The Great Property Value Explosion of 2024

As we head further into 2024, property owners across Ohio are being caught off guard by significantly higher property tax bills from their county treasurers. County auditors perform comprehensive revaluations of all properties in their counties once every six years and completed their most recent revaluation in 2023. Due to several factors, including Greater Cincinnati’s red-hot real estate market, property values have skyrocketed. So too did property tax bills, which are based in large part on property values. What many property owners don’t know is that they can challenge their property valuations by submitting an appeal to their county’s Board of Revision.

The deadline to file property valuation complaints for any tax year is March 31 of the following year (i.e., for tax year 2023, the deadline is March 31, 2024). The Board of Revision will review the complaint and conduct a hearing, usually sometime between May and September, at which the complainant must demonstrate that the property was overvalued. While not quite as formal as court proceedings, the hearings do involve a recorded presentation of evidence and testimony before a three-member panel. A representative from the auditor’s office will attend the hearing to defend their valuation. In some cases, an attorney representing the school district in which the property is located will attend and oppose the valuation reduction.

Generally, to demonstrate to the Board of Revision that a property is overvalued, the property owner needs to present the following: (1) evidence of sales of comparable properties that have recently sold at lower prices than the auditor’s valuation of the subject property; or (2) an appraisal concluding that the subject property’s value is lower than the value assigned to it by the auditor. Appraisers use two approaches to determine a property’s value: (1) the sales comparison approach, and (2) the income approach. Under the sales comparison approach, the appraiser identifies recently sold properties that are similar to the subject property in location, size, age, and type. Under the income approach — which is only applicable to commercial properties — the appraiser estimates the property’s value based on the income that it produces. Professional appraisals are almost always the best source of evidence for the hearing, especially when the Board is familiar with the appraiser and deferential to the appraiser’s credibility. 

If the Board of Revision reduces a property’s value, the new value will generally apply until the midpoint of the six-year valuation period, at which point county auditors perform another revaluation. Therefore, by seeking a value reduction right after a revaluation, property owners can potentially save money on their taxes for several years. The difference between the revaluation at the midpoint of the six-year valuation period and end of the six-year valuation period is that midpoint revaluations don’t include a physical inspection of the property and only consider general market conditions. If property owners are dissatisfied with the Board’s decision, they can appeal to the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals or to the court of common pleas within 30 days after receiving the Board’s decision.

Levine is a member of Strauss Troy’s litigation and corporate practice groups. Levine also has a niche practice and extensive experience representing clients before Ohio county boards of revision and the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals for real estate tax valuation issues.