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?
Assessments are almost never lowered due to sales of foreclosed homes. Foreclosed properties are being marketed by lenders who have seized them for non-payment and under pressure to dispose of the property as soon as possible to meet Federal restrictions on Banks owning real estate. This “duress” frequently results in heavy discounts and short marketing times.

While there have been more foreclosure-related sales since 2008 than any time during the past 20 years, foreclosure sales have always been part of the market. In this downturn, Wisconsin has fared better than most states as real estate values adjust to the economic climate.

Just as foreclosure-related sales are frequently not an indicator of market value when values are rising, they are not necessarily an indicator of value in a declining market and are not normally considered by the assessor when determining the market value of property in a community. However, if many discounted properties are available to buyers in a given market, all other properties must reduce their prices to compete. In this way market sales prices are negatively influenced by the presence of discount properties in a market.

In fact, Wisconsin law, appraisal standards, and Wisconsin courts, require very specific criteria for a sale to be considered as a reliable indicator of market value.

Two of the most important of these criteria are whether the sale occurred under duress (such as a forced sale) and whether the property had adequate market exposure. For example, a property that sells two weeks after it is listed may have sold quickly because it was under-priced. This may be an indication of a duress situation, requiring closer review by the assessor, to verify whether it was an arm’s length transaction. In most cases, looking at non-foreclosure sales is the most reliable way to gauge what is actually happening with neighborhood values.

There are times when the majority of homes that are selling in your neighborhood tend to be around the same price as foreclosure-related sales. In this case, they may represent a reasonable picture of market value

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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?