JoCo on the Go Podcast: Property Appraisals

On episode #164 of JoCo On the Go, we take a look at the Notices of Appraised Valuation that will be showing up in Johnson County residential property owners’ mailboxes this week. Property values in Johnson County are continuing to increase, but at lower rates than in previous years. We discuss market trends with Johnson County Appraiser Beau Boisvert, along with information on how to appeal property valuations, including using a new online appeals portal on the County Appraiser’s website.

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Time Subject
00:28 Introduction
01:23 Notices of Appraised Valuation
04:29 How the numbers are determined
08:12 Factors driving prices
12:44 Appeal process
18:50 Average value of a home in Johnson County


Andy Hyland 0:00 

Johnson County property owners recently received updated Notices of Appraised Value in their mailboxes. Today, we'll visit with the county appraiser to talk about recent trends in the market and what those notices mean for residents.

Announcer 0:14 

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.

Andy Hyland 0:28 

Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go. I'm your host Andy Hyland. I work in public affairs at Johnson County Government. And joining us today to talk about property valuations in Johnson County is county appraiser, Beau Boisvert. Welcome, and can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role?

Beau Boisvert 0:46 

Well hello, Andy. I've been the Johnson County Appraiser now for four years and about six months. I've been enjoying it. I came from Arizona where I had been in the appraisal industry for 26 years. So I'm still doing the same kind of work I've been doing most of my life, enjoy it a lot and have a good time.

Andy Hyland 1:09 

So let's start today by addressing that piece of mail that residential property owners are receiving from your office. Can you explain that notice of assessed valuation to our listeners and describe a little bit of the information that's contained there?

Beau Boisvert 1:23 

Sure, I can do that. So what they're going to receive is the notice from us that says Johnson County Appraiser's Office, it's going to be in the upper left hand corner, and in there is going to say 2024 annual notice of value. This is not a tax bill. This is just to talk about what the value is from our office's determination for the 2024 year. And just below that will be a green box. And that green box will be the mail date, which is actually February 26. And they should be in their mailboxes by either Thursday or Wednesday of the same week. And that will be their notices they have. The other information in that that green box is the deadline date for filing an appeal if they want to file an appeal after reviewing it. And that is March 27. So they are both in their little green box up near the top. If you move down a little bit further, you'll see their name and address and just general information about their property. And then there's two more green boxes below that. The one on the left hand side is last year's notice of value, or the final values that they filed an appeal and got a reduction. And there's the one on the right hand side is the actual 2024 notice. So you can look at last year's value versus this year's value. And the majority of our properties did go up, not significantly like they had in previous years. It was more of a stable market. And we'll talk a little bit more about that later. But that's what the top part of the notice looks like. The next part of the notice actually looks like...has information about comps for your property. Those are comparable sales that we think in our office would represent that particular property owner. And so therefore, they can kind of look those over and see. The other thing I would recommend they do is also look for the comparables in their neighborhood that maybe weren't on the list that they know sold, or any other property that sold that they think is a better representation. If they think it's a better representation and is lower than the value we have, then I would encourage them to file an appeal. Below that is just the assessment ratio chart. This talks about all the assessment ratios that are used in Kansas, and therefore they may not need to worry too much about it. But it's just general information we're required to provide. So that's the actual notice itself on the front side. The backside is actually the appeal form. And that way they can fill it out and mail it, give it back to us, make a copy of it and mail it to us, scan it in their computer, send it to us. Or they can go online and actually file an appeal on our webpage electronically, and then upload any pictures or data or documents they want there. So that's kind of what the notice is like, front and backside.

Andy Hyland 4:16 

That's great. And how do you come up with the amount of that increase? I think that's a question many people have is, you know, well gosh...see, it went up by this much. How do you determine that number?

