Column | New software saves time, money
Hopefully you are staying cool this summer. This month I have some exciting news about a new software program we are finally implementing in the Mohave County Assessor’s Office. The Assessor’s Office is responsible to list the values of all properties in the county that are taxed. This is done by the use of a database which contains information about each parcel including the owner(s) of record. Since property tax bills are issued based on this information, it is critical that the database be updated for changes in ownership in a timely and accurate manner.
Real property ownership changes must be done by means of conveyance documents that are recorded with the county recorder. These are typically in the form of deeds. Digital images of all recorded conveyance documents are provided by the Recorder’s Office to the Assessor’s Office.
Historically, this process was achieved by several staff members, who would print the documents, determine the parcel(s) that the conveyances applied to, and manually enter changes of ownership and the sales information into the assessor’s database. Typically, staff could keep up with ownership changes on a daily basis. Periods where the database was “locked” during the year (in order to process notices of value or the annual tax roll) would create backlogs of ownership changes, but these would generally be caught up by utilizing additional personnel once the lockout period ended.
In the past few years, due to the strong market, there has been an increase in the number of conveyance documents recorded. As a result, it became more difficult to maintain a current status of ownership in the database. Our office found a solution to its backlog of recorded documents in “Just Appraised” software. The Just Appraised innovative software product specializes in streamlining tax assessors’ workflows using artificial intelligence. After evaluation of the product and analysis of the cost-benefit factors, we determined that it would be advantageous on many levels to purchase and implement this software program.
Just Appraised software simplifies the change of ownership process for real property by automating the review, research and entry processes which had formerly been entirely manual. The software scans the digital image of a deed, assigns the proper parcel number by comparing the legal description to our existing parcel database, verifies the seller and creates a data abstract listing from all of the pertinent sale information. The Assessor’s Office deed technician is able to see on a single screen a side-by-side view of both the digital document and a data abstract of the sale transaction produced by the Just Appraised program. After a visual review for validity of the deed and data accuracy, the technician triggers Just Appraised to process the data, then it updates the real property database by changing the listed owner of record and their mailing address, creating a sale record within the database. All this is done in a fraction of the time it formerly took when the entire process was done manually. Not only does this make more efficient use of staff time, but it reduces potential for error in the data entry process, not to mention the environmental and cost benefits in the reduction of the use of paper, ink and electricity.
After several months of testing, we went “live” with the bulk of Just Appraised functions in early May. The improvements in output thus far have been fantastic. As an example, a single deed with dozens of associated parcels which would formerly have taken a significant amount of time to research and input into our system can now be verified and processed in just a few minutes. Our rollout of Just Appraised is still ongoing, but the benefits to our office and the county’s taxpayers are clear and very encouraging. While Just Appraised is being utilized by other assessing agencies across the country, we are proud that we are the first county in Arizona to deploy Just Appraised software. This is just another example of how the Mohave County Assessor’s Office is staying ahead of new opportunities to save money, time and your tax dollars.