Real Property Appraisal FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions about property appraisal

Common Property Assessment Questions

  1. What are Assessment and Reassessment?
  2. How Often is Property Reassessed?
  3. What Happens in the Even Year?
  4. What Types of Properties are There?
  5. Is All Property Taxed?
  6. Why is Reassessment Necessary?
  7. Who is Responsible for Reassessing Property?
  8. What is Market Value?
  9. How is My Assessment Level Established?
  10. How are the Real Estate Classifications Determined?
  11. How Does the Assessor Know What Personal Property I Have?
  12. How Does the Assessor Value My Real Property?
  13. Will All Property Values Change Due to Reassessment?
  14. If No Improvements Have Been Made to My Property, Why Should the Assessed Value Increase?
  15. Will I be Notified If There is An Increase in My Assessment?
  16. What If I Disagree With My Reassessment?

1. What are Assessment and Reassessment?

Assessment is the process of placing value on a property for the purpose of property taxation. Reassessment is an update of all real property assessments in the City, conducted by the Assessor to equalize values among taxpayers and to adjust values to current market conditions.

2. How Often is Property Reassessed?

Reassessed values of real estate are placed on the tax rolls by the Assessor every odd-numbered year (2011, 2013, etc.). Personal property is assessed every year.

3. What Happens in the Even Year?

For most real estate owners, nothing. However, if new construction, rehabilitation or renovation have taken place, the property's market value is adjusted to reflect the added value of the new construction. If some type of destruction occurs such as fire or flood the value is then adjusted to reflect the decrease in value. The total value is based upon the market conditions as of January 1 of the preceding year.

4. What Types of Properties are There?

Three types of property:

  1. Real Property- includes land, improvements to the land and all rights inherent in ownership. When you receive an assessment notice or tax bill for your house, business property, etc., you will notice that land and improvements are listed separately. Improvements consist of any buildings located on that land (e.g. your house). This has nothing to do with improvements (e.g. rehabilitation, renovation or repairs) you have or have not made to your property.
  2. Personal Property - any property that is not real property, that is, not permanently affixed to part of real estate. Personal property includes cars, boats and farm equipment, and business assets.
  3. Intangible Property (e.g. copyrights and patents) - is not taxable in Missouri.

5. Is All Property Taxed?

No. Some personal property is exempt, including household goods, inventories for sale, wearing apparel and items of personal use and adornment. For most people, a car is the only taxable item of personal property in Missouri. Exempt real estate includes property owned by governments, and property used as non-profit cemeteries, exclusively for religious worship, for schools and colleges, and for purely charitable purposes. However, exemption is not automatic, and it is the responsibility of the property owner to show the property should be exempt from ad valorem taxes.

6. Why is Reassessment Necessary?

Under Missouri's Constitution, all assessments for property tax purposes must be based upon market value and be uniform within the same class or subclass of property.

Over time, the value of property may change, depending upon its nature, location, and other factors. Some values change more rapidly than others. Reassessment is the only way to be sure that the taxpayer is being taxed fairly, and is taxed the same as other comparable property.

7. Who is Responsible for Reassessing Property?

The City Assessor is primarily responsible for assessing property within the City. However, the Assessor's work is subject to review by the City's Board of Equalization and the State Tax Commission. The State Tax Commission is the state agency charged with general supervision of assessors and with enforcing property tax laws.

8. What is Market Value?

Market value, true value in money and appraised value have the same meaning under Missouri law. A simple definition of market value is the price the property would bring when offered for sale by a person who is willing but not obligated to sell it, and is bought by a person who is willing to purchase it but who is not forced to do so.

9. How is My Assessment Level Established?

Once the estimate of market value has been determined, the Assessor calculates a percentage of that value to arrive at assessed value. The percentage is based on the classification, determined by the type of property or how it is used. The percentages are:

Real Estate Personal
Residential 19% Cars, Boats, Other 33 1/3%
Agricultural 12% * Farm Equip., Livestock 12%
Commercial & All Other 32% Historic Autos 5%

Grain 1/2%

* There is no Agricultural real estate in the City of St. Louis.

10. How are the Real Estate Classifications Determined?

Missouri statutes define the three subclass of real estate:

Subclass 1- Residential property, all real property improved by a structure which is used or intended to be used for residential living by human occupants, vacant land in connection with an airport, land used as a golf course, and manufactured home parks, but residential property shall not include facilities used primarily for transient housing: hotels, motels, or other forms of short-term housing.

Subclass 2- Agricultural and Horticultural property is that which is actively used for those purposes. The value of this land is established by its productivity, based on soil productivity guidelines set by the State Tax Commission. It is not based on market value. However, when the highest and best use of land is considered to be agricultural, and it is not actively farmed, it is assessed according to market value and not by productivity guidelines.

Subclass 3- Utility, industrial, commercial and railroad property, and any other real estate that does not fit either of the other two classes. Includes mines, stores, factories and property of non profit corporations.

11. How Does the Assessor Know What Personal Property I Have?

The Assessor sends out blank assessment forms early each year. It is your responsibility to send a completed form to the Assessor by April 1, listing all taxable personal property you owned on January 1. If your form is late, the penalty is twenty-five (25) percent of the total assessed value. The Assessor may contact you to follow up if the form is not complete.

