Field Visit Protocol
From time to time, an appraiser from the assessor's office may field visit your property. Colorado law, and the procedures and standards under which the assessor's office operates, require us to conduct field visits on property. In Lake County, our goal is to visit every property in Lake County at least every six years.
Under Colorado Statute, it is the duty of the County Assessor to "discover, list, classify and value all taxable real and personal property within the county". It is also the duty of the Assessor to distribute the tax burden fairly and equitably under the law. While it is not the duty of the Assessor to levy taxes, equitable valuation under the law is necessary to distribute the tax burden in a fair and equitable manner. An integral part of the appraisal process is assuring that the inventory and characteristics of each property in the county are reflected in the Assessor's records accurately. To do this requires an appraiser from our office to field visit properties in the county on a periodic basis.
Appraisers employed by the Lake County Assessor's Office are required by law to be licensed by the Colorado Board of Real Estate Appraisers within two years of employment. As such, they are required to abide by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), published by the National Appraisal Standards Board of the Appraisal Foundation. The Appraisal Foundation was authorized by the United States Congress to be the source for appraisal standards and qualifications. Standard 6 of the USPAP specifically speaks to the need for physical inspections of property to produce credible "mass" appraisals.
The Assessor's Reference Library, Volume 3 (published by the Colorado Division of Property Taxation) directs county assessment personnel to perform the following tasks when physically inspecting a property:
- Visually survey the property site.
- Make careful inspection of structures on the property, noting characteristics, condition, amenities, etc.
- Measure all structures and make a "sketch" of the "footprint" of each level of a building.
- Calculate the square footage of all structures.
- Photograph the major structures, along with anything else that may aid in the correct valuation of the property.
The Lake County Assessor's Office has the following guidelines/policy for field-visiting property within the county. These are designed to ensure that the appraisers perform their functions in the most expeditious, accurate, and efficient manner, while, at the same time, insure that they respect the citizen's right to privacy:
- When visiting a property, please attempt to contact the owner or occupant of the property, identify yourself to the owner or occupant as an employee of the assessor's office and show your official identification. Indicate your purpose for the visit, and secure permission to photograph, measure and document the characteristics of the property. If possible, the appraiser may attempt to schedule the visit in advance.
- If the owner/occupant objects to your presence on the property, it is the policy of this office that you should leave the property at once without objection. Contact should then be made by telephone or mail to secure permission to visit the property. Remain professional and do not argue with owner/occupant. We do not have the right to trespass when told to leave. If such permission is continually denied, refer the information to your supervisor.
- After introducing yourself and receiving permission, (or after placing your business card in the door if no one is home), gather all data as necessary and practical to value the property during the visit. Please do this in an efficient, courteous manner with a minimum of intrusion or inconvenience to the owner. Be efficient with your time and information to avoid having to make a return trip.
- While measuring and inspecting the property, please always avoid damaging, soiling, or defacing any property, both real and personal, and always respect the owner's privacy. Be aware of open curtains as you pass by windows or in taking pictures of the property. The assessor's information is public record - avoid having any individuals, license plates, pets or other circumstances in your pictures that may be harmful or embarrassing to the owner(s)/occupant(s).
- Appraisers should always attempt to accurately answer appraisal questions posed by the owner during or after an inspection. Follow through on any information you receive from the owner and, absolutely, return any phone call to answer a question in a prompt and efficient manner. Keep notes of your visits to refer to at a later date.
All taxpayers and landowners are entitled to equitable, fair, and respectful treatment. As an appraiser you are required under your licensure, as well as by our office policy, to execute your duties in an unbiased manner. Cooperation in this effort benefits everyone.