KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – A Jackson County real estate investor says he’s discovered the Jackson County property assessment is flawed and completely uneven.

Slawik Pech owns lots and homes in different sections of the city. He noticed a giant difference in land values and said that based on what the numbers show, it’s time to stop the whole process and start over.

“It’s like a product recall. You only need a couple people before they pull from market and fix that harm,” he explained.

Two vacant lots Pech owns were valued less than $5,000 last year, but now those two lots are valued by the county at around $45,000!

The lot next to the pair was assessed by a commercial appraiser, who valued that property at only $4,140.

So what’s the true value of the real estate? KCTV5 News tracked down the man who bought the adjacent lot in March. He said he paid $6,500.

Pech told KCTV5 News he is confident he can fight the county on the sky-high value and win based on the sale price the neighboring lot. He still questions how the rest of the neighborhood would fare, though, since that sky-high appraiser nailed all the low-income neighbors in the area, too.

“I know how to fight this… but I know neighbors who don’t have the resources, they don’t have the comparables!” he said.

Many homeowners in that section of town are probably scratching their heads wondering how their home values increased. They may not realize it’s not their houses but rather the land that threw off the values.

How the assessment was done

Jackson County spent $567,519 in outside consultants to make sure this assessment was done correctly. Director of Assessment Gail McCann Beatty told KCTV5 News there were 15 appraisers, but it appears those 15 appraisers didn’t check in with each other.

At least one appraiser went absolutely nuts with land values, with spikes in property values that can be seen in different sections of the city.

190621_Property-Tax-Problems-Pt5_Linwood assessment increases residential vs commercial.jpg

A map of properties along Linwood Boulevard shows how much higher residential properties, seen here outline in green, are being valued compared to commercial properties, outlined in blue.

The wild changes can be seen in the property values on Linwood Boulevard. It’s obvious the residential appraiser spiked land values 600% or more, but the commercial appraiser did not, though those land values did double.

When the locations of the lots and their sizes are considered, it is clear to see the commercial property owners are getting a deal and the residential land owners are paying much more.

Real estate experts say this is completely backwards, noting that If anything, commercial values should be higher.

What happened to your assessment?

Finding the information on how assessments changed is not easy. It’s not on the notice sent out by the county.

Instead, homeowners have to hunt for it. The county does have an online map that claims to help homeowner discover the information.

There are a number of steps homeowners have to follow to use the map, though:

  1. Enter the property’s address, then
  2. Click on their property on the map, then
  3. Click on “View Property Report,” then
  4. In the new page click on the tab titled “Value Information.”

DID YOUR JACKSON COUNT PROPERTY SPIKE IN VALUE? TELL US AT INVESTIGATE@KCTV5.COM

Homeowner Shawn Colby contacted KCTV5 about his assessment because the property value on his home almost tripled.

Colby plans to fight it, noting there are foundation issues with the home and saying there’s no way the house was worth what the county was assessing it to be.

Looking up his home’s “value information” showed that last year the county said his land was worth $19,000.

This year the county valued it at $144,000!

Pech says that kind of gross over-assessment shows just how bad of a problem this is, and he thinks there is only one way to fix it.

“It’s a fail! It should be a fail! It should be an all-out recall and start over with the correct formula.”

County response

A spokesperson with Jackson County responded to concerns raised by KCTV5 News by saying any taxpayer may appeal their assessment. The deadline for those appeals is Monday, however.

Pech noted that many homeowners may not have realized the increase in land value caused the hike in the assessments.

He pointed out that the top of the notices sent out by the county read “THIS IS NOT A TAX BILL,” so there is a good chance many homeowners will miss the mistake. Those notice did not break down the changes, either – property owners have to use the online tools to find that information.

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