Documents Shine Some Light on Assessment Process


If you live in Cook County and you’ve ever wondered about the process by which the assessor’s office establishes the taxable value of your home, there’s a good reason. It has not been a particularly transparent process.

Assessor Joseph Berrios has denied requests to make the exact assessment process public, as investigative journalists and analyses by professional and educational groups have revealed wide disparities in the results.

Hand Reviews and “Switched Values” in Entire Neighborhoods

Records recently released as part of the Chicago Tribune’s lawsuit against the assessor’s office, however, shed some light, showing that analysts in that office sometimes used real estate websites like Zillow and Trulia to find a home’s characteristics. In other cases, “aides sometimes switched the values of similar homes in entire neighborhoods,” the Tribune reported, depending, one analyst wrote, “on where our level of assessment is or where we want to be.” Some homes were removed from an initial computer analysis “without a specific set of guidelines” when they were determined to be “outliers” that didn’t follow neighborhood patterns, according to the report.

Berrios, who lost his bid for reelection in the primary earlier this year, recently introduced a new assessment model designed to improve the assessment process. But there is no way to be sure the new method will create fairer results for you. The assessor’s office has not released any specifics around the new model either.

Appeal Your Assessment to be Sure You’re Not Overpaying

The only way to be certain you’re not paying more than your fair share under the new model is exactly the same as the best way to be sure you were not paying too much under the old model: You have to appeal your assessment.

Appealing every year ensures that no matter what method the office is relying on to value or re-value the homes in your neighborhood, your home’s taxable value will be compared to other properties specifically selected to represent the most accurate points of comparison.  At Kensington, we use a proprietary algorithm to determine the most factually based comparable properties in your neighborhood, building a case to support an appeal that is specific to your home.

Contact us for a free analysis of your property tax assessment and we can tell you how much an appeal may save you. If we don’t think you have a strong case for significant savings, we’ll tell you. And you pay nothing unless your appeal is successful. Don’t trust your most important investment to a model that may or may not produce a fair result for you.

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