Property taxes, and more specifically, the property tax proration paid at closing by a Buyer to a Seller, should always a major topic of conversation between a home buyer or seller and their attorney. Because property taxes in Illinois are paid in arrears, the parties to an Illinois real estate closing transaction need to determine how to deal with those taxes in arrears and evaluate whether or not the method devised to deal with them is fair and realistic.
Just recently, the property tax attorneys at Elliott & Associates, P.C. sent out a note indicating that they have learned that “roughly 5% of the properties in New Trier Township… received assessment increases in 2017 despite the fact that 2017 is not a re-assessment year for them (2016 was).”
This. Is. Disturbing. In Cook County, most real estate is reassessed every three years. The new assessment is in place for the reassessment year and the succeeding two years. Although no one today can predict what the next tax bill will be (because a tax bill is a complex combination of tax rates, governmental budgets, assessed valuations, exemption, and equalization factors), the consistency of knowing an assessed value is good for three years (or is in the process of being changed), attorneys to help their clients have an insight into whether or not the manner the real estate contract deals with real estate taxes is reasonable.
The folks at Elliott & Associates, P.C. believe that most of the properties re-assessed in 2017 were properties that received assessment reductions as a result of assessment appeals before the Cook County Board of Review for the 2016 reassessment and that the re-assessments in 2017 demonstrate that the assessor is unwilling to honor those reductions. They go on to say that they expect similar increases for other northwest suburban properties receiving large assessment reductions in 2016 as a result of assessment appeals.
The Assessor for New Trier Township posted a news item on their website indicating that “County Assessor’s Office Issues “CORRECTED” Notices for 389 Township Properties”. They indicate that these are based on an “Assessor’s Audit” and cited that ” Illinois law allows a County Assessor to override the Board’s decision as to subsequent years”. The assessor then indicates that because the assessor did not send out notice that the reductions were struck down, the time for owners to file an appeal was extended to April 28, 2017.
The list of PINs affected can be found here.
While our office does not handle real estate tax appeals (although readers should feel free to contact Elliott & Associates, P.C. or any one of a number of excellent real estate taxation attorneys in Illinois if they think they need help with property tax appeals or assessments), this move by the Assessor highlights why it is very important for a home buyer and seller to understand what they agree to in their real estate contract. With the help of an experienced real estate closing attorney, a home buyer or seller can better understand the pitfalls and opportunities of the tax proration provision of their real estate Contract. Remember, we help buyers and sellers in Chicago and suburban Illinois real estate closings. Feel free to contact us to see if we are a match for an engagement.