go down. Is that right? Or, you know, changes that you make to your to your property? Or does it always go up when when you make improvements,

Beau Boisvert 06:47

The market will tell I mean, I like to use the swimming pool, as a really good example. You can put a 20 to $30,000 swimming pool in your backyard. But that doesn't mean your property is going to go up by 20 or $30,000. The market will tell us how much of that value is actually added to the market. sellable price. So a lot of times in a pool, it could be anywhere from four to $6,000, that it may actually increase the value of the home. But dollar for dollar improving your property to $1 for dollar increasing your value.

Theresa Freed 07:25

All right, gotcha. Well, I know. There's lots of discussion, it's always ongoing about the affordability of actually living in Johnson County. And that's not something that you can you can necessarily help. So can you talk a little bit about how the process there are some safeguards to ensure it's, it's fair, and it's appropriate when you guys make your assessments?

Beau Boisvert 07:50

Sure, we have to follow the Kansas State sales ratio study. So when we're valuing a group of properties, we are looking for what we consider the median value of the homes that we're evaluating in that group based on the sales, we then when we finish our values need to have those properties within 92 or 90 to 110% of that median value. So think of it like a bell curve, you have a bell curve, at the middle is your median number. So we need to have all the properties 10% within 10%, higher, or 10%, lower of that median number, no two properties are going to come out exactly the same dollar per square foot, because each property has its own uniqueness either in land characteristics, or in the actual physical structure or variables of their home. But we're looking for a grouping that makes the valuations fair and equitable within that particular area, or that or that market area.

Theresa Freed 08:54

And I just wanted to get your opinion to about the pandemic. Were you shocked at what you saw with with the valuations and and how has the pandemic impacted the way that your office has done its work.

Beau Boisvert 09:08

Um, I, I will say I was a little bit surprised. Because when April hit, May hit and we were basically, you know, in very limited access for people moving around and getting around and doing things. Nobody knew what was going to happen. Nobody knew the long term effects of, of what COVID-19 was going to mean to the economy as a whole, not just in the residential market, but as a whole? However, if you look at the history of the sales, our sales were down during those April, May and part of March, but when July, August, September through December, our sales actually increased significantly above the sales for those same months in the year 2020 or in 2019 and in 2018. So even though we had that downward feeling of the market was going to go south, it never really did go south. It just dipped, and then came back and came back fairly strong. We ended up with 18,000 sales, questionnaires or transactions that occurred over this last year, that's the highest in a 10 year cycle that we've seen. So what I thought was going to happen and what a lot of people thought was going to happen, really didn't happen. We had growth. Now granted, it wasn't as much growth as we've seen the last, you know, three or four years in the six, five and a half, six, six and a half percent range. But 4.46% is still a sound increase. It's not huge, but it's still solid growth that did occur.

Theresa Freed 10:54

Can you talk about because this is always an issue of confusion about property taxes versus the appraised value?

Beau Boisvert 11:01

Valuation, appraised value, is what we set as the market value. From that value, residentially we, let's say it's a $100,000 property value, we only put on 11.1% of that is what is calculated and becomes the assessed value. So that's only going to be $11,100, that assessed value is what's used to determine the taxes that are going to be applied. Now, it's like a teeter totter. So when the values go up, in theory, if nothing changes in government, they change nothing in terms of their budget, change nothing in terms of their expenses, then the rate would go down, the mill levy would go down, and the taxes would be the same. So what happens though, is is ours goes up. A lot of times, there's new projects or, or a new requirement of from the state by legislature, things that this county has to do or that city, and so their tax rate may go up. But it won't go up that drastically if the value goes up a significant amount. So it's kind of think of it as a teeter totter. It's a balancing concept as relates to what one does, the other one adjusts accordingly. But in many cases, even though our values go up to meet the law, there are a lot of times the taxes will go up too. But think of it this way, the taxes could have gone up even more if the tax if that value hadn't gone up, and basically confined the amount that would have to go up to cover the services.

Theresa Freed 12:45

Well, another important note is people may disagree with with the values they that they have. And so how do they go about appealing? What they're seeing?

