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The Myth About Qualifying for Mortgage Refinancing

Refinance Your Mortgage Without Closing Costs UpfrontIt’s a common misconception that homeowners must have exemplary credit scores to qualify for a new loan or to refinance an existing mortgage, but this is far from the truth. Homeowners who hold an existing mortgage are – in most cases – eligible to refinance their current loan.

Unless you have experienced a significant decrease in your credit score, are recently unemployed, or have had another major life change, you should easily qualify for mortgage refinancing. For homeowners with extenuating circumstances, there are still options available for decreasing or temporarily pausing your mortgage payments.
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No “Silver Bullet” for Property Tax Relief in Illinois

Created by the General Assembly in the summer of 2019 to address an “opaque” and unpopular system that has left Illinois with the second highest tax rate in the country, a property tax relief task force recommended a four-part, decade-long attack.

The group’s recommendations – summarized in a draft report included as part of a study Treasurer Maria Pappas released documenting the 20-year climb of Cook County property taxes – illustrate the difficulty of revamping a tax system built around the funding needs of 6,968 separate taxing districts. That’s more than any other state in the country by a margin of 2,000, according to U.S. Census Bureau data cited in the report. Second-place Pennsylvania has nearly 5,000.

Consolidating such government units is at the heart of the recommendations made by the 88-member legislative task force, which held dozens of hearings around the state over a five-month period in 2019.
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Error Leaves Some Thornton, Proviso Homeowners Waiting for COVID Adjustments

Error Leaves Some Thornton, Proviso Homeowners Waiting for COVID AdjustmentsSome homeowners in Thornton and Proviso Townships will have to wait a little longer to learn how next year’s property tax bill will be impacted by the Cook County Assessor’s adjustment for COVID-19 hardships.

That’s because a processing error left some properties out when the office was applying COVID adjustments to the property tax assessment in those townships, according to a press release. The error does not affect this year’s tax bill because the adjustments will be factored in assessed values used to calculate next year’s property tax bills.
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Do Your Own Cook County Property Tax Appeals in 6 Steps

Cook County Property Tax Appeal DIYWhen payments of your Cook County property are due, there’s nothing you can do to lower them. However, there is a way to lower them next year by hundreds or even thousands of dollars for next year’s payments: appealing this year.

We recommend appealing your assessment every year to be sure that you are not paying more than your fair share of property taxes, but do you hire an expert or do it yourself?

Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of hiring an expert vs. DIY, and tips for doing it right if you do it yourself.
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Understanding the Factors That Determine the Size of Your Property Tax Bill

Factors that Influence Your Property Tax BillWhen you open your property tax bill, it’s easy to see if you’re going to be paying more, but the reasons why can be harder to understand.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough offers a brief explanation in a recent release accompanying the 2019 tax rates. The release includes the “four most impactful factors” that determine whether an individual property tax bill goes up or down. The bad news is, they’re going up in a lot of cases. But every tax bill is a collection of individual components.

Here are the four factors that determine the size of your tax bill, followed by some explanation around what you can (and can’t) do about them:
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What Is Equalized Assessed Value (EAV)?

What Is Equalized Assessed Value (EAV)?The Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) of your property is the product of the assessed value of your property (both land and improvements) and the State Equalization Factor, which is set by the Illinois Department of Revenue.

How Is EAV Calculated?

In Illinois, counties are required to “equalize” property tax assessments so that the median level of assessment is at 33% of fair market value. If the average sales price in the overall market is either higher or lower than 33% of assessed values, the prior assessed values will be increased or decreased by a factor that corrects this. Because Cook County assesses residential property at 10% of fair market value, rather than the 33% required by state law, Cook County’s equalization factor can approach 3 while that of other counties are typically closer to 1.0. The equalization factor is then multiplied by your property’s assessed value to determine its EAV.

Cook County EAV Example

The Cook County Assessor’s Office calculates the EAV of your property by taking the market value of your home, multiplying it against the County’s property tax assessment ratio (10%) and then multiplying that against the equalization factor (2.9706 in 2011 for example). The resulting EAV is the taxable value of your property, minus exemptions.

