Assessor Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT ARE THE FACTORS USED IN DETERMINING VALUE?

By law, the assessor must consider a variety of market-based information in appraising different kinds of property:

  1. Vacant Land: Sales of similar land occurring during the study period are adjusted for market trends and physical differences such as size, topography and access to amenities.
  2. Residential Homes: State Statute allows for only the Market Approach to be considered for residential property valuation. Sales of similar homes, taken from the current study period, are adjusted for market trends and property differences such as size, location and age.
  3. Commercial Property: Sales, income and expense information, and cost to construct data of similar commercial properties are all considered.

The Assessor’s job is to analyze all pertinent information and reconcile it into an accurate, fair estimate of value.

What Criteria Impact the Quality designation for a residence?                                                                                                                                                    Each residential property is assigned a quality designation that allows us to group properties of like quality for valuation and classification.  Criteria for Residential Construction Quality

HOW OFTEN DO YOU RE-VALUE PROPERTY?
Colorado law requires all Assessors to reappraise all real property, including land and improvements, every two years, in odd-numbered years. A reappraisal is the review and adjustment of property value to a different level of value. Property value may change between reappraisals if there are changes to the property, such as new construction.

DO ALL ASSESSMENTS OR VALUES CHANGE AT THE SAME RATE?
Each reappraisal cycle the Assessor’s Office disregards the old valuations and starts from scratch using an entirely new sales list. Colorado law requires that market value for a parcel is established using sales from a specific time frame; in the case of the 2017 reappraisal this was from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2016. Often percentage increases or decreases in property value are reported in the media, which is confusing to property owners because these figures are generalizations, not representative of a specific neighborhood. What is important is whether the current value is correct and aligned with sales of similar properties in the area.

WHAT IS A “SALES STUDY PERIOD”?
According to State Statute, the Assessor is required to gather and confirm sales within the eighteen-month period ending on June 30 of the year prior to a reappraisal year, time adjusting each sale to the June 30 ending date. This data-gathering period is referred to as the Sales Study Period. While statute prescribes an eighteen month study period, assessors are allowed to extend the study period back in time in six-month increments. In Douglas County the study period for the 2015 reappraisal extends from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2016. Click Here for More Information.

IF I BOUGHT MY HOUSE DURING THE STUDY PERIOD, SHOULDN’T THE VALUE BE THE SAME AS WHAT I PAID FOR IT?
One sale by itself does not determine market value. All neighborhood sales must be considered when establishing a level of value for consistency and equalization purposes. Your sales transaction is verified and then may be considered along with sales of similar properties.

HOW CAN MY ASSESSMENT OR VALUE CHANGE WHEN I HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING TO MY PROPERTY?
While a property may not have been updated and characteristics remain the same, the property value is based on what it would sell for as of the prescribed appraisal date. Real estate values are influenced by numerous external economic, social, governmental, and physical factors. For example, general economic conditions such as interest rates, inflation rates, supply and demand, changes in tax laws, new highways, and a number of other factors can change and affect the value of property. As property values change in the market place, those changes must be reflected on the assessment roll.

MY PROPERTY DOESN’T COMPARE TO THE EXPENSIVE HOME DOWN THE STREET THAT JUST SOLD. ARE YOU VALUING MY PROPERTY BASED ON THAT SALE?
Although location is very important in the valuation of real estate, it is not the only factor. Other characteristics to be considered in choosing good comparable sales are similarity in size, quality, style, and condition of the residential improvements.

HOW IS ACTUAL SQUARE FOOTAGE DETERMINED?
The Assessor’s Office uses exterior measurements of homes and buildings, which is an appraisal industry standard. This may cause the Assessor’s calculation of square footage to differ from that estimated by a builder or realtor since they frequently use interior measurements. This measuring technique is applied consistently to all improvements, which results in uniform data collection.

WILL I BE PENALIZED IF I DON’T LET THE ASSESSOR IN WHEN AN INSPECTION IS REQUESTED?
No. When an interior inspection is not allowed, the Assessor will attempt to update the records by looking at the property from the outside and using the best available data and information. However, to ensure an accurate assessment or determination of actual value, it is to your advantage to allow the assessor inside your property when an inspection is requested. All Douglas County appraisers have photo identification cards that are provided when an inspection is requested. If you wish to verify the person requesting the inspection, please contact the Douglas County Assessor’s Office at 303-660-7450.

