Milwaukee property assessments, tax concerns; what owners can do

New Milwaukee property assessments just went out, and FOX6 News has been getting emails from people concerned that their taxes will go up.

The city assessor told FOX6 that, so far, 660 people have appealed this year’s assessments. That is not near what was seen in 2020, when that number was more than 5,700.

Ninety-three percent of properties in the city have higher assessments this year, the assessor said. The average increase for both residential and commercial is 13%.

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Last year, Catherine Petersen’s Hampton Heights home was assessed at $43,000. Now, it’s $65,000.

“It’s an unfair increase in value,” said Petersen. “That’s going to be a major increase in costs for us, with a limited budget for our household. That’s going to be a major hit for us.”

Catherine Petersen shares property assessment

Petersen said a medical condition keeps her from many jobs, and she’s worried about her mom who has owned the home since 1988. 

Even though the assessed value went up, it does not automatically mean higher taxes. Local governments will set the tax rates later this year.

“I don’t think we’ll really know,” said Tim Klingman, president of North Shore Homes. “It’s really going to depend on what the ultimate budget for the next year is and how that is really spread out amongst the city and the various districts.”

The city’s assessor said property owners can challenge their assessment by sharing photos of their homes and sale prices of similar ones.

“The market, the free market really determines what the assessed value should look like for the city,” said Nicole Larsen, Milwaukee commissioner of assessments. “Stay calm, stay patient. Any questions, please call us on our hotline.”

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Why the big jump? Milwaukee did not reassess property values in 2021, so this year’s increase represents two years of growing home values.

“It’s still very competitive. A seller’s market, indeed. When I’ve written offers for buyers, I’ve been up against from 20-40 offers,” Klingman said.

St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank data

The St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank shows how home values in the Milwaukee area have spiked.

For those who do appeal their assessment, an appraiser will review materials and may visit the property. Then, the Board of Assessors, which is made up of the assessor and her management team, will judge the case. Owners can appeal that decision to the Board of Review, which is made of appointees. Finally, a property owner could then go to court.

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