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Hello, assessor ...

Every year a county or city assessor does a drive-by survey of every parcel of property in the district.

Once every five years assessors are required to conduct an inspection of the inside of a home, said Kandiyohi County Assessor Tim Falkum. Inspections are required earlier if construction or demolition takes place.

There are about 28,000 parcels in Kandiyohi County, which means assessors must tour more than 5,000 homes each year.

Falkum said homeowners are not contacted ahead of time to set up appointments for tours, but an assessor does not enter a home unless an adult homeowner is present and consents to let the assessor in.

He said assessors are looking at the square footage of the house, the roof, foundation, quality of construction and structural integrity of the home, as well as the type of flooring, windows and kitchen cabinets. They're not looking at how big the TV in the living room is or the dirty clothes lying on the floor of the bedroom, he said.

General maintenance and up-keep of a home, like painting the exterior of a house, isn't likely to increase the estimated market value, said Diane Swanson, an assessor for Kandiyohi County. Replacing the old wood siding with new steel siding, however, will increase the value. Adding a deck or other new construction will also increase the value.

Falkum said it may not seem fair to be "penalized for taking care of your home," but he said the homeowner does benefit and the home will be worth more when it's sold.

Touring a home is "kind of an invasion," said Falkum, and he feels "kind of bad about that." But the process is required by law.

"Please don't treat the assessor as the enemy," he said.

Until Jesse Ventura became governor, Falkum said property owners had to allow an assessor onto the property, but now they have the right to deny access.

When that happens, the assessor views what they can see from the street or road and "makes their best guess" regarding the inside before establishing a value.

Falkum said it's better to let the assessor inside the home to see for himself rather than let him guess "because he's not going to assess low."

If an objection to the value is filed, the homeowner must allow the assessor access to the inside of the home before any change is considered to lower the value.

Falkum said two or three individuals refuse entry to assessors every year in the county.

In Kandiyohi County there are five assessors, including Falkum. The city of Willmar has their own team of assessors and eight townships in the county hire their own assessors.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750