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Vanguard appraisals nearing completion in Cavalier County

By now Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. and their representatives are a familiar sight around the county.

Posted on 9/21/17

By Lisa Nowatzki

Field staff have been collecting data from the area since the beginning of the summer.

Commercial property assessments began on June 5th and residential property assessments began on June 19th. Most of the data collection is done or nearing completion.

Most everyone can agree that the reappraisal of residential and commercial property process is complicated. Even the initial planning process is fairly involved. Vanguard associates began working quite a while before the data collectors appeared around Langdon.

According to Bob Ehler of Vanguard Assessments, to ensure that each property owner gets the fairest and most up-to-date assessment and before any data is collected, several parameters are created.

First, parcels are created for each owner. Each parcel record contains as much data from the old property records as can be gathered. These records contains the legal description and legal owner’s name. They also contain other data such as the age of the structure or property.

Next, route maps are created so no property is missed and the land size of each parcel is verified.

Finally, the listing procedures are setup. Items to be included and priced or items to be excluded are established. This ensures that all data collectors are gathering the same points of data.

Then the data collection begins. When the personnel come out, they inspect each property inside and out. First, the outside of the home/building is examined, the basement is inspected, the first floor inspected and finally the upper floors are examined.

Outside, examiners note the type of foundation, type of siding, style of roof, and roof covering. Inside, the size of the basement, room count, finished or not, floor coverings, ceiling and wall finishes, and types of fixtures are jotted down.

For exterior buildings, the size, room count, and number of vehicles if it is a garage is recorded. Assessors also want to know about additions, remodeling dates, previous sales data and ages of all the structures. In short, data collectors want to know all the information that makes a property unique and valuable.

After all information has been gathered, the first data input begins. Data entry personnel enter all of the data collected. Errors and missing property information is flagged and corrected. Sales analysis information is entered then the review process begins

Employees then make a final input and final sales analysis input and information/error checks are done. From here, property owners are notified of their new assessment.

After the new assessment values are given, Vanguard holds informal hearings with the actual appraisers who set the value. At this time property owners’ concerns are noted and additional information is considered in the final appraisal value.

The importance of allowing Vanguard data collectors access to residential and commercial property cannot be stressed enough. Thus far, non-entry is not a problem for data collectors. Ehler is happy with the data collection portion of the project. He said, “We have received a good response in Cavalier County, an above average response.”

If a property has been missed or the owner was out, the property owner can still arrange for Vanguard associates to come back at a more convenient time and measure the property.

According to the Cavalier County Tax Director’s office, if the assessor doesn’t find anyone at home, he will leave a door hanger. If the property owner would like the Vanguard assessor to enter their residence, they will need to fill-out the door hanger and mail it in to the county tax director.

Property owners who do not allow Vanguard to assess their property, will not have any recourse if the owner disagrees with the valuation of the property. These property owners will have to allow Vanguard access to their property if they wish to dispute any assessment values.

Owners that allow data collection and measurement of their property have several avenues to take if they do not agree with Vanguard’s property assessments.

According to Ehler, after all the data collection and measuring for a property is done and the information is gathered, home and property owners will be given a chance to review the information and dispute anything the property owner feels is erroneous.

In October, the actual appraisers get to examine all the data collected. Once the appraisers finish, Vanguard turns over its conclusions to the county. Tax equalization notices are mailed to property owners.

After giving the county their conclusions, Vanguard sets up a website that allows all property owners to view and verify information on each property.

If the owner does not agree with the assessor’s conclusions or have questions, Vanguard associates will show the owner the process and data that makes up the assessment value compared to current like-property sales in the same area.

If a property owner still disagrees with the assessment, several other options are available.

If county property values are contested, then the owner can appeal to the County Tax Exemption Board and finally an owner can appeal to the North Dakota State Tax Exemption Board.

Throughout the entire assessment process, Ehler assures property owners that Vanguard and their associates will work with any resident that disagrees with the way a property was assessed or that disagrees with the assessment value.

The CAMAvision system Vanguard uses to assess property values uses several guidelines to arrive at a true and full market value. The system compares the replacement cost with sales in the area and with depreciation values. An appraiser then evaluates the physical property and a value is computed. According to Vanguard, property owners are assured that appraisers are independent and not guided by sales in the area and not by old or previous values.

If you have any questions concerning the Vanguard appraisal, call the County Tax Director’s Office at 701-256-2289.