St. Louis County’s preliminary real-estate assessments for 2021 are online for taxpayers

In+a+series+of+public+Board+of+Equalization+hearings+in+Crestwood+July+25%2C+2019%2C+commercial+and+residential+property+owners+try+to+convince+board+members+that+their+properties+are+worth+less+than+originally+assessed.+More+often+than+not%2C+their+bids+to+reverse+the+hike+on+their+properties+were+turned+down%2C+especially+in+cases+where+property+owners+did+not+bring+photo+evidence+to+back+up+their+cases.+Photo+by+Erin+Achenbach.+

Photo by Erin Achenbach

In a series of public Board of Equalization hearings in Crestwood July 25, 2019, commercial and residential property owners try to convince board members that their properties are worth less than originally assessed. More often than not, their bids to reverse the hike on their properties were turned down, especially in cases where property owners did not bring photo evidence to back up their cases. Photo by Erin Achenbach.

Most St. Louis County homeowners can now look up the 2021 assessor’s preliminary value of their property on the county’s website, County Assessor Jake Zimmerman announced Tuesday.

Homeowners can find the preliminary assessments by going to http://revenue.stlouisco.com/ias/. See a full checklist of how to find the assessment at the end of this article.

“This is early data that taxpayers can review now, while there is still time to correct mistakes,” Zimmerman said in a news release. “That’s why I strongly encourage homeowners to take a quick look and make sure we have the right information about your property.”

Zimmerman’s early overall numbers show that home values have largely remained strong through the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared with two years ago, the median increase across the county is about 9 percent. Every property is different and not all homes have increased in value, but most homeowners will find that their property could sell for a higher price today than in 2019, the assessor’s office said.

Houses are reassessed every two years, in odd-numbered years.

Preliminary values for commercial properties will be available online in mid-April.

Said Zimmerman, “As we finally come out of this terrible pandemic, I’m happy to deliver a small piece of good news for County homeowners: the value of your biggest investment  remains strong.”
While the real estate market is doing well throughout the county, home values are especially strong in more affordable neighborhoods, fueled by low interest rates and the demand for quality housing. Zimmerman’s data suggests this is a regional phenomenon; he expects to see similar value changes in neighboring areas like St. Louis city and St. Charles County. For example, Zillow forecasted an average increase of 8.9 percent for the St. Louis region and a federal index of metro area house prices also rose 8.9 percent last year.
“A strong housing market is good news for homeowners, neighborhoods, and the whole community,” Zimmerman said in a news release. “But that also makes it extra important to make sure we’ve got it right.” As Zimmerman put it, “if we’re wrong about the size of your house or the last time you remodeled, that could lead to the wrong value and an unfair tax bill. Our job is to be fair and accurate. So, help us help you. If you see something – say something. No one knows your property better than you.”

To better serve homeowners, Zimmerman plans to implement a new “early review” pilot project this year. The goal is to avoid as many formal appeal hearings as possible this summer.

As Zimmerman explained, “Obviously in the middle of a pandemic, we can’t do interior inspections and in-person conferences like we used to. So, we’ll try to make lemonade out of lemons. If folks reach out to us to talk about their home value, we’re going to ask for the evidence – like photos and comparable sales – up front. The more information we get early, the more time we’ll have to fix mistakes, make adjustments, and help people avoid the need for traditional appeal hearings. This can be a ‘win-win’ for taxpayers and the County.”

Setting property values is just the first step in the property tax process; only after homes are valued can taxing districts set their tax rates. Zimmerman observed: “My job is to estimate your home’s value in the real estate market. Sometimes I feel like the umpire in a baseball game. I have to call the balls and strikes as I see them. Then the school districts, fire districts, and other taxing entities make the most important decision: how much each of us will pay in property taxes.”

Missouri law requires the assessor’s office to establish the fair market value of real property as of Jan. 1 of each reassessment year, which is every odd-numbered year. Those values are based on review by appraisers, physical inspections of thousands of homes and direct input from property owners. By law, the assessor must finalize the tax rolls by July 1. After that, the assessor cannot adjust the tax rolls, and any changes to value can only be made by the St. Louis County Board of Equalization.

Check Preliminary Property Values Online:
Beginning Tuesday, owners of residential property can view their 2021 preliminary values online: http://revenue.stlouisco.com/ias/

Preliminary Commercial property values will be available online in mid-April:
http://revenue.stlouisco.com/ias/

Any property owner who doesn’t have computer or internet access, needs assistance or has questions after reviewing their preliminary value online can contact the assessor’s office at the following times:
Monday – Friday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm:
Residential property owners call: 314-615-4981
Commercial property owners call: 314-615-4984
All preliminary values are subject to change.

Early Review:
Homeowners (owner/occupants) may have an opportunity to have their issues resolved without the need for a formal appeal.
Step 1: Homeowners review the preliminary value online (see above).
Step 2: If a homeowner thinks the county’s records are incorrect, they can submit documents and photos showing the characteristics and condition of their home. Materials can be submitted two ways:
Online: assessor@stlouisco.com
U.S. Mail: Office of the Assessor
County Administration Building
41 South Central Avenue – 3rd Floor
Clayton, MO 63105

Step 3: A real-estate appraiser will review the materials submitted by the homeowner and other information. If the appraiser finds that the preliminary value needs to be changed, the appraiser will contact the homeowner and try to resolve the matter. If they agree, the homeowner and the appraiser will confirm that agreement in writing, electronically, and the home value will be revised accordingly. If the homeowner and the appraiser cannot agree, or if the preliminary review is not completed, the homeowner can appeal to the Board of Equalization beginning May 1.

Early Review will be on a “first come, first served” basis.

Change of Assessment & Projected Tax Liability Notices:
All residential property owners will also receive a Change of Assessment Notice in the mail even if their value has not changed. Residential property owners should expect to receive the Change of Assessment Notice beginning mid-May. Commercial property owners should expect to receive a Change of Assessment Notice by mid-June.

Timeline

March
• Preliminary residential property values are available.
• Early Review begins.
April
• Taxing authorities (such as school districts) submit their projected tax rates to the St. Louis County Collector of Revenue, who then creates the projected Tax Liability Notice
for each property.
May
• Filing Period for Board of Equalization appeals begins May 1

• Change of Assessment and Projected Tax Liability Notices will be mailed to all
residential property owners.
June
• Change of Assessment and Projected Tax Liability Notices will be mailed to all owners of
commercial property.
July
• On July 1, the assessor will certify the 2021 assessment roll containing the assessor’s final values. This date is set by Missouri statute and cannot be changed. Missouri law
prohibits the Assessor from changing property values after July 1.
• Filing Period for Board of Equalization appeals ends July 12