This week the Knox County Property Assessor is mailing updated tax values for every piece of property in the county. The letters will inform property owners what their land and homes are worth, which ultimately impacts how much tax people have to pay.
The county reappraises property values every four years. It's a process that inevitably causes arguments between property owners and the county. The appraisal in 2009 was especially contentious in the midst of the real estate crisis.
Appraisers for the assessor's office say 2013 may be less contentious than four years ago because workers have made the rounds to make sure they get the job done correctly.
"I love doing this job. I love driving around the county, seeing new houses, seeing the changes people have made to their property through the years," said property appraiser Roger Ownby. "We go out and verify that the information on our books is accurate. People make a lot of changes to property. They might have added a pool, a shed, a barn, a detached garage, or some other thing that impacts value. On the flip side, you might have property where a house has burned down."
Ownby also adjusts information on the books that property owners say is inaccurate. Ownby stretched measuring tape around the exterior perimeter of a home in West Knoxville because the owner of the home disputed the square footage stated on the county records.
"We're getting all of the exterior dimensions and looking at the footprint of the house," said Ownby. "The property owner says this home has 300 more square feet than what our records show. It turned out there were a couple of measurements that were flip flopped that affected the square footage and showed it as less than it actually was, so we'll make that correction."
This year Knox County has implemented several new online tools to help owners verify what their property is really worth.
"We have a new website where you can go online, look at your property, look at your neighbors' [property]," said Phil Ballard, Knox County Property Assessor. "There's a place on the website that you can look at recent sales near your property. You can easily search by typing in an address or an owner's name. A lot of this information is stuff you used to have to come to our office to obtain, so this is a little piece of history that has never been done before in Knox County."
The website also allows owners to appeal online if they believe the appraisal is incorrect. Then the office will review the request and Ownby may be back in your neighborhood to double-check the property value.
"What we're trying to do is make sure everyone in Knox County is treated the same," said Ownby.
Overall, residential property values in Knox County remained flat or dropped slightly compared to 2009. The value of commercial property rose about three percent according to Ballard.
To find the latest property tax values for individual parcels in Knox County, go to the Knox County property look-up search engine.
If you disagree with the latest reappraisal of your property, an informal review request form is also available on the property assessor's website.
You can check out the new property values for 20-13 right now.