Oklahoma County Assessor, Keeping Tabs on Property Values

Article excerpt

Any real estate broker or agent in Oklahoma County worth his or her salt is well-acquainted with the Oklahoma County assessor's Web site and property information.

Technology is also proving to be a much-needed function the office can use to load information quicker to keep county records up to date for brokers, agents and the public.

But many may not realize the yearlong process that Leonard Sullivan, Oklahoma County assessor, and his staff go through to determine the value of an assortment of properties.

Sullivan said the county provides $9 million for economic development projects each year to fund essential operations. But of the hundreds of millions of dollars collected in property tax each year, Oklahoma County receives 10 cents on every dollar to keep the county running.

On the commercial side, those efforts include a staff of nine commercial appraisers led by Steve Storff, chief commercial appraiser. The team is charged each year with assessing the value of 22,000 commercial and industrial parcels in the county.

"Statutorily we have to set foot on the property once every four years," Storff said. "But we have to assess every property every year."

Each year from January to April the assessor's office determines the final property values from analyzing data collected from the previous year. That material is stored in a system called CAMA, which stands for Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal.

The analysis for each property includes factors like multiple regression analysis, paired sales analysis, and direct capitalization analysis.

Built into the CAMA system are the Marshall & Swift cost tables to aid in applying the cost approach.

While the tables are updated annually for accuracy, some properties will be adjusted individually to a proper value if they do not fit the mass appraisal system.

In the case that a property increases in value, a notice of valuation is mailed to the owner. The assessor's office reports about 12,000 of the notices were mailed on commercial and industrial properties in each of the past few years. If the property owner wishes to file and appeal after receiving the notice, he or she has 20 days in which to do so.

Informal hearings are another option to voice an appeal and are generally handled from January through April.

An owner or agent with an appeal can phone or stop by the assessor's office. Sullivan said many of those appeals are often cleared up after a visit or phone call.

"We handle about 95 percent of those over the phone," Sullivan said. "We pretty much solve everything in-house."

The assessor's office also reports a dramatic decrease in appeals over the last few years. Sullivan cites the 5-percent cap law that went into effect in 1997 as the main reason for the decline.

When May rolls around, if a property owner has an appeal and is not satisfied with the outcome of an informal hearing, he or she may then file a formal appeal with the Board of Equalization.

A representative from the commercial end of the assessor's office gathers all pertinent information and is present at all hearings.

If the Board of Equalization ruling fails to satisfy the owner or agent, he or she may then file an appeal in district court within 10 days after the board adjourns, which is usually on May 31. …