At the same time we were studying how our real estate taxes had increased 42% in the 11 years since we moved into Concord Township, our friend and excellent real estate agent that we have used many times over the years (Bettie Schmikla of Re Max Results), gave us an unsolicited suggestion to ask for a reduction in our real estate taxes. That started us on this journey, and we thought that perhaps others could benefit from our experience.
All requests for a revaluation of property values are handled by the Lake County Auditor’s Office, and specifically the Board of Revisions, currently on the second floor of the County office building in Painesville.
There is a form that you need to complete called a “Complaint Against the Valuation of Real Property” (Form #DTE Form 1). There is a specific time period in which you can file this form – January 1st – March 31st. To avoid confusion, and extra work for everyone the forms are not available on-line after March 31st.
Please be advised that the Complaint Against Value Form (DTE1) is only available during the filing period of January 1 through March 31 of each year.
Here is the DTE form and the instructions:
- Before you start filling out forms, you must first decide if you are going to attempt this effort on your own, or should you hire an expert appraiser to “clear the hurdles” for you.
After several futile hours of trying to find homes that were comparable to others, I realized that we were opening ourselves up to a huge debate with the Board of Revisions. You will be asked to defend why you believe that the homes you chose are considered “comparable” to your house. It is not enough just to equate square footage of a home. We then decided to ask Bettie who she would recommend as a professional home appraiser. She quickly recommended Al Zehe, a State Certified Real Estate Appraiser. It proved to be invaluable advice, since Mr. Zehe was an acknowledged expert by the gentleman that was in charge of the hearing that we had to plead our case.
We spent $450.00 for our appraisal that was completed within a week. With the appraisal, Mr. Zehe completed the DTE-1 form, and a detailed “Quantitative Analysis Appraisal Report” with colored copies of the homes he used to determine the revised value of our home. It was worth the cost.
We submitted our DTE form on January 10, 2018. We were assigned a case number, and told that we will be contacted later by the Board of Revisions. We received a notice in June that our hearing with the three person board, and the attorney representing the Riverside School Board will on June 22nd. The school board requires their attorney be present when the request for revaluation exceeds $50,000.
I went to the meeting, armed with my professional appraisal, and my knowledge of what is happening to real estate taxes in Lake County. There was a representative from the Commissioners’ office, the Auditor’s office and the Treasurer’s office and the attorney for the school board. I was asked to take an oath to tell the truth. (Side Note: I found it curious that all I had to do was raise my right hand without my left hand on the Bible). I asked why the lawyer did not have to take the oath, and was told that since he was an attorney he did not have to since, I guess, he is licensed by the State.
I was asked why I felt that I was entitled to the reduction in real estate taxes, and I told them that I had a professional appraisal on the property by Mr. Zehe. The board leader said that he had previously seen Mr. Zehe’s work and acknowledged his credentials.
The attorney wanted to be able to ask Mr. Zehe why he chose the specific properties. I said: “Well, he is not available, and the board had already acknowledged his credentials as a certified appraiser”.
I then went into a discussion that I have been preaching for some time now throughout Lake County. “If we stay on our current path of ever increasing real estate taxes, we will price seniors and those living on fixed incomes out of their homes that they have worked all their lives to achieve.” I could tell from the body language of the three board members that they knew I was right.” Even the loquacious attorney said nothing! I then politely said that they may wish to read the article that I wrote for the News-Herald regarding real estate taxes. They said that they would look for it.
- Word of advice – do not ever be intimidated by boards when you have done your due diligence.
We received a reply from the County Auditor’s office on June 25th, granting our full request for the revaluation of our home. Net tax reduction of $1,154 per year ~10.7%
We sincerely hope this helps someone in Lake County fight these oppressive real estate taxes that will continue to increase unless taxpayers start to vote down levies.