Government & Politics

In a big year for Johnson County home values, half who appealed appraisals win cases

Lonnie Thompson (left) and Ron Fugate are among thousands of Johnson County residents who appealed their appraisals. Fugate was happy with the way his appeal turned out, Thompson less so. They live in similar town homes in the Stoneybrook subdivision in Overland Park.
Lonnie Thompson (left) and Ron Fugate are among thousands of Johnson County residents who appealed their appraisals. Fugate was happy with the way his appeal turned out, Thompson less so. They live in similar town homes in the Stoneybrook subdivision in Overland Park.

About half the Johnson County residents who appealed their county appraisals this year got a reduction on their home values, which can translate into a lower property tax.

The Johnson County appraiser’s office has completed hearing nearly 6,700 residential appeals from the 2018 county appraisals.

That appeal number was up 27 percent over last year, as Johnson County property valuations have spiked by double digits this year, especially in northern Johnson County, where the real estate market is especially robust.

The county mailed out appeal results on May 18, and people should receive those results this week. The county’s property data website has also been updated, so people can check their valuations on the website as well.

In most years, the county adjusts values down for about 40 to 50 percent of the residential property owners who take the time to appeal, including owners of both homes and apartment buildings. This year was on the high end for adjustments.

“It was right at about 50 percent,” said Jeff Ramsey, residential real estate valuation manager with the Johnson County appraiser’s office.

Ramsey didn’t have an average amount of adjustment and said it varied case by case for each of the 6,691 appeals. Overall, the county reduced residential values, including both homes and apartment buildings, by about $16.5 million during the appeals process.

Most of the reductions occurred because homeowners gave county appraisers new and convincing information that the county's value was too high.

“A lot of it was people that were bringing to our attention deferred maintenance, interior conditions,” Ramsey said. “A lot of them were people that came in and said, ‘My house hasn’t been updated.’ ”

For those who didn’t get an adjustment despite an appeal, Ramsey said that was generally because the county had already taken into account the information the homeowners were providing, or the homeowner had just recently purchased the house for an amount similar to the county’s appraisal.

Residents Ron Fugate and Lonnie Thompson are among thousands of Johnson County residents appealing their residential appraisals. They question why their appraisals are significantly higher than those of similar homes in their neighborhood.

Ron Fugate of Overland Park is one homeowner who went through the appeals process. He thought the county’s original 2018 value of $249,000 for his town home was too high. He showed the county information that similar town homes in his neighborhood had lower values.

He just learned from the county’s updated website that, after his appeal hearing, his home’s value was reduced to $235,300.

“I think it went well,” Fugate said of his appeal. “I was able to achieve what I thought was a fair assessment of what my property was worth. I feel it was worth the effort to pursue it.”

But Lonnie Thompson, who lives in the same Stoneybrook neighborhood as Fugate, wasn’t as pleased. He appealed his home’s value, $261,000, but saw on the website that it had been reduced to $256,800, which he thought was still too high.

“It’s gone up every year,” Thompson said. “It’s the same old, same old.”

A higher appraisal translates into a higher assessment, which is used to calculate an owner’s property tax. Some residents, especially those who are elderly or on fixed incomes, have worried that a significant assessment increase will make it hard for them to afford their property taxes.

Those worries are most pronounced in places such as Prairie Village, Fairway, Merriam, Mission and parts of Overland Park and Olathe, where the real estate market has been especially hot. In some parts of Johnson County, home values have increased by as much as 25 to 30 percent in recent years.

Elected officials have said they are aware of residents' concerns. They have suggested that they may try to reduce the mill levies for various government services this year so that even a higher appraisal and assessment won’t automatically mean a higher property tax bill.

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