Beau Boisvert 4:29 

We actually analyze the sales. We take all the sales that occur, and we, of course, group them in what we call homogeneous groups. So like two bedroom, three baths or three bedroom, two baths, those type of homes, ranch style versus a split level versus a walkout basement. Those are all the types of characteristics we use. And we actually did determine through the sales analysis of a number of a lot of sales, what value you would place on those different components of the house. Two car garage, three car garage, pool, patio, front porch, size of the land are all characteristics that we look at and determine values for all of those. Then we take those values that we've determined by the components and apply them back to all the properties that didn't sell. So therefore everybody's being treated the same across the board as it relates to what the new market is. And then, in most cases, it does go up in the positive market. We've been in a positive market for many years. In the last couple of years, we're much more positive in terms of percentage of increases than this year, our average increase this year is right around 7%. So that means that's the overall average, which means most of our properties are going to fall somewhere between 3% and probably 8- 10%. We will still have a few that will be in the double digits. Most of the time, they're ones that remodeled, or they're ones that were totally tore down and build a brand new house. Typically that land value would anything less...of course, it'd be a big increase when you add a house to it. So that's kind of how we do our basic analysis.

Andy Hyland 6:14 

And you mentioned the increase of about 7%. How does that compare to previous years that we've seen?

Beau Boisvert 6:20 

Last year we were...11.5% was the average increase, the year before that was, like, 10.4%. And then the year before that, which was the pre-pandemic, was in the 6% range. So typically, in Johnson County, we've averaged between 6, 7, 7 1/2%. And what we would consider normal years. Those are the years outside of the pandemic. The pandemic was unique because the interest rates dropped to 2 and 3%. And therefore, people were spending their money on their homes and upgrading or selling that home and upgrading to a new home as a little bit bigger, better at 2%, when their original interest on their mortgage was probably around 5 1/2 to 6%. So that really kind of sparked a lot of activity, a lot of people buying, a lot of buyers per individual house on the market, which, of course, pushed the values up because you started having a bidding wars. That seems to have now died off for the most part. We're still seeing some market indications of multiple buyers, but not to the degree we saw before. Maybe one or two, three, maybe even four but not the 7, 8, 9, 10 buyers trying to get into the same house. So therefore, I think it's shrunk down that inflated purchase price. Some of them were still selling for more than the asking price because you have multiple buyers, but not like we were seeing 30%, 22% increases before.

Andy Hyland 7:59 

Excuse me. And I think you just you've talked about this a bit. But why do those values go up every year? I mean, what are the factors in the market that you think really are driving these prices up?

Beau Boisvert 8:12 

There's a high demand for people that want to move here. And when you have a high demand to move here and you have very little inventory, our developers do not build spec homes like they used to prior to the recession that occurred around '06, '07. Because then they got caught with having to pay all the taxes on the homes that sat there for a couple of years before they got purchased. So they just aren't putting the energy into that. Plus the cost to build has gone up significantly. Labor, materials...we're seeing some delay for getting materials, especially if it's coming from overseas. And so therefore, your costs go up. And then that's another reason why they don't have an investment on spec homes like they used to. So, of course, all of that drives up value, because you still have people who want to move here. So people will try to pay what it takes to get here. We have good schools, we have good services and great parks. You know, it's just a good place to live and in the Kansas City area. So everybody wants to try to be here, they can.

Andy Hyland 9:21 

And I think, you know, one of the questions we hear from listeners too is how do improvements to your property affect the value of it? So if you make an improvement to your house, does that necessarily translate into a correlating jump in value?

Beau Boisvert 9:40 

Depends on what they're actually improving. Typically, if you, you know, you improve a house by putting a new roof on it or putting in, you know, a hot water heater and already had a hot water heater, you know, you improve your air conditioning, your heating system, it already had that. So those are not things that typically improve the value drastically. A lot of times, it's when they remodel a kitchen, remodel bathrooms, because they're high expense items to remodel. And then they're also having to compete with meeting the new building codes, which means they maybe go into electrical work, plumbing work, some of those other things, which would then obviously change the value when you're now up to snuff, so to speak, with the building codes.

Andy Hyland 10:26 

And I think many residents see an increase in their property values, and they think...their mind's jumping right to higher taxes as a result. And you mentioned before, this is not a tax bill is printed right on that that mailing notice. But describe how these valuations are tied to tax rates, and how they how you use them to arrive at someone's tax rates? Because they are related but not the same.

