wtf? Hamilton County Auditor: 16 Elmhurst Place (River High)

I swear, I do not look for these examples.  Not from day one did I set out to challenge Dusty Rhodes or find fault with the way he does his job.  I just started to notice things.  And then other people did too – and they started to send me tips.

Bow Tweh’s recent coverage in the Cincinnati Enquirer of the Everything But the House sale on Melody Sawyer Richardson’s possessions from her former home was the most recent catalyst.  Like any good nosey-butt-in-ski, first I stopped by the online auction site to check-out the bargains.  But these days when I see a sale price on an expensive home, I immediately go tothe Hamilton County Auditor’s website to check out the valuation. image

16 Elmhurst Place is a beautiful home. 21 rooms. 6 bedrooms. 10,167 square feet of finished space with 9 fireplaces, 3 1/2 baths (new owner will be adding to these, I bet) and a 3 car garage on 1.278 acres with a river view. It sold to an undisclosed owner represented by trustee Peter E. Koenig at the end of last year for $3,235,000.


And the Auditor’s opinion on this property as recently as this fall’s triennial update? $2,050,420.

Dusty was only off by a little over 57%!

Fifty-seven percent. Not 10%. Not 20%. A 57% difference between the actual market value in an arm’s length transaction and the value assigned by the appraisers Dusty has hired over the years.

The Hamilton County Auditor says I am “the little boy who cried wolf”? I don’t think so, Dusty – and the most troubling aspect of this situation is that the elected official with the fiduciary responsibility to ensure a fair application of existing law has never once asked what concerns me about his valuations though I have tried to start the conversation many times. The only thing he seems to care about is discrediting my qualification to question his numbers.

I’ve been stumbling across these valuation issues for the last few months, not all that long, and I certainly haven’t been analyzing the situation on any kind of scientific basis, but here are the patterns of under-valuation I’ve noticed to date:

1. Any commercial property owned by Western & Southern and the LLCs they control. 2. Residential properties over a million dollars in value. 3. Any property owned by the Lindner families or the Barrett family and their close associates. 4. All commercial property in the Central Business District, values of which have been dropping precipitously – particularly since the opening of Queen City Square.

This is far from a complete list – but it is enough to keep me going, determined that the current situation is corrected and property tax laws applied on a fair and equal basis.

5 thoughts on “wtf? Hamilton County Auditor: 16 Elmhurst Place (River High)

  1. tim golliher

    These valuations do not seem to be anywhere near accurate. Dusty likes to value things lower for tax purposes for pretty much everyone, and that’s nice, but the numbers are WAY off on these fancy piles o’ brick. But then again, Northside can’t get streets paved, curbs rebuilt, etc, and Hyde Park and Mt. Lookout and Oakley are on their 4th re-paving of most streets in the last 30 years! All things being equal?

  2. Mike Vanguard

    I wouldn’t say there is any conspiracy from looking at this one example you provided. The issue with this property is few comparison property sales and the fact this property has not sold in recent years. This is a very common scenario with homes in ALL price ranges. Go ahead, check out the data from the auditor site and you will find many homes in the sub $200k range that sold for 50% more than their valuation. How exactly would you determine the value of this home should be over $3M? The fact that is has now sold for this price means the property valuation will catch up to the new market value. Again, this is such a common scenario in all counties for homes of all price ranges.

    1. executivedreamer Post author

      There’s a group of people who love to use the word “conspiracy.” I’m not one of them.

      What I don’t understand is why we accept such shoddy standards for our valuations. IF we have a system based on appriased market values and everybody seems to admit that the system is full of inaccurate appraisals – why don’t you think we should fix the broken system? Instead, you just say, “That’s the way it is.” None of the professionals like Zillow – and yet in this case a crappy computer algorhythm did way better than the professional appraisers we pay as a community. Come on, Mike. Don’t rationalize inadequate workmanship because it is rampant. Demand better. This city deserves it.

  3. Mike Vanguard

    I certainly understand your point, but let’s look at them a little closer.
    1. To get an accurate appraisal would require a substantial increase in time and cost from the auditor’s office. Who’s going to pay for detailed appraisals on every property in the county? Do you want your tax bill to increase by $300/yr to cover this. Do you want to take time off work to meet an appraiser and let him in your home?
    2. Zillow. Zillow actually had this home valued right at $2M through the 2012 property tax year. Guess what Zillow’s largest factor is on determining their valuation? Yep, it’s the country tax valuation record. Next is previous sales, then comparable sales.


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