Translating complex commercial property language

Sometimes looking at commercial real estate language feels like learning the language of quantum physics. At first glance, the language seems overly and unnecessarily complex. But just like quantum physics, or any other profession, the language is there for a reason, to ensure accuracy and specificity.

Cap Rate

According to Investopedia, Cap Rate, short for Capitalization Rate, is the expected rate of generated return on an investment property. While it’s not exactly quantum mechanics, it does involve some simple math. Basically, Cap Rate is a percentage calculated by dividing the net operating income by the property asset value. It’s not meant to be the only measure used to estimate the profitability of a property, but is a useful tool to get a rough idea of an investor’s potential return on a commercial real estate investment.

Capitalization Rate = Net Operating Income / Current Market Value

There are other ways to measure Cap Rate, but this Chalk board with equations method is the most common and a good place to start understanding the subject.

Net Operating Income

Since we use Net Operating Income in our formula, we should go ahead and explain what that means in commercial real estate. Bungalow defines Net Operating Income (NOI) as “a real estate term representing a property’s gross operating income, minus its operating expenses. Calculated annually, it is useful for estimating the revenue potential of an investment property. NOI is not affected by how you finance a property—whether you get a mortgage or buy with all cash.”

Net Operating Income = Gross Operating Income – Operating Expenses

Current Market Value

This one is more complex than we have time for in a blog, but it’s worth reading Investopedia’s summary of Current Market Value as it relates to commercial real estate. In fact, this site is a good resource for many terms you’ll encounter in commercial real estate. But as with any online resources, it’s often worth finding more than one source if you’re looking to truly understand a topic.

You can also always reach out to us with questions about complex property language. We’re here to help and we would rather take the time to fully explain a topic than leave you confused. We’re certainly not experts in our clients’ businesses, and don’t expect you to be an expert in ours. We’re here to help every step of the way. Never hesitate to get in touch.

Scott County Property Tax Assessments

It’s time to think about property taxes. Real estate prices surged in 2020 and again in 2021. This is great if you’re selling a property, but not so great if you’re buying or facing an assessment that is going to raise your property taxes.

According to the Scott County Assessor, a combination of historically low interest rates, reduced property inventory in the county and throughout the Quad Cities, and increased local demand all sent property values to never-before-seen highs, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The Scott County Assessor is required by law to adjust assessed property values every two years, and 2021 is that year. This means assessments will rise for most properties in line with the local real estate market.

The Quad City Times has reported that  the average residential property increased by decorative tax incentive image about 8.5% in Scott County last year. Fortunately for commercial clients, those numbers were not as high for commercial properties. Commercial and industrial properties increased by about 6.5% in the county. Unfortunately, if your commercial real estate portfolio includes apartments and other multi-family dwellings, those values increased by about 13%. Unless you’re planning to sell and take in the profits in a hot real estate market, you’re going to be looking at a higher tax assessment.

There is a bit of good news for those commercial property owners who also own homes in Scott County. Homeowners in the county can now sign up for Homestead, Military, and BPTC property tax credits online. This is a new service provided by Scott County that should make life just a little bit easier for property owners. To qualify, the property owner must be a resident of Iowa, pay Iowa income tax, and occupy the property on July 1, and for at least six months of every year.

At this point in the year, there’s not much recourse for property owners who feel their assessments are too high. The deadline to appeal was in April. 

While no one enjoys paying higher taxes, it’s worth remembering that these higher tax assessments mean your commercial property is worth more than ever before. If you’ve been thinking about selling properties, now may be the time to lock in and take those profits. If you want to hold onto those properties, it’s worth looking ahead to 2023 when the next assessments will go into effect.

For more information, contact the Scott County Assessor’s Office at 563-326-8635, email assessor@scottcountyiowa.gov, or contact us.

It is time to review your property tax assessment in Iowa!

Iowa properties can be reassessed each year, at of the assessor’s opinion of the market value of your property, so it is a good idea to check assessments annually. Additionally, the Iowa Department of Revenue reviews sales data, and can apply equalizers to assessments, separate from the Assessor’s work, which is another reason why you should review your tax assessment.

Notably, the assessed value is as of January 1, 2021. This will allow for consideration of any Covid-19 related impacts on property values.

Iowa tax assessments for 2020 will be out on April 2nd, but it is best to obtain the assessor information relevant to your assessment well before then. Each county has its own assessment office, and several cities, including Davenport, Clinton and Dubuque have separate assessment offices. They all have websites where you can access the property record card.

Has your assessment changed in the past couple years? Even if it hasn’t changed, if you believe the value is wrong, obtain a copy of the property record card. These are available are online for the assessor’s offices (Scott County and the City of Davenport use the same on-line system).

Review the information on the Property Record Card and be sure the land size and building size information are correct. Check the year built to be sure that is correct. If there are any errors, ask the assessor to update the information and revalue the property. Be sure the card recognizes any other changes to the property in the recent past, especially any buildings that have been removed.

If the value is too high, you can protest the assessment at the County Board of Review. The Scott County Assessor’s site lists Five Steps to An Appeal on their website, which should be applicable in other jurisdictions.

If you are unable to obtain an adjustment prior to the April 2nd date, you will need to file an appeal to the Board of Review. This is generally an informal process. Information on filing a property tax appeal can be found here. Similar information is available on other county websites. The taxpayer may ask the board to act on their appeal without a hearing. You may also request a hearing. With the Covid-19 rules, these hearings may be virtual.

Evidence supporting your opinion of value is needed whether or not you have a hearing. This can include sales of similar properties in the recent past, a recent appraisal for refinancing purposes, or an appraisal specifically requested for the appeal. Remember the date of the assessed value is January 1, 2021. The sales or appraisals need to be before, or shortly after, this date.

If you are still not satisfied with the assessment, an appeal can be filed with District Court or the State Appeal Board.

If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

A Guide to Iowa Property Tax Appeals