Beau Boisvert 10:52 

Well they are. They are related in that, by law, we're required to value the properties in a fair and equitable manner, so that property owners are paying their fair share of taxes, whatever that fair share looks like. So what happens is, think of it as like a teeter totter. In a perfect system of valuation and taxation, when the values go up on a teeter totter, the levy would drop, because you only need so many dollars for services and materials and equipment and staff, right? For cities, counties or whoever. And so the question is, is when the values go up, to what degree does the teeter totter come down on the levy side? Well, that's the decision by school boards, you know, city council members, the county board to decide what is the spending amount need to be for that new year, which would cover inflation costs for buying their services go up just like everybody else's? And then what is that number? That's sometimes a hard number to figure out. I mean, you know, we all struggle even with our personal budget sometimes, right? But it's kind of like a teeter totter, in theory, how it works. But it's really hard to determine how much it's gonna go up, or how little it's gonna go up. If you have a house that actually drops in value, you might see your tax bill go down. And we always have a handful of properties that when they bring something to our attention during the appeal season from last year, who make that correction for the new year, they may see a slight reduction $10-, $15-, $20,000 for the next year, which means that went down, didn't stay up. So that happens sometimes.

Andy Hyland 12:44 

And you just mentioned the appeal process there. And I know that you have a process in place, you've alluded to it a couple of times here already. If a resident or any property owner disagrees with your appraisal of their property, what is their recourse? Can you describe the process you go through to file an appeal, and what you need to do?

Beau Boisvert 13:09 

Sure, so there's a couple of ways to file an appeal. You can fill out the back of the form like I suggested. I would also, if you do that, I would suggest you make a copy of it to keep, then you can mail it in with your evidence. You can mail in that notice and then turn in your evidence, you know, within 15 days of that. We have a mailbox outside, or they can mail it to us. We have a lot of people who just drive by drop it off in their mailbox that's out in our parking lot. The other way we get an appeal is online now. We have a brand new online appeal portal that we've been testing for the last couple of years. And it has now been able to go live for any property type. We kind of started with residential, but now it's...commercial can do it, residential, agricultural. Any type of property can now file online and then upload their documents without actually having to come down here or, you know, pay for it to be mailed to us.

Andy Hyland 14:15 

That's great. And I think that that's going to be really welcome. And we'll include a link to that online portal in the notes of this episode. But I think, you know, I imagine you see a lot of appeals that are successful and some that are not so successful. What distinguishes a successful appeal from an unsuccessful one, and what should a property owner do if they want to successfully make their case for a reduction?

Beau Boisvert 14:45 

I think it's really making sure they have good documentation, good photographs. If they really think that the house has serious issues, you know, make requests that we actually do a field inspection. We've had some of those we've done in the past. Especially if they have actual serious deterioration of the construction of the property. We see a lot of that in basements that have cracks and leaking, stuff like that. But yeah, the pictures are, you know, they say a lot, they speak a lot of words, right? You can see this stuff. But then anything they can give us in terms of documentation, that's the key for us. And then, you know, if they asked for a meeting on phone or in person, then they can have that conversation with our staff member about their data that they supplied versus what we have in terms of information. Many times, the adjustments we make are because they're things we don't particularly know about. We don't go into homes unless we're requested to go in. And so we're making, you know, our opinion of value from a professional standpoint based on what we see on the outside and based on our experience as an appraiser. So sometimes we get that right, sometimes we don't, because we don't really know what's inside without going in sometimes. So that would be my recommendation is good documentation, good pictures, send it in, and have your meeting.

Andy Hyland 16:14 

And what about, you mentioned also comparable values? Do you see much success there? I mean, I know you all do a pretty good job of trying to track values. But I imagine there are cases where somebody may be able to make a case by demonstrating similar valued properties that have other things. And does that path work out well sometimes?

Beau Boisvert 16:38 

It does. And that happens a lot. Sometimes the sales affidavit maybe doesn't get to us. And so we don't even know that sale occurred. That's rare, but it does happen. The other part of it is, especially with the sale, what that market is, they know their neighborhood a little bit better than we do. They may know about some physical damage or non-physical damage to a property. And we think we have a different opinion on it, that sold, right? So that's always important too. So yeah, we see we see a number of people who are successful with their sales information that they provide us.

Andy Hyland 17:18 

Very good. And going back to the real estate market now. I think, are there some areas of the county that are seeing higher increases than others? And what are those spots where the market is particularly hot right now?

