A street in Wichita's College Hill neighborhood
Nearly nine out of 10 residential homes in Sedgwick County, like these in College Hill, are increasing in value this year. (Alex Unruh/The Beacon)

Note: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that sales prices of nearby homes are available on the county appraiser’s website.

An overheated housing market across the nation is reflected in Sedgwick County’s housing valuations this year. 

In 2022, 88% of residential homes in Sedgwick County increased in value — about 158,467 of 180,076 homes. That’s the highest percentage of homes that saw value increases in at least nine years, according to a presentation by County Appraiser Mark Clark at a county commission meeting on Feb. 23.

The median increase in value is 7%, also the highest in nine years. 

Every year, the county appraiser’s office estimates each residential property’s fair market value. 

Residents’ property taxes are calculated using this value. It’s also used when the county commission decides to set the mill levy. 

How residential property taxes are calculated
Appraised value x 11.5% = assessed value
Assessed value x mill levy = property tax

A mill levy is the tax rate applied to the assessed value of property. One mill is one dollar per $1,000 dollars of assessed value.

To see how your property taxes are distributed by jurisdiction — county, city, state and school district — type your address into Sedgwick County’s GIS Tax viewer.  

Property valuation notices were mailed March 1. 

Worried about what new appraisals mean for your property taxes? Think your house was overvalued or undervalued by Sedgwick County’s appraiser’s office? 

The Wichita Beacon put together a guide to appealing your property appraisal. 

How does the county appraiser value residential property?

Homes are valued by Jan. 1 each year. Most residential properties are valued based on their fair market value — the amount buyers would pay and sellers would accept for property in an open market. 

The appraiser can use a couple of methods to determine a house’s value, including estimating the cost to build the piece of property and reviewing sale prices of similar homes.

How do I know if my property is valued accurately?

First, you can check the county’s property appraisal website. Type in your address to make sure the information recorded about your property — including number of bedrooms, square footage and condition — is accurate. This will also provide a property record card for a more detailed overview. 

The county’s property appraisal website has several other resources, under the “documents/reports” tab. One is a cost report, which breaks down a property by the cost to replace different parts of it — like the garage, porch or plumbing. Another is a report for residential homeowners that lists five properties considered similar to yours in condition, quality, style, age and location. You can drive by these homes to see if they are similar to yours. 

Finally, residential property owners can request the values and sales prices of properties in their neighborhood, according to Clark. Sales prices of nearby homes are available under ‘nearby sales’ on the county’s property appraisal site. You can also request them from the Appraiser’s Information & Assistance Division. They can be contacted at 316-660-9261 or appraiser@sedgwick.gov. The office is also open during business hours at 271 W. Third St., Suite 501.

You can also check websites like Zillow for estimates of the home value and of nearby homes. 

How do I appeal my valuation?

Only owners whose properties have gained or lost value will receive valuation notices in the mail from Sedgwick County. These notices are sent out March 1. Property owners who did not receive their valuation notice in the mail can access it on the county’s property appraisal website. The appraiser’s office can also email, fax or mail residents this information upon request. 

To appeal, fill out the back page of the notice and mail it to the appraiser’s office by March 31. Property owners can also scan it or take a picture of the page with a phone and email it to the office, Clark said.

The first step after you make an appeal is an informal meeting with a representative from the Sedgwick County’s appraiser’s office. At this meeting, the county will describe its valuation of your property. This is also an opportunity for you to show evidence of why you believe the valuation is incorrect. 

The county will mail you the results of the informal meeting.

What do I bring to the meeting?

The state’s guide to property tax appeals recommends the following items to show appraisers their valuation is incorrect: 

  • Photos of any structural damage that hadn’t been considered by the county, as well as contract/engineering estimates of the cost to repair it.
  • Recent sales information about properties that are similar in condition, quality, age, style and location. 
  • A sales contract for your property if it was purchased in the last 2 to 3 years.
  • A recent appraisal report by an independent appraiser.

For a list of independent appraisers in Wichita or Sedgwick County, check out the Kansas Real Estate Appraisal Board’s appraiser directory.

What if I don’t like the outcome of the informal meeting?

There are several options if you disagree with the outcome of the informal meeting.

First, you can appeal to the Small Claims & Expedited Hearing Division of the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals. If your property is a single-family residence or has a value below $3 million and is not agricultural land, this is where to start. 

If you aren’t satisfied with the outcome of the small-claims division, you can appeal the decision to the Board of Tax Appeals. You must file the appeal within 30 days from the decision of the small-claims division. 

Here’s a list of forms that need to be filed with the Board of Tax Appeals or its small-claims division.

If you choose not to appeal the informal meeting results, you can hire a Kansas certified real property appraiser to perform a third-party appraisal. This has to be done within 60 days of receiving the results of the informal meeting. You can send this to the county appraiser’s office for them to reconsider your property’s valuation.

What’s the deadline for filing an appeal?

You have to file the appeal with the county by March 31. 

If you don’t file an appeal by then, you can also submit a “payment under protest” later in the year. These can’t be filed later than Dec. 20. Here is a tax protest form to file with the county appraiser’s office.

What happens if I start the appeals process, but end up abandoning it?

If you start the appeals process but do not follow through with it, you cannot appeal again later that year. You also can’t pay under protest, as described above.

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Celia Hack is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, she worked at The Wichita Beacon covering local government and as a freelancer for The Shawnee Mission Post and the Kansas Leadership...