On the Winning Side of Property Tax Assessments

Many residential and commercial businesses faced large tax assessment hikes for the 2023 year. Some commercial assessments increased well over 25% between 2022 to 2023. The County and City Assessors typically do a good job of capturing the sales data, but in setting values for some properties, they sometimes land at assessments outside the market norms. That is when an appraisal is helpful.

Roy R. Fisher has been providing appraisals for over 90 years, helping hundreds of Iowa and Illinois businesses and multi-family property owners appeal their tax assessments. Through July of this year, Roy R. Fisher worked with several property owners to appeal their assessments. We were successful at the Board of Review level in helping the owners get reductions in 11 of 13 appeals where an appraisal was developed. The average reduction from the preliminary 2023 assessments was over 17%. In two cases, the reduction was more than 30% in the preliminary 2023 assessed value.

And we don’t just work with property owners. We have performed several appraisals for City and County Assessors throughout Iowa and Illinois, primarily valuing larger retail and industrial properties. This has helped Assessors and County Boards of Review defend their assessments. These appraisals require extensive demographic analysis and a wide regional search for comparable data.

Our firm strives to serve all our clients with impartiality and a commitment to credibility.

Meet Jordan Maus: Commercial Appraiser and Vice Chair of the Real Estate Appraisal Examining Board for the State of Iowa

Jordan Maus began his appraisal career in 2008, in Chicago, IL. After gaining valuable experience in such a large market, he returned to the Quad Cities two year later. In January 2012, he joined Roy R. Fisher as an Associate Appraiser. He then earned his license to become a Certified General Real Property Appraiser in 2013 and has been licensed in Iowa and Illinois ever since. While he works primarily on assignments for loan underwriting, Jordan can handle any appraisal task that comes his way.

“I noticed from the time he first arrived, Jordan had a keen eye for detail,” says Roy R. Fisher President, Mark Nelson. “He’s efficient with his time and always goes above and beyond.”

One way Jordan continues to excel in this field is through his appointment to the Real Estate Appraisal Examining Board for the State of Iowa. He has been a member of the Board since May of 2020. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Board and sits on the Discipline and Peer Reviewer Committees.

Serving on this Board allows Jordan to give back to the appraisal industry. The Discipline Committee takes their service seriously and ensures integrity in the industry throughout Iowa. Their efforts may mean disciplinary action in some cases. This can include assigning appraisers additional training and education to help improve their work and ensure USPAP compliance in every appraisal report.

In his day-to-day work for Roy R. Fisher, Jordan is responsible for writing appraisal reports, general property research, real estate market analysis, and sales/lease research. Additionally, he reconciles income/expense data and performs property inspections. Jordan is deliberate about the appraisal tasks he takes on, but he handles every assignment with finesse.

The industry has largely remained constant throughout Jordan’s career with Roy R. Fisher. “The biggest change,” he says, “has been improvements in technology and report writing software.” While technology makes writing reports and gathering data more efficient, it always takes an expert appraiser to do the job thoroughly and properly.

Jordan focuses on the Quad Cities region, which includes Scott County, in Iowa, and Rock Island County, in Illinois, though sometimes he serves other nearby communities such as Muscatine, Burlington, Iowa City, Clinton, and Dubuque, as well as smaller communities in Illinois. “We try to avoid encroaching on other appraisers primary markets,” says Jordan. “However, we are happy to help out when our colleagues call for help.”

Assisting fellow appraisers, whether it’s in a nearby market, or by serving on the Real Estate Appraisal Examining Board, makes Jordan a strong member of the Roy R. Fisher team and the broader appraisal community.

How to Become an Appraiser

The Appraisal Foundation is the place to start learning about becoming an appraiser. The licensing requirements are set and can be found online from the Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB). It is relatively standardized on a national basis. The AQB requires 75 Hours of qualifying education. To move from apprentice to fully licensed appraiser, 150 hours of qualifying education are required. All of this information can be found on the Appraisal Foundation website.

Those hours as a trainee or apprentice are often the more difficult part of entering the appraisal business. Appraisal education is available in every state, but working as an apprentice means it’s necessary to find a licensed appraiser to take one on as an apprentice. For those who are interested, it’s well worth the effort.

Roy R. Fisher just happens to currently be looking for someone to come on board as an apprentice. From a skillset point of view, commercial appraisers need to be able to communicate clearly. I really want to find somebody who can write. The ability to communicate is even more important to the job than having an expertise in finance or accounting. Finance and analysis can be learned on the job. That’s not to say the math doesn’t matter, there is a lot of math, yet most of it is done in spreadsheets that calculate the math automatically.

The new employee will be mentored in research, inspection, analysis and the reporting required to develop commercial appraisals. With proficiency in Word and Excel, and good communication skills, a career as an appraiser is an excellent opportunity.

We have a shortage of appraisers. The average age of commercial appraisers in our region has increased, with several recent retirements.  According to Zippia, the average age of appraisers is 49 years old.  That means there’s a lot of opportunity for younger professionals to enter this field. It’s a good time to get into the business.

The joy of the job for me is that I don’t punch a clock. Most appraisers work in small businesses. I answer to myself, and as long as my employees produce good work, they’re free to set their own schedule.

For more information about becoming an appraiser, see the Appraisal Foundation website. To apply to work as a trainee at Roy R. Fisher, contact Mark Nelson at marknelson@royrfisher.com or 563-355-6606.