Beau Boisvert 17:32 

Yeah Andy, the market is really hot. In the Spring Hill area, there's been a lot of new constructions of new subdivisions being put in down there. And of course, the new homes selling are selling higher than the resale homes. And so therefore, that does influence the land values along with the area. We still are trying to do a new home with an older home, but the land value is still the land value. And that's consistent, right, wherever. The far northeast, there are some areas up there that are still, you know, like Westwood, that area's got some...theirs is usually more because they tear down our old house and build a new one, right? So it's a little unique up in that area with Leawood and Prairie Village in that, but those are the two hottest areas this year. Most everything else is gonna, like I said, going to be right around that 3% to 8% increase. There's a handful in the double digits, but it's a pretty small percentage compared to the overall 258,000 single family homes that we have. Even county duplexes, you know, triplexes and all that.

Andy Hyland 18:50 

Right, right. What can you tell us about the average value of a home in Johnson County this year?

Beau Boisvert 18:57 

For this year is going to be $511,000. And when our actual report comes out on Thursday after the presentation to the Board of County Commissioners, it'll be available on our website for people to go look at, and they can see the data related to their area, their city and see exactly how things have gone in that area. One of the biggest influences, of course, is the interest rates are still high compared to what they were. So you're not seeing as much of an activity as you've seen in the past. But you're still seeing, like I mentioned before, homes that are selling with multiple buyers listed because they still want to move here, and they can afford that 6% interest on their mortgage. So that's what we're seeing mostly right now in the marketplace.

Andy Hyland 19:53 

And are there any other real estate trends you want to mention or think about that we haven't talked about yet?

Beau Boisvert 19:58 

In the commercial area, we're seeing the discussions, and we're actually starting to see some conversion of office and hotels into apartments. So it looks like we're a little bit over square footage in terms of total square footage for offices and hotels, and therefore we're starting to see conversions starting to take place. We have had our first two projects approved this year. They haven't been finished yet, but they've been approved. And I know that it's a trend across the country too, where they're taking office space and hotel space where there's just not the business and converting them into apartment-type facilities, because they have the basic infrastructure to do that. So that's an interesting trend going on right now.

Andy Hyland 20:47 

Very good. And I know you're going to be out visiting with a number of stakeholders across the county in the coming days and week as this information begins to roll out. Can you talk about that process and what kind of groups you normally go out and speak to and how you help spread this word that we're talking about right now?

Beau Boisvert 21:06 

Sure. Well, first we start with the Board of Commissioners on...that would be this Thursday, the 29th, will be our meeting, then we start our first meeting with the cities that afternoon. So it'd be the smaller cities up in the northeast corner, we meet with them first. That's kind of been the tradition normally. And then starting Friday, we start traveling around meeting with all the cities, their managers and usually the mayor, a couple of other key people for their cities. We go through the whole presentation that you're going to see at the Board of Commissioners at a much more detailed level. And then we talk about their city specific, the values and the information about their city. We will be doing that through March 11. And we'll also touch in there the school boards and the fire districts. Then usually after March 11, I start getting requests for meetings with local organizations like the rotary clubs, homeowners associations and those type of entities. And so we start booking those from sometime after March 11. And we're usually done with those meetings that are more public, just with the public, usually around the middle to the end of April. So we stay pretty busy. This time of year, just having just meeting and talking about what the values are and what the market is doing in Johnson County.

Andy Hyland 22:38 

Very good. Very good. And this is a lot of great information. Is there anything else you'd like to share with our listeners? I know you have a lot of great information on your website as well.

Beau Boisvert 22:47 

Oh, yeah, I will always say go to our website if you want to look for something. The biggest thing you reminded me is, like, I think I do this every year is remind them, if they really think there's something that just doesn't look right with that value for them when they get the notice, they should contact us and consider filing an appeal. They can talk to us first if they want to do that. That's up to them. But, you know, like everything, you know, statistically we're good for about 85-90% of the properties, so that 10 or 15% is either too high or too low. And we never hear from the ones that it's too low. But we always hear from the ones that feel it's too high. And if they feel it's too high, they should be filing an appeal so we can talk to him.

Andy Hyland 23:30 

Very good. And thanks again for visiting with us and sharing this information. I think it's great stuff for folks to hear and understand. And so thanks for joining us.

Beau Boisvert 23:40 

Oh, you're welcome, Andy. I appreciate it. And again, the public, I have an open door policy. They're welcome anytime.

Andy Hyland 23:46 

Very good.

Announcer 23:48 

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 Thanks for listening.