MY HOUSE WASN’T COMPLETE ON JAN. 1. HOW WAS IT VALUED?

  • All property in Colorado is valued as it exists on Jan. 1 of the current year. If a structure is not fully built on that date, a partial value reflecting the percentage of completion is used.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY ASSESSMENT IF I IMPROVE MY PROPERTY?

Generally, improvements or changes to the structure will increase the value of the property. Examples of typical items that will increase the value of your property:

  • Finished basement
  • Additions to the square footage of your home
  • Central air conditioning
  • Added rooms or garages
  • Substantial modernization of kitchens or baths
  • Fireplaces
  • Extensive remodeling

HOW WILL I KNOW WHAT VALUE THE ASSESSOR HAS PLACED ON MY PROPERTY?
The Assessor mails a Notice of Valuation (NOV) to each property owner on May 1. The NOV states the actual value for that year.

WHAT IF I CHANGE MY ADDRESS?
It is the responsibility of the property owner to notify the Assessor’s Office of any change in mailing address. To protect the taxpayer from an erroneous address change, the address used by the Assessor’s Office will not be changed without the property owner’s written consent. For your convenience, you may download an Address Change Form from this site, complete it and mail it. Every year, thousands of property owners don’t receive the notices we send because they have not kept us advised of their changed addresses. Don’t let this happen to you!

HOW CAN I CHANGE THE OWNERSHIP ON MY PROPERTY?
The title on property can be changed via a recorded deed. The Assessor’s Office is an “office of record,” which means changes in ownership or property boundaries are done based on recorded deeds, surveys, subdivision plats, and other documents pertaining to ownership. Deeds must be recorded at the Clerk and Recorder’s Office before the Assessor’s records can be modified to reflect any changes. Deeds are available for purchase at many office supply stores or online at Bradford Publishing Company.

Review your original deed to see how title was taken. Then list the current owner(s) in the area for the grantor(s) and list the new owner(s) in the area for grantee(s). If grantees want to take title as Joint Tenants, that must be stated in the language of the deed or title is automatically taken as ‘Tenants In Common’. Joint Tenants have a right of survivorship meaning if one of the owners dies, title is automatically vested to the remaining person(s) after a death certificate is recorded. ‘Tenants In Common’ is the statutory default and if one owner dies their interest passes to their heirs, but must go through probate court.  ‘Tenants in Common’ is also used when there are interests other than equal ownership between the parties.

The Assessor’s office does not give legal advice. You may wish to consult an attorney to see if the change is appropriate to your situation.

MY NOTICE OF VALUATION SHOWS LAND VALUE AND IMPROVEMENT VALUE, BUT I DIDN’T MAKE ANY IMPROVEMENTS. WHY DO I HAVE AN IMPROVEMENT VALUE?
Improvement is the terminology used to identify everything added to or put on the land, such as buildings. If you have made no changes to an existing structure but you still have an increase, this would reflect the market showing an increase in value.

BUT MY HOUSE WASN’T BUILT ON 6/30/2016 –HOW CAN YOU VALUE IT?
Your 2017 assessment is based on the status of your property as of January 1, 2017, and valued according to what it would have been worth on June 30, 2016. The taxes on the 2017 assessment will be due in 2018.

HOW CAN I VERIFY THE VALUE ON MY PROPERTY?

  • Market (sales) information is available for a 24-month period, (from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2016 for tax year 2017) in the Assessor’s Office. A staff member can assist you in locating sales information. This data is also available in the Assessor Comparable Sales Search.
  • Local real estate offices may be able to provide you with sales information. Be sure to use sales from the current 24 month sales study period.
  • For non-residential properties, construction cost and/or income data of comparable properties can also be used to verify the accuracy of your property value.

IF MY PROPERTY VALUE HAS INCREASED, WILL MY PROPERTY TAXES GO UP?
If your property value has increased, that does not automatically mean that your property tax will go up by the same percentage. THE ASSESSOR DOES NOT SET PROPERTY TAXES OR MILL LEVIES. Property taxes are determined by multiplying your home’s assessed value by the mill levy. Mill levies are set in December of each year by the various taxing authorities (city or town council, Douglas County School District, any special districts you might reside in, etc). All the mill levies for the taxing authorities are then added together into one overall mill levy.