Beau Boisvert 12:59

Well, on the backside of their notice is an appeal form or at the bottom of it, depending on what they got, they can fill that out, and then add any additional documentation to it. And they can either mail that into us. They can also online and our webpage actually electronically file an appeal and attach and documents like you would on a Word document to it and send it to us electronically. And then we will then get it in our office in that same timeframe. The third option we added this year is you could, the public has always been able to bring in and hand us documentation. But with COVID. And for efficiency purposes, we've actually now added a mailbox, out front. And the loading dock area, which is when you're coming into the main entrance, off of Sunset, you turn left you go down and it'll be on the right hand side, there will be an actual mailbox that you would see similar to a post office mailbox. And you can drop your information in there. It's locked and secured. And then my staff goes out periodically, every day, picks up whatever's in there, brings it into the office, and then we'll actually put your information with your appeal form.

Theresa Freed 14:18

All right, and you guys are very reasonable people and sometimes those valuations get changed or adjusted based on the information that's submitted. Can you talk about that? Sure.

Beau Boisvert 14:28

So over the last three years, I've looked back at the history of it, we've historically reduced 50% of the residential appeals that have come in, because in mass appraisal, which is what we do, there will be some statistical anomalies that affect the overall final number. So the appeal process is for us to correct anything on record that we have incorrect so we can then calculate the right number or the best number. And so that happens That's an important part of it is the property owners have a right to do that when they come in. And but you know, we're holding pretty close to 50% every year, which is what I expect, as as a county appraiser to happen is those who do feel they have problems or issues with theirs, they should be coming in and having us review it, make sure our information is correct.

Theresa Freed 15:22

All right, good information. You know, I love going to your website, because there's just tons of good information as a property owner on, you know, things that you can very easily access. And you guys have made some great improvements over the recent years to make even more information available electronically, so that people don't have to go in and submit a request to see this or that. Can you talk about some of those great features on the website, and where people go to get that information.

Beau Boisvert 15:51

So if they log in at jocogov.org, and go to the upper right hand corner, there's a list of names, one of them is departments. So if you click on that, you actually can then get the individual websites for every department within the county. And of course, your appraiser is in that group. So they can just click on the appraiser one, and they're going to get our main screen. And from that screen, there's a whole list of options down the left hand side there all in green, they can click on those, if they're looking for forms, or they're looking for information, they can look down that list. If they're looking for specific data as relates to the values that we just give, they go to the bottom of that page, and there's a number of reports down there that they're able to look at, as it relates to our property. And then on the right hand side, we just have other general information. And also there's a picture of the new mailbox for for dropping off your appeal information, as well to give somebody more clarity as to where to find it. So it's a pretty easy one step, two step, three step, click process to get information from our office.

Theresa Freed 17:00

And you guys even have a really great explainer video there on that that first page to let people know how appraisals work, if you didn't get enough information on this episode here today. So yeah, great information. And we'll of course, have a link to that website. in the show notes of this episode. Well, any other additional information you'd like to share with our listeners about appraisals,

Beau Boisvert 17:21

Actually I would so on the appeal process, we actually have a couple of ways in which you can, when you file your appeal, you can either file appeal for an in person hearing, if you'd like to meet with the appraiser for your immediate area. Or you can have file for what we call our heard on the record appeal, which means you turn everything in, we review it all in detail, and then we send back an answer as to what our position is. And the other one is, of course, the phone call, which is very popular, where they would want a meeting. But instead of coming down to our location, they want to just do it over the telephone. So they can do that. And we are going to be doing two or three nights a week, we have canceled our Saturday meetings because the last couple years, the numbers have gone down and actually it is costing us more money to have people here with people aren't showing up or not available. And so because that number has been going down, that indicates to me that there's a less interest on the Saturday. So we're just going to cancel that but we have the evenings as available to make up for because we do know some people want to talk and can't talk at work. So the evenings they can set one up and we'll be glad to talk with them then or they can come in if they'd like to.

Theresa Freed 18:41

Alright, so bottom line, keep an eye out for your value, your notice of appraised value in your mailbox this week. And if you have any questions about it or concerns about it, you can always go to the website to learn more about that process of appealing so. All right. Well, thank you so much for being with us today. A lot of great information I think will be useful for our listeners.

Beau Boisvert 19:03

Well, you're welcome Theresa. Thank you and public, if you have questions, please by all means contact us.

Announcer 19:09

You just heard JoCo on the Go. Join us next time for more everything Johnson County. Have a topic you want to discuss? We want to hear from you. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at JoCoGov. For more on this podcast, visit jocogov.org/podcast. Thanks for listening.