The Swartz Report: In Spite of the Highs and Lows, We’re Thankful!

Happy ThanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving everyone!

This 2020 year has been filled with highs and lows but one thing we can always count on – the 4th Thursday of November will be a time to be with family as we reflect on what we are thankful for and blessings from the past year.

Although this year will be virtual for many (I don’t remember the last time I have not been with my parents and my brother’s family) this will not keep us from enjoying our time together. I do know one thing that is certain… clean up will be a lot easier than in previous years. 😊

Zoom fatigue is real, but I’m confident we will be able to host a “meeting” with the extended family, with football in the background and multiple conversations occurring simultaneously. In many respects, it will be just like being together only we have the comfort of begin able to end each evening by sleeping on our own beds!

If you’re a frequent reader of my blogs, you know I spend a little time talking about my family.

Bull Creek Distillery LogoWell, our youngest turned 21 last month and it was nice to be able to celebrate with him. While I’m sure he would rather have been celebrating with friends a little closer to his age, we did manage to enjoy the day in fine fashion, sampling bourbon distilled in Springhill, KS.

This was quite a pleasant surprise and if you live in the area, I would suggest heading to Bull Creek Distillery to sample their spirits.

Thank you to all for continuing to support both Swartz + Associates and Indurante & Associates.

We are truly thankful for the opportunity to represent your interests. 2021 will represent my 35th year in the property tax industry and I believe we are well positioned to represent our clients for the next 35!

I am fortunate and thankful to be surrounded by family, friends, employees and clients who care about us and each other. I believe it’s the little things that make the difference, and I look forward to taking care of the little things for you as we move forward.

As always, I appreciate your feedback.

You may contact me via email,; or reply to this blog on my respective websites – or

The Swartz Report: Vegas, here we come!

Las VegasNext week, I will be taking my first business trip out of town since the beginning of the pandemic. While Zoom and Microsoft Meetings have been incredibly useful, and being able to see others is an effective alternative to the usual conference call, there are simply things not easily replicated when we meet face to face. So, next week, I will be traveling back to Las Vegas to meet with my employees of Indurante (as well as Swartz + Associates, Inc. since David Sukenik has been in the office just over a year).

Year End Planning

We are set to have our year end planning meeting and it is important I see everyone and really get an idea of how they are doing. While the work has been seamless and our touches with clients have earned positive responses, not being with them on a monthly basis has had an impact on me. I want to be with them to experience what is going on. Is the Las Vegas office handling the pandemic the same way we are handling things in Kansas City? I will soon find out and looking forward to sharing time with them in settings lasting more than one hour.

However, things will be different – rather than staying at my favorite hotel on the Strip, we will be meeting in a VRBO I have secured for our time there. The planning meeting will take place at the rental unit with breakfast, lunch and dinner mixed in at the location. Our planning meeting will take on a second role as a “team building” meeting which may also include table tennis (or for the casual player, ping pong 😊); pool and outdoor grilling. Honestly, I am very excited about this trip and look forward to the responses I receive from everyone.

Indurante Logo

The New Indurante Website is Live!

Speaking of Las Vegas, our initial website for Indurante is now up and running! While it will remain a work in process as we continue to add features, we are heading in the right direction and the website will tie nicely to our software programming and database development. Please visit our Indurante website – to learn more about our railcar expertise and our local employees.

Big things are on the horizon for Indurante and having our Swartz + Associates presence in Las Vegas will provide an avenue for those with locally assessed commercial/industrial properties to now have representation for property tax appeals. Taxpayers in Nevada, and particularly Clark County, will have options for our local office to review and analyze business personal property and real estate assessments. This is very rewarding for me and I believe we can have an immediate impact assisting owners of commercial/industrial properties.

Thank you for your continued interest in our companies – As always, please reach out to me with any questions or comments.    OR

The Swartz Report: Timing the Market, Market Conditions and What’s Next?

Last Friday, the employees of Swartz + Associates met to discuss the balance of the year and looking ahead to the 2021 property tax season. With articles being written about the future of commercial real estate; whether it relates to the hospitality industry, the retail sector, re-configuration of shopping centers or changing the use of office buildings, one thing is certain – change is coming!


TimingThe timing of the change is much harