Ron Stein did his homework but, to be honest, it was pretty easy. The Worthington resident argued that the recent reassessment of his property value was too high last week during one of several meetings the Franklin County auditor's office hosted. His proof? Stein bought the house last fall for $100,000 less than the auditor's office now says it's worth.

Ron Stein did his homework but, to be honest, it was pretty easy.

The Worthington resident argued that the recent reassessment of his property value was too high last week during one of several meetings the Franklin County auditor’s office hosted.

His proof? Stein bought the house last fall for $100,000 less than the auditor’s office now says it’s worth.

That’s one of the clearest examples of the information experts say property owners should bring when they challenge the new property values, which the auditor’s office began rolling out last month. Auditor Clarence Mingo’s office will host 14 more such events in the county this month.

“I’d love to be able to sell it for $485,000,” Stein said, adding that he paid $385,000 for his home in October. “But I didn’t buy it to sell it. It’s my retirement home.”

Ralph F. Berger, a Northwest Side real-estate appraiser, said a recent sale of your home is the best indication of its true value. You should definitely bring that information with you to argue for an adjustment if you believe the auditor’s valuation is too high.

For people who wonder how the auditor’s proposed value could be so much higher than a recent sale, Berger said it is important to remember that this year’s property revaluation is the three-year update between total, countywide reappraisals that happen every six years. The last was in 2011.

During the six-year reappraisal, the county sends appraisers out to assess every property in the county. The process takes more than two years to complete.

The three-year update looks at three years of sales in a given geographic region, one of the nearly 200 “neighborhoods” the county uses to classify property locations. A contractor then decides whether property values are going up or down in each area and applies a mathematical formula to the last known value for each property.

In Stein’s case, the appraisal firm hired to do the work would not have considered the recent sale of his home individually. Instead, it was lumped in with all the other homes sold in his part of Worthington to determine whether prices were on the rise.

That’s why it’s so important for homeowners to challenge such values when they think they’re wrong, Berger said.

He gave an example of a retired couple living in Upper Arlington, where property values are set to rise by about 10 percent this year. If they haven’t updated their home since the 1970s, while homes around them have been renovated, the rising values of their neighbors’ houses are going to cause their value — and their taxes — to rise even if their property isn’t worth that much.

“You don’t have the granite countertops, you don’t have the new windows — they don’t know that,” Berger said.

To make their case, property owners need to show “indisputable evidence” of a property’s true value, he said. Typically, such evidence comes in three forms: comparable sales, an up-to-date appraisal, or the recent sale price of the property in question.

Stein is lucky that he had his home sale to rely on, Berger said, because the other information he brought with him likely wasn’t going to cut it.

Stein also had gone on the auditor’s website and printed off a list of the other home values on his street. He said of 18 homes near his, none was listed as worth more than $400,000 and several were larger than his.

Berger said that type of information probably won’t get you anywhere with the appraisers at the informal review hearings because it could also be true that your value is right and your neighbors’ homes are undervalued.

Milt Lustnauer, president of the Columbus Realtors trade group, said this year’s revaluation has been fairly accurate. Among about 14 investment properties he owns in Columbus, he said, he’s considering challenging the new values of just two.

He said property owners who are thinking of selling might not challenge a value they think is high because they worry it could hurt their chances to land the price they want. He said that shouldn’t be a concern.

“Very rarely do people look at the auditor’s office value” when home-shopping, Lustnauer said.

He said real-estate agents use much better, up-to-date values based on the recent sale of similar properties to determine whether a property is worth its price. Property owners can use the same information to argue for adjusting their property value, he said.

Homeowners who have a relationship with a real-estate agent, perhaps the one who helped them buy their home, should ask the agent to provide them with a list of “comps,” or the recent sales of comparable properties.

He said getting an appraisal is another option, but property owners must balance the cost of an appraisal against the possible tax savings on a lower value.

Mingo said it’s a commonly held misconception that an increase in property values will result in a dramatic increase in property taxes.

He said even a $10,000 to $30,000 property-value increase typically results in a modest tax bump because of all the factors that go into determining tax rates. Tax rates won’t be set until after the November elections, to account for any property-tax levies on the ballot, he said.

“Ultimately, we want each value to be adjusted as accurately as possible. We want to make sure values are keeping up with market changes.”

Mingo said the informal reviews offer a chance for property owners to argue their case before the new values are finalized later this year. Generally, the auditor’s office follows the recommendations of the appraisers who interview residents at the informal meetings, but the office has the final say on a property’s value.

Property owners who don’t get the resolution they want can still file a formal complaint with the county’s Board of Revision. Complaints on the new values can be made starting in January and must be filed by March 31.

Veronica Boysel of Hilliard said the informal review process was fast and easy. She was at the Makoy Center in Hilliard last week to argue about the proposed value of a rental property she owns on the West Side.

In her case, not only did she recently buy the property for less than the new value, but she also had information the appraisers didn’t have, that the previous tenants damaged the property and it is currently uninhabitable.

Find more about the review hearings at