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Cook County property values may be down four years in a row

Wednesday, August 04, 2010
Crain's Chicago Business
by Greg Hinz

Property values in Cook County started dropping well before the current the 2008-09 recession and could be off four years in a row unless a turnaround kicks in this year.

   That's the bottom line of
a new report from the Civic Federation, a tax watchdog group, on what's happened to the estimated total value of all real estate in the state's largest county.

   The study finds that in 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, the value of property in the county dropped 5.9%, or $38.8 billion, from 2007. Total value in 2007, in turn, was off $9.7 billion from 2006.

  With the real estate market in near-collapse in 2009 — and still moribund this year — the total could be off four years in a row. Such a continuous decline may be unprecedented, and certainly has not occurred since detailed data first became available in the early 1990s, said Lise Valentine, the federation's research director.

   The decline seems to be most extensive in suburban areas, not the city of Chicago, according to the report. But that's based only on 2007 and 2008 figures.

   The data clearly suggest that the Chicago-area economy is having difficulty, and has been for quite some time. It also underlines the task facing local governments because, merely to keep their property tax income constant, they'll have to raise property tax rates to make up for the declining tax base.

   The Civic Federation based its study on figures provided by the Cook County Assessor's Office and the Illinois Department of Revenue.

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