What's in store for Chicago? Triennial Reassessment 2024

What's in store for Chicago? Triennial Reassessment 2024

February 21, 2024 10

Chicago property owners take heed: 2024 is a reassessment year.

What can you expect? The best predictor of future government policy is the recent past. The 2023 reassessment of the city’s South and Western suburbs increased assessments of residential class 2 property by an average of 39.17%.

One year earlier, the 2022 reassessment saw tax-values jump by a similar percentage in the Northern suburbs. Consequently, homeowners in the North and Northwest suburbs saw their 2022 tax bills jump by an average of 15.7% with a median bill totaling $7,008, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

Because homeowners won’t receive the 2023 second installments until later in 2024, we cannot yet provide a property tax percentage increase for South and Western suburb homeowners. But it’s safe to say a 39.17% assessment hike will translate to at least 15% higher bills, if not more.

It's also safe to say these data show property tax bills growing by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, we can also say this will continue, because it’s not only assessments increasing but also government spending, which is what turns these assessments into high bills. The Cook County FY 2024 budget topped $9.14 billion, 4.1% higher than FY 2023. With no moderation in spending and no changes to the County pension scheme which now devours almost half of Chicago’s budget, there is no place to go but up.

Want to know what your assessment will be? Look at the housing market

The best way to ascertain what your home’s new assessment will likely be is to observe the housing market.

According to Crain’s, the Chicago area housing market slowed by more than 20% in 2023, with a total of 22,400 sales—fewer than any year since 2011. But interestingly, neither this slowdown nor the higher interest rates seen since 2022 (an effort to combat inflation) have yet translated to lower prices. According to Realtor.com, the median listing price for Chicago homes totaled $344,900, up 8.1% year-over-year, with an average sold price of $310,000.

This can in part be attributed to tightening inventor. Norada Real Estate, who still classifies the current Chicago area housing market as a seller’s market, marked a year-over-year decrease in homes for sale of 27.3% in December 2023.

It bears mentioning, too, that, because the Triennial Reassessment accounts for the prior three years of home sales, the Assessor’s new work in Chicago will take into account the incredibly hot market seen throughout 2021, when—in part due to low interest rates and a glut of pandemic buyers—Chicago home sales peaked at 33,246 and prices jumped by leaps and bounds.

Pritzger toilet caper; Chicago Bears roar at property tax

No less than our own governor sought to escape the sting of Cook County’s high property taxes.

In 2018, the Pritzker’s enacted what Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard later called “a scheme to defraud" taxpayers in removing five toilets from the family's second Gold Coast mansion to render it "uninhabitable" for tax purposes.

The couple provided false affidavits attesting to the condition and saved a cool $300,000 in property taxes. 

Then there is the saga of the Chicago Bears.

In their intended ongoing move from Soldier Field to Arlington Heights, property taxes have been not only a sticking point but the main threat to the plans.

The Arlington Heights property intended to become the new Soldier Field already generates an estimated annual tax bill of $7.8 million with its current $95 million assessment. After they build at $2.5 billion stadium there, though? The annual tax bill would top $200 million.

Presently, the Bears and the local school districts are battling it out on what will ultimately become of the project. “We don’t have a deal yet,” said Scott Metcalf, an attorney representing the school districts.

These stories appeared as flashes in the pan, sometimes treated humorously, but really deserve deeper thought. 

What does it say when the property taxes reach such heights that your billionaire governor and a multi-billion-dollar sports franchise of international fame can’t seem to tolerate the burden?