The Estimated Fair Market Value shown on my tax bill is more than I think my house is worth, what do I do?
Contrary to common sense, the Estimated Fair Market Value (EFMV) shown on your tax bill WAS NEVER meant to be an actual estimate of your home’s value to buyers in the real estate market today.

In fact, neither the assessment ratio nor the EFMV appeared on tax bills before 1987; it was considered to be unnecessary since the tax due is calculated using just the assessment and the tax rate (Mil rate).

In1987 the State Legislature had decided to bring property assessments all around the State to some common level of assessment to protect the idea that taxation must be Uniform under our Constitution. The change they enacted to accomplish this was to require that total assessments in a community could be no more than 10% above or below market levels overall.

Prior to that change, assessments in every town, village or city were different and could be any fraction of the overall market level depending on where you went across the State. It was not uncommon to find nearby communities whose assessments were 25%, 38%, 57% or 82% of their actual market levels.

The assessment ratio on the tax bill was included as a way to show taxpayers that their Towns, Villages and Cities were adjusting assessments periodically to keep up with real estate market changes. The EFMV was added as well as a misguided attempt to help taxpayers decide if their assessment was on the right track.

The EFMV is calculated simply by dividing the assessment by the assessment ratio. The assessment ratio is an overall comparison of the market sale prices of all properties that sold the previous year with their assessment at the time of sale to see how far apart they are. This comparison gives us an idea of how the overall market had changed over that time, but unfortunately not much about a single home.

The Assessment ratio is calculated by the Department of Revenue by statistically mashing up the sales prices of all the property that sold in a municipality, including residential, commercial and industrial parcels, even though these kinds of properties perform very differently from each other. It is then compared to the assessed value of these properties to find the ratio between the two.

At the end of the day, the EFMV and assessment ratio are meant to help City and State officials know when a market-adjusted Citywide Revaluation is necessary rather than anything specific about any individual property.

Show All Answers

1. What does an Assessor Do?
2. What are property taxes for?
3. What do the terms on the tax bill mean?
4. What is a Revaluation?
5. What is a “valid” or Market Sale?
6. How do I know if my assessment is fair?
7. I have recently built a new home. Will cost to build my property be considered when my assessment is calculated?
8. The Estimated Fair Market Value shown on my tax bill is more than I think my house is worth, what do I do?
9. Does the location of my property influence its value?
10. If after discussing my assessment with the Assessor’s office staff I still think the assessment is not correct, what should I do?
11. What happens if you review my property after I buy it or take out a building permit; if you discover something that isn’t on your records, will my assessment increase?
12. Can my assessment change in the years between citywide revaluations?
13. Can the assessment on my property be changed even if the assessor has not been inside my property?
14. How can my assessment change when I haven't done anything to my property?
15. Will I be notified if there is a change in my assessment?
16. I just purchased my home for less (or more) than the assessed value. Will you change my assessment to match my sale price?
17. The family across the street was foreclosed on by the bank who sold their home for a lot less than the assessed value; isn't that proof my assessment should be lowered?
18. If market values do go down, doesn’t that mean our taxes should decrease along with them?
19. What if I think my assessment might not be Correct?
20. Why am I paying taxes on an assessment that's higher than my property is worth?
21. How does the assessor value property?
22. I have a refinance appraisal – Will you change my assessment to the appraiser’s value?
23. Why do assessors avoid considering foreclosure or estate sales when calculating assessments?
24. What will happen to my assessment if I improve my property?
25. Will my assessment go up if I repair my property?
26. How does my assessment affect taxes?
27. Do the market values of all properties change at the same rate and over the same time frame?
28. What happens after the Board of Review makes its decision?
29. What is the Board of Review?
30. What is the Board of Review and what evidence do I need to present during a hearing?
31. I have heard that property values have gone down dramatically all across the Country recently, how does West Allis compare?