South and west suburban properties to get break in assessments to reflect COVID-19 impact

“No Corona!” written in chalk on the sidewalk outside a Riverside home in April. | Brian Ernst/Sun-Times file

The goal is to cap rates that are often used as a factor in determining property values, according to a report titled Cook County Assessor’s COVID-19 Adjustments to Property Assessments in the South and West Suburbs.

The Cook County Assessor’s Office is planning to adjust some south and west suburban property assessments by as much as 12% for single family homes and as much as 15% for multi-family homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For commercial properties in the county, the assessor’s office is making a “range of adjustments” in the complex formula it uses to calculate assessments, based on how much the businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. That could range from little or no change for grocery stores, to significant reductions for neighborhood restaurants.

The goal is to cap rates that are often used as a factor in determining property values, according to a report titled Cook County Assessor’s COVID-19 Adjustments to Property Assessments in the South and West Suburbs.

The intersection of North Damen and North Milwaukee avenues in Chicago in March. Brian Rich/Sun-Times file
The intersection of North Damen and North Milwaukee avenues in Chicago in March.

The median adjustment the office may give for single-family homes and condominiums is a little over 10%, but ranges from an 8% reduction to as much as a 12.2% reduction. For multi-family homes, that median adjustment figure was 13.1% — and the range for potential reductions was between 10% and 15.2%, according to the report.

To put that in context, a home with an initial estimated value of $200,000, and a COVID-19 adjustment of 10%, would have an estimated market value of $180,000 by the assessor’s office.

That assessed value is one of the factors that helps to determine the homeowners’ eventual property tax bill.

The report comes after Assessor Fritz Kaegi announced last month that all homes, businesses and other real estate parcels could see their property values adjusted to help reflect COVID-19’s effect on the market.

The first-term assessor said analysts in his office are looking for data from natural disasters and other economic crises to understand what could happen to property values in Cook County, but even with those comparisons, the challenge coronavirus presents is unmatched.

Empty sidewalk in front of suburban bungalows in Berwyn in March. Brian Ernst/Sun-Times file
Empty sidewalk in front of suburban bungalows in Berwyn in March.

“This is different because, for all of us to be safe and to get ahead of [coronavirus], we’ve had to shut down so many different sectors of the economy and economic activity,” Kaegi said at the time.

“We’re trying to be mindful of all of that and try to reflect as best we can with the data that we have how the crisis is affecting different people’s lives,” Kaegi said. “We know that we won’t be perfect in that — the future is a little bit unknown, and how this crisis unfolds is uncertain, but we’re going to be doing the best we can. We figure it’s better to do that, rather than proceed as if nothing had happened.”

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