12. How Does the Assessor Value My Real Property?

A number of methods are used. The Assessor's staff looks at new construction that has taken place, sales prices of comparable property located nearby, the condition of your property, and any other factors that can help place an accurate value on the property.

Three techniques are available:

  1. Cost Approach- First, the value of the land is estimated, as if vacant. The Assessor than adds the amount it would take to replace your structure with one of similar utility, including current costs of materials and labor, profit, overhead, permit fees, and the like. If your structure is not new, the Assessor then approximates depreciation from all causes, and subtracts that from the calculation of replacement cost.
  2. Market (sales comparison) Approach- Your property is evaluated based on comparable properties that have recently sold, and adjusted for differences, such as a garage, finished basement, or better location. Where there are frequent sales and similarities in properties, this can be the most reliable approach for residential property.
  3. Income Approach- This approach works well for apartments, shopping centers and office buildings. The Assessor estimates potential gross income from rentals, then subtracts an amount for vacancies and operating expenses. The amount of net income is then converted to a value for the property, using a process called capitalization.

13. Will All Property Values Change Due to Reassessment?

All values are likely to change, but not all will change to the same extent. Market values increase more in some neighborhoods than in others. A major purpose of reassessment is to make sure that the new values reflect all changes that have occurred.

14. If No Improvements Have Been Made to My Property, Why Should the Assessed Value Increase?

Over time market value changes even if no improvements are made to the property. Many people sell their homes for much more than they paid for them years earlier. The statutes require that property be periodically reassessed to maintain realistic market values and treat all taxpayers fairly. We often get calls at bill time where taxpayers do not understand a raise in the tax amount. In many cases the assessed amount has not changed but the tax rate has making the tax amount due higher than the previous year.

15. Will I be Notified If There is An Increase in My Assessment?

The Assessor is required by the statutes to notify the owner of record of any increase in the valuation of real property and personal property.

16. What If I Disagree With My Reassessment?

(The following information applies to the Change of Assessment Notices mailed out in May 2015)

By state law, all property must be reassessed every two years. The State Tax Commission oversees the local reassessment process and is charged with the task of assuring that assessments reflect changes in market values.

Tax revenue increases due to reassessment are limited under state law. Your new assessment notice will include an estimate of the 2015 taxes on your property. The actual tax rates will be set by the taxing authorities later this year.

Seniors and Disabled Individuals

The Missouri Property Tax Credit Claim gives credit to certain senior citizens and 100 percent disabled individuals for a portion of the real estate taxes or rent they have paid for the year.

If you think you may qualify, call St. Louis Area Agency on Aging at (314) 612-5918 for more information.

If you have any questions concerning the appraised value of your property, please call:
  • For Residential Property: (314) 589-6581
  • For Commercial Property: (314) 589-6586

Appeal Process

After you receive your new assessment notice in May, there are three steps you can take in the appeal process if you do not agree with your assessment. Remember that an assessment is based on current market value and our objective here is to establish the correct market value of the property. Stating that property taxes are too high is not relevant testimony. You should determine what you believe to be the value of your property and gather and present evidence that supports that value. Such evidence could include photographs, the recent sale of your property, or the oral testimony of someone who has done a recent appraisal of your property.

Step 1: Informal Appeals

You may schedule a meeting with the appraisal staff to review the appraised value and to verify the information in the Assessor's Records. Meetings will be scheduled with owners or their authorized representative by appointment only. A request for a meeting must be made within (15) days from receipt of the Change of Assessment Notice by calling:
  • For Residential Property: (314) 589-6581
  • For Commercial Property: (314) 589-6586

Between 8:00 AM and5:00 PM,Monday through Friday.

All meetings must be completed prior to July 1st.

During an informal meeting with the Assessor or one of the staff , you can learn how your assessment was made, what factors were considered, and what type of records pertain to your property. Many disagreements are taken care of at this level. Notices are mailed in May of each reassessment year.

Step 2: Board of Equalization

If not satisfied after the informal meeting, you may appeal to the Board of Equalization. Forms for appeal to the Board of Equalization must be requested in person or by writing to:

Board of Equalization
Room 120
City Hall
St. Louis MO 63103

Your appeal must be placed with the Assessor's Office by thesecond Monday in July. The board will conduct hearings by appointment beginning the first Monday in July through the fourth Saturday in August. The board will hear evidence from the Assessor and you regarding the value of the property which is the subject of the appeal. You do not have to appear in person before the Board of Equalization. You have the option of signing a waiver of attendance, and the Board will consider any evidence you return in-lieu of your attending a hearing.

Step 3: State Tax Commission

You have a right to appeal to the State Tax Commission by September 30 or within 30 days of receiving the decision of the St. Louis City Board of Equalization. An appeal must first be made to the Board of Equalization before the State Tax Commission may hear the appeal.

For more information on appeals to the State Tax Commission call 573-751-2414 or write to:

State Tax Commission
PO Box 146 
Rm. 840 - Harry S Truman Building
301 West High St.
Jefferson City, MO. 65102

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