WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — After a massive spike in Sedgwick County property valuations, the county appraiser is speaking out about a state metric he fears could be resulting in incomplete data.
Sedgwick County Appraiser Mark Clark says because his position is an appointed (and not elected) one, his office is the only one in the tax department graded by the KDOR’s Property Valuation Division (PVD). However, Clark argues that had the county been allowed to use its own numbers, the average property valuation increase this year might not have been so steep.
“That is a major problem,” Clark said.
So how does the state metric work? The PVD takes a sample size of homes sold in Sedgwick County each year and grades the Appraiser’s Office on what’s called the “median ratio”: that’s the appraiser’s estimated value of a home divided by what the home actually sold for in the end.
If that number is above 100%, the state considers that property over-appraised. If it’s under 100%, that property is considered under-appraised.
To stay in compliance, the Appraiser’s Office must achieve a median ratio of at least 90% across the homes sampled. But in 2022, that ratio was 76.6%.
“The way to get ’em back in is to typically increase the property values to get the ratio into compliance,” Bob Kent, Deputy Director of the PVD, said.
However, Clark says the state’s sample size to get to that median ratio is too small—less than 10% of Sedgwick County homes sold in 2022 were included in the sample size, and that sample only includes homes sold from April to early June.
“I want to be able to look across a representative sample, the months, and then, you know, 10 percent roughly, of, of all the sales,” Clark said. “They don’t do it that way.”
Kent argues a study of all 12,000 homes sold in Sedgwick County last year is unnecessary.
“Statistically … we don’t get any better results if we use all 12,000 parcels than if we use, say, 400, and I think 400 is, is, is maybe a target that we shoot for,” Kent said.
However, according to a PVD report, only 215 homes sold in Sedgwick County were sampled.
“They took a sample of 215, well, that’s not very representative of that 12,000, I have a problem with that, and I, I’ve voiced that,” Clark said.
In comparison, the Appraiser’s Office conducted a study of 4,800 homes sold last year. The office’s median ratio was 81%—almost five percentage points higher than the state’s number, which would have resulted in a less steep increase in property valuations from the average of 10 percent amongst Sedgwick County homeowners.
Clark says the Director of the PVD will be reviewing the processes and procedures of the PVD’s Ratio Study Committee (who oversees the metrics used to determine the median ratio) but could not give KSN News an exact timeline of that review process.