For example, if the market value of your home is $250,000, you multiply that by 10% for an assessed value of 25,000 and then by 2.9706 to get an EAV of $74,265.

Why Is EAV Needed?

EAV is part of an approach to taxation and property assessment which is supposed to ensure fairness to the taxpayers throughout the state of Illinois. EAV is also used in attempting to equitably set and distribute state grants-in-aid and applying tax rate and bonded indebtedness restrictions fairly.

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How to Determine Your Cook County Township

Cook County Property Tax AppealWhen appealing your property taxes, you first need to identify in what township you live.

This may be straightforward if you live in Evanston or Oak Park, but where is Bloom, Bremen, Lake, and South Chicago? These latter examples do not relate to a particular suburb or Chicago neighborhood.

4 Methods

There are four ways to determine in what Cook County township you live:

  1. Check your property tax bill (top right) – get a copy mailed to you here
  2. Call the Cook County Assessor’s Office at (312) 443-7550
  3. Visit the Cook County Assessor’s Office website and enter your PIN or address
  4. View the township table below

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Below is a Cook County township map, followed by boundaries for each township.

Cook County Township Map

Cook County Townships & Boundaries

Cook County Townships North
Cities, Towns & Villages
Barrington McHenry/Lake
County Line
Central Kane
County Line
  • Barrington
  • Barrington Hills (south 3/4)
  • East Dundee
  • Hoffman Estates
  • Inverness (west 1/4)
  • South Barrington
Berwyn n/a (township borders match those of the suburb)
Bloom 183rd 231st Western Ave. Indiana
State Line
  • Chicago Heights
  • Flossmoor
  • Ford Heights
  • Glenwood (almost all)
  • Homewood (portion)
  • Lansing
  • Lynwood
  • Olympia Fields
  • Park Forest
  • Sauk Village (almost all)
  • South Chicago Heights
  • Steger
Bremen 135th 183rd Harlem Ave. Western Ave.
  • Oak Forest
  • Midlothian
  • Posen
  • Robbins
  • Blue Island (portion)
  • Homewood (portion)
  • Orland Park (portion)
  • Tinley Park (portion)
  • Crestwood (portion)
  • Hazel Crest (portion)
  • Markham (portion)
  • Country Club Hills (portion)
  • Harvey (the very Western edge)
Calumet 119th 138th Western Ave. See Map
  • Blue Island (east half)
  • Calumet Park
  • Riverdale
Cicero n/a (township borders match those of the suburb)
Elk Grove Central Devon Ave. Rohlwing/I290 Mount Prospect
  • Arlington Heights
  • Elk Grove Village
  • Mount Prospect
  • Rolling Meadows
  • Des Plaines
Evanston n/a (township borders match those of the suburb)
Hanover Central Devon Ave. Kane County
Barrington Rd.
  • Bartlett
  • Elgin
  • Hanover Park
  • Hoffman Estates
  • Schaumburg (west edge)
  • South Barrington (south edge)
  • Streamwood
Hyde Park Pershing (39th) 138th State St. Lake Michigan
State Line
  • Avalon Park
  • Burnside
  • Calumet Heights
  • Chatham (portion)
  • East Side
  • Grand Boulevard (portion)
  • Greater Grand Crossing (portion)
  • Hegewisch
  • Hyde Park
  • Kenwood
  • Oakland (portion)
  • Pullman
  • Riverdale
  • Roseland (portion)
  • South Chicago
  • South Deering
  • South Shore
  • Washington Park (portion)
  • West Pullman (portion)
  • Woodlawn
Jefferson Devon Ave. North Ave. Harlem Ave. Western Ave.
  • Albany Park
  • Avondale
  • Belmont-Cragin
  • Dunning
  • Forest Glen
  • Hermosa
  • Irving Park
