Winona County Assessor's Office Frequently Asked Questions

What is Market Value?
A simple definition of market value is the most probable price a property would sell for in today's market. The sale must be an arms length transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller.

How Does the Assessor Determine Market Value?
Sales of real estate are the primary guide to the county's mass appraisal system. Winona County uses a computerized mass appraisal system that uses the sales and the property characteristics that are unique to each parcel to arrive at a market value. Major property characteristics used to determine value on homes include the square footage, number of bathrooms, number of bedrooms, age and condition, basement finish, garage size, the presence of a fireplace and the value of the land.

How Close to Actual Value Does the Assessor Need to Be?
State law requires assessors to value property at market value. Because it is statistically impossible to value at market value, state standards require assessors to value property between 90 and 105 per cent of market value. This measure is based on the total number of sales, not just on an individual sale.

How Come Values Go Up Each Year When No Improvements Are Made to the Property?
While improvements to property can cause the value to change considerably, economic influences probably affect value more. The assessor studies the real estate market very closely each year. When properties sell for more each year, the assessor is required to adjust the values accordingly. Estimated market values can also be decreased if the real estate market show sale prices are going down.

What Kinds of Improvements Add to Market Value?
Generally, improvements that increase the sale price of a property will also increase the assessor's market value. The following are typical improvements that will increase the assessor's value of property: 

Added rooms or garages
Basement/lower level finishing
Significant remodeling, especially in kitchens or bathrooms
Replacing old siding or windows with modern products
Adding central air conditioning or fireplaces

Will Making Repairs Increase the Estimated Market Value?
Good maintenance will help retain the market value of a property. Generally, estimated market value of a property will not be increased for minor repairs such as those that follow. However, a combination of these items could result in an increase of the market value of a home.

Replacing water heater
Repairing or shingling the roof
Repairing steps of porches
Repairing the original siding
Painting and decorating
Replacing plumbing or electrical fixtures

What Can I Do if the Estimated Market Value or Property Classification is Wrong?
The best method is to contact the county assessor's office.  A staff member will listen to your concerns and explain the way your property has been valued. The best time to do this is after you receive your Notice of Valuation, which is usually in late March. Often you may be asked to allow an inspection of the property. If you still disagree with the value after this meeting, there are formal appeal meetings held in April of each year.

What are the Requirements for Homestead?
There are two necessary elements needed to receive homestead treatment. The property must be owned and occupied as the principal place of residence by the owner or a qualifying relative of the owner. A person or married couple is allowed only one homestead except in very specific situations. The ownership and occupancy requirements must be met by December 1 of the year preceding when taxes are payable. All new homesteads must make application by December 15. Downloadable forms for regular or relative homestead are available on this web site.

Does an Increase in Estimated Market Value Always Mean an Increase in Property Tax?
Not necessarily. Many factors go into determining how much property taxes change from year to year. The items include spending habits of local governments, school bonds for either building or operating expenses, changes made by the legislature in the state property tax system, the amount of new construction within the county and a change in property value or classification. A change in any of these can result in tax increases.