WHY IS THE CHANGE IN MY ASSESSMENT DIFFERENT FROM THE PERCENTAGE PUBLISHED IN THE LOCAL NEWSPAPERS FOR PROPERTIES IN MY AREA?
Newspapers sometimes publish a summary of the average sale price in an area that compares one time period to another. While this may give a general indication of a percentage change in sales prices, it should not be compared to any percentage change in your assessment, for the following reasons:

  • The time period shown may not match the effective date of assessment.
  • Areas covered are typically a zip code or other large area and do not reflect different changes within individual neighborhoods. In addition, property types may have been combined and do not take into account differing percentage changes between single family, townhouse, and condominium types of residential dwellings.
  • A mean or median percentage change can be overly influenced by the types of properties sold during the specified time period. For example, percentage changes can be misleading if more lower priced homes sold during the beginning of the time period versus more higher priced homes at the end.

HOW CAN A PROPERTY BE ASSESSED FOR MORE THAN ITS PURCHASE PRICE?
Real Estate may be assessed for more than the sales price because the assessment reflects “fair market value.” Fair market value is not necessarily the price paid for a piece of real estate, but rather, what it is worth on the real estate market. Values also change, and the property value may have gone up since the purchase. This is especially true if a piece of real estate was purchased several years ago, or if a person happened to get a good buy because of a distress sale condition. The actual value should represent fair market value, which may or may not be the same as sales price.

I DISAGREE WITH THE ASSESSOR’S VALUATION OF MY PROPERTY; WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Property owners can protest the Assessor’s valuation of their property between May 1 and June 1 of each year. This may be done in a number of different ways. You may file an online appeal, mail or fax back your appeal form, or appear in person. We do request an appointment to be made for a face to face hearing. See the Step-By-Step Protest Procedures in the Protest/Appeals section of this web site.

I WANT TO APPEAR IN PERSON. WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AT MY APPOINTMENT?
During the meeting, the appraiser will review the record on your property with you to be sure all the information such as age, style and size is correct. You may want to identify and review information from the Assessor’s office on properties comparable to your own and sales of comparable properties, all available on this website, to present at your hearing. After your meeting the appraiser will review all the information provided as well as information in the assessor’s records and make a decision. The Notice of Determination will be mailed by the last working day in August. The appraiser’s job is to ensure that values are fair and equal and will take all of the issues into consideration. This should not be considered adversarial.

CAN I PROTEST A PRIOR YEAR’S VALUE?
The Assessor may not review values for prior years during the annual appeal period. However, IF you did not already appeal those values during the years in question, abatement petitions may be filed within two years of the date the taxes were due, provided that:

  • the property valuation has not been previously appealed; and
  • the person or entity filing for abatement was the owner of record for the year(s) being abated.

The filing of the Petition For Abatement or Refund of Taxes, is the first step in a process of appeal that is lengthy and may take up to six months before a decision is rendered.

WHY ARE VACANT LAND AND COMMERCIAL ASSESSED AT 29 PERCENT AND RESIDENTIAL AT A LOWER RATE?
The differences in assessment rates between residential homes and other types of property is the result of an amendment to the Colorado Constitution, approved by the voters in 1982, which limited the residential share of the property taxes. The state legislature changes the residential assessment rate each reappraisal year to keep the property tax burden from shifting to residential property.

TO WHAT AGENCIES ARE MY TAX DOLLARS ALLOCATED?
Property tax continues to be the major source of revenue for local government. Property taxes are an important source of revenue for local schools, libraries, fire protection, water and sanitation, and law enforcement. The list of taxing authorities serving your property may be found on our web site on the Parcel Details page for your property.

WHO SETS THE TAX RATE OR MILL LEVY?

  • Tax rates (mill levies) are determined by each taxing authority (County, City, School District, Fire Department, Water and Sanitation District, and Recreation District) in the fall of each year. These authorities provide services to you and are listed on your last tax notice.
  • Amendment I, approved by the voters in 1992, restricts the ability of taxing authorities to raise tax rates or revenue without voter approval. Some tax authorities have chosen to provide tax credits, which allows the tax district to maintain its official mill levy and not exceed revenue limits.

DOESN’T THE TABOR AMENDMENT FROM 1992 PREVENT MY TAXES FROM RISING?
No. The Tabor Amendment (Amendment 1 of 1992) controls the amount that State and local governments can collect and spend. It does not limit the rate of increase of an individual tax bill.