  • Jefferson Park
  • Logan Square
  • Montclare
  • Portage Park
Lake Pershing (39th) City of Chicago
City of Chicago
State St.
  • Back of the Yards
  • Englewood
Lake View Devon Ave. Fullerton Ave. Western Ave. Lake Michigan
  • Bucktown
  • Edgewater
  • Lakeview
  • Lincoln Park
  • Lincoln Square
  • North Center
  • Old Town Triangle
  • Ravenswood
  • Roscoe Village
  • Uptown
  • Wrigleyville
Lemont Bluff/DuPage County Border 135th Smith Rd. County Line Rd.
  • Lemont
  • Palos Park (west edge)
  • Willow Springs
  • Woodridge
Leyden Devon Ave. North Ave. Harlem Ave. Western Ave.
  • Bensenville (east portion)
  • Elmwood Park
  • Franklin Park
  • Melrose Park (north portion)
  • Norridge (west edge)
  • Northlake (north portion)
  • Park Ridge (south edge)
  • River Grove
  • Rosemont (southeast 3/4)
  • Schiller Park
Lyons 39th 87th County Line Rd. Harlem Ave.
  • Bedford Park
  • Bridgeview
  • Brookfield
  • Burr Ridge
  • Countryside
  • Hickory Hills
  • Hinsdale
  • Hodgkins
  • Indian Head Park
  • Justice
  • La Grange
  • La Grange Highlands
  • Lyons
  • McCook
  • Pleasantdale
  • Ridgewood
  • Riverside
  • Summit
  • Western Springs
  • Willow Springs
Maine Central Devon Ave. Mt. Prospect Rd. Harlem Ave.
  • Des Plaines
  • Glenview
  • Morton Grove
  • Niles
  • Park Ridge
  • Rosemont
New Trier Lake County Line Central/Evanston Border See Map Lake Michigan
  • Glencoe
  • Glenview (portion)
  • Kenilworth
  • Northfield (portion)
  • Wilmette
  • Winnetka
Niles Central Devon Ave. Harlem Ave. Just East of McCormick Rd.
  • Glenview
  • Golf
  • Lincolnwood
  • Morton Grove (east 3/4)
  • Niles (southeast half)
  • Skokie
North Chicago Fullerton Ave. Chicago River
(main stem)
Chicago River
(north branch)
Lake Michigan
  • Gold Coast
  • Loop
  • Old Town
  • River North
  • Streeterville
Northfield Lake County
Central Des Plaines River
I-294 (approx.)
Harms Rd.
Prairie St.
  • Glencoe
  • Glenview
  • Northbrook (majority)
  • Northfield (west 3/4)
  • Prospect Heights (east edge)
  • Wilmette (west edge)
  • Des Plaines (north edge)
Norwood Park n/a (township borders match those of the suburb)
Oak Park n/a (township borders match those of the suburb)
Orland 135th 183rd Will County Rd.
(County Line)
Harlem Ave.
  • Orland Hills
  • Orland Park
  • Tinley Park
Palatine Lake County
Central Huntington Rd.
Eastern Ave.
Wilke Rd.
  • Arlington Heights (west of Wilke Rd.)
  • Barrington
  • Deer Park
  • Hoffman Estates (northeast)
  • Inverness
  • Palatine
  • Rolling Meadows (north of Central Road
  • Schaumburg
  • South Barrington
Palos 87th 135th Will Cook Rd.
(Will County Line)
Harlem Ave.
  • Bridgeview (south 1/4)
  • Hickory Hills (south 3/4)
  • Orland Park (small northern part)
  • Palos Heights (west 1/2)
  • Palos Hills
  • Palos Park
  • Willow Springs (south portion)
  • Worth (west 1/4)
Proviso North Ave. 39th I-294 Harlem Ave.
  • Bellwood
  • Berkeley
  • Broadview
  • Brookfield (northwest 1/2)
  • Elmhurst (portion)
  • Forest Park
  • Hillside
  • La Grange Park (majority)
  • Maywood
  • Melrose Park
  • North Riverside
  • Northlake (south 1/4)
  • Oak Brook (parts)
  • Stone Park
  • Westchester
  • Western Springs (north portion)
Rich 183rd. 231st/Steger Harlem Ave. Western Ave.
  • Country Club Hills
  • Flossmoor (west 3/4)
  • Frankfort
  • Hazel Crest
  • Homewood
  • Matteson (majority)
  • Olympia Fields (vast majority)
  • Park Forest (north 3/4)
  • Richton Park
  • Tinley Park (portion)
  • University Park (portion)
