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Chicago REALTORS® Help Homeowners Reduce Property Taxes

By HOM Editorial Team
July 2015

Chicago homeowners are taking control of their property taxes, thanks to the efforts of the Chicago Association of REALTORS®.

“We’re doing something a little different to help homeowners with property taxes here in Chicago,” says Brian Bernardoni, the CAR’s director of government affairs. “We are training REALTORS® on how to use the tax assessment process to reach out to their existing and potential clients, and to then help those people file — and win — residential appeals.”

The project started several years ago during the mortgage crisis when then-Mayor Richard M. Daley reached out to the CAR for help. Chicago’s assessment system, in which the Cook County Assessor’s Office assessed property values every three years, left homeowners tied to artificially inflated property values and the associated taxes with no opportunity to challenge assessments until the start of the next three-year cycle.

The CAR’s advocacy resulted in the county revising its rules. Homeowners were allowed to challenge and correct their tax assessments long before the next cycle. As a result, an estimated 30,000 people were able to save their homes.

When the CAR started its advocacy project, the idea was seen as controversial and reactionary. Now, it is praised as visionary.

But the CAR hasn’t stopped there. It is working to empower homeowners to take a proactive approach to the assessment process. Using resources already at their disposal, REALTORS® reach out to homeowners and offer to assist them in the appeal process.

“We’re pretty passionate about the property tax thing,” Bernardoni says.

Not only do REALTORS® offer to explain the appeal process and help homeowners complete the necessary paperwork, “REALTORS® are able to provide comps for direct appeals to the [Cook County] Board of Review,” he says.

Giving homeowners the tools they need to save money on property taxes not only helps in the short term, it helps when they are ready to sell. A lower tax assessment doesn’t lower the home’s market value, but it does make the home more attractive to buyers.

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