WHAT IS THE FORMULA FOR CALCULATING TAXES?
Property taxes are calculated using the following formula.

Current Actual Value (provided on Notice of Value) x Assessment Rate* = Assessed Value

Assessed Value x Tax Rate (Mill Levy) = Estimated Property Tax

* Current Assessment Rate is projected to be 7.20 percent for residential and 29 percent for all other property.
The Colorado state legislature adjusts the residential assessment rate in reappraisal years.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “ACTUAL” VALUE AND “ASSESSED” VALUE?

The Assessor determines the “actual” (market) value for all real and personal property. Then, a percentage of that value is taken in order to derive the “assessed” value. For all property in Colorado except residential, the assessment percentage is 29%. For residential property, a new assessment percentage is determined each reappraisal year by the State legislature. The most recent assessment percentage for residential property was set at 7.20%. The assessed value, multiplied by the mill levy, produces the property tax.

CAN I PROTEST MY TAXES?
No. Colorado statutes require that the Assessor process appeals on valuations that have been assigned by the Assessor. There is no provision to appeal taxes and THE ASSESSOR’S OFFICE HAS NO CONTROL OVER TAXES. Valuation is only one part of the formula for calculating taxes. The assessment rate is set by the State Legislature.  Mill levies are set each year by taxing authorities.

HOW DO I ESTIMATE TAXES ON A NEW HOUSE?
Multiply the current purchase price by the current assessment rate (7.20%). Multiply the result by the mill levy in your area and move the decimal point 3 spaces to the left.

WHO PAYS THE TAXES DUE ON PROPERTY I SOLD OR PURCHASED?
Real property tax is the responsibility of the owner of record January 1st of each year. Private contracts between buyer and seller will often specify who pays the taxes or how the taxes are prorated based on the date of title conveyance. The proration is generally completed at the closing with the title company.

DOES THE ASSESSOR HAVE TO MEET ANY SPECIFIC EDUCATIONAL OR LICENSING REQUIREMENTS?
Yes. Anyone valuing property in the Assessor’s office is required by law to hold a Real Estate Appraiser’s license or certification authorized by the Colorado Real Estate Commission, State of Colorado. In addition, annual continuing educational courses, workshops, and seminars to maintain their license and certification are required. Most appraisers in the Douglas County Assessor’s office far exceed any minimum requirements established by law.

DOES COLORADO HAVE A HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION?
There is a statutory provision that a homestead occupied as a home by the owner shall be exempt from attachment arising from any debt or bankruptcy up to the value of $60,000, but current Colorado laws do not allow for a Homestead Exemption from property taxes.

WHAT IS THE SENIOR EXEMPTION?
Beginning in 2002, for those who qualify, 50 percent of the first $200,000 in actual value of their primary residence is exempt from property tax.  The exempted taxes are paid by the State of Colorado, however the legislature has the ability to discontinue the exemption during times of budget shortfalls.  Since its inception C.R.S. 39-3-203 has been revised back and forth to both eliminate and reinstate the senior property tax exemption benefit. At this time the exemption will be funded for taxes payable in 2017. Further information on the requirements and application process may be found on this web site under Senior Information.

HOW DO I QUALIFY FOR THE SENIOR EXEMPTION?
Taxpayers who are at least 65 years old on Jan. 1, who have been the owner of record on their property for at least ten years prior to Jan. 1 and who have occupied the property as their primary residence for at least ten consecutive years prior to Jan. 1 may qualify for the Senior Exemption. Application must be filed by July 15 of the year for which the exemption is sought.

HOW DO I TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE NEW PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION FOR 100% DISABLED VETERANS?
In 2006, Colorado voters approved Referendum E, amending section 3.5 of article X of the Colorado Constitution.  The amendment and subsequent legislation expanded the senior property tax exemption to include “qualifying disabled veterans.”

Application must be made through the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. For further information, instructions for filing and an application form, please refer to the Disabled Veterans Tax Exemption.

IS A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION EXEMPT FROM PROPERTY TAXES?
Under Colorado law, organizations which are charitable, educational, or religious in nature can be fully or partially exempt from property taxes. Simply having a non-profit status under federal IRS rules does not automatically carry an exemption from local property taxes. For further information and to download an exemption form, go to the State Division of Property Taxation web site or call 303-866-2371.