River Forest n/a (township borders match those of the suburb)
Riverside Cermak Rd 39th St 9th Avenue Harlem Ave
Rogers Park Evanston Border Devon Ave. Kedzie Ave. Lake Michigan
  • East Rogers Park
  • West Rogers Park
Schaumburg Central Devon Ave. Barrington Rd. Route 53
  • Elk Grove Village
  • Hanover Park
  • Hoffman Estates
  • Roselle
  • Schaumburg
  • Streamwood
South Chicago Chicago River
(main stem)
Pershing (39th) Chicago River
(south branch)
Chicago Sanitary &
Ship Canal
Lake Michigan
  • Bridgeport
  • Brighton Park
  • Bronzeville
  • Lake Meadows
  • Loop
  • McKinley Park
  • Prairie Shores
  • South Loop
Stickney 65th 87th Harlem Ave. Cicero Ave.
  • Bedford Park (east 3/4)
  • Bridgeview
  • Burbank
  • Forest View (majority)
  • Stickney
Thornton 138th 183rd Western Ave. Indiana State
  • Blue Island (southern edge)
  • Burnham
  • Calumet City
  • Dixmoor
  • Dolton
  • East Hazel Crest
  • Glenwood (northern 1/4)
  • Harvey
  • Hazel Crest
  • Homewood (northeast half)
  • Lansing (northern half)
  • Markham (eastern 1/4)
  • Phoenix
  • Posen
  • Riverdale
  • South Holland
  • Thornton
West Chicago North Ave. Pershing (39th) Harlem Ave. Chicago River
Chicago Sanitary &
Ship Canal
  • Austin
  • Belmont Central
  • Belmont Heights
  • Belmont Terrace
  • Big Oaks
  • Bucktown
  • Craigin
  • Dunning
  • Edison Park
  • Galewood
  • Garfield Park
  • Hanson Park
  • Heart of Chicago
  • Hermosa
  • Humboldt Park
  • Irving Park
  • Irving Woods
  • Jefferson Park
  • Kelvyn Park
  • Kilbourn Park
  • Lawndale
  • Little Village
  • Logan Square
  • Monteclare
  • O’Hare
  • Old Norwood
  • Oriole Park
  • Noble Square
  • Norwood Park
  • Pilsen
  • Portage Park
  • Schorsh Village
  • Tri-Taylor
  • UIC
  • Ukrainian Village
  • Union Ridge
  • West Loop
  • West Town
  • Wicker Park
Wheeling Lake County
Central Wilke Rd. Des Plaines
I-294 (approx.)
  • Arlington Heights
  • Buffalo Grove
  • Des Plaines
  • Mount Prospect
  • Northbrook
  • Prospect Heights (majority)
  • Wheeling (majority)
Worth 87th 135th Harlem Ave. Western Ave.
  • Alsip
  • Blue Island
  • Bridgeview
  • Chicago Ridge
  • Crestwood
  • Evergreen Park
  • Hometown
  • Merrionette Park
  • Oak Lawn
  • Palos Heights (east half)
  • Robbins (north 1/4)
  • Worth (east 3/4)

How to Appeal Your Property Taxes: 3 Approaches

 How to Appeal Your Cook County Property TaxesIf you feel like you’re paying too much in property taxes – and who doesn’t – you can submit a property tax appeal to the assessor’s office and, in the case of Cook County, also to the Board of Review.

If you have the time and are effective, you may get a reduction to your assessed value which will reduce your property’s future property tax bills. To do so, you need to prove that your property is worth less than the value set by the assessor. The following are three approaches to proving a case in Cook County.
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What Happens If You Don’t Pay Your Property Taxes?

Paying Cook County Property TaxesIn Chicago and throughout Cook County, many homeowners are struggling to pay their ever increasing property taxes, especially those seniors on fixed incomes and disabled individuals, as well as longtime residents of neighborhoods undergoing gentrification. More affluent homeowners may also despair of paying property tax bills that can approach six figures on high-end properties in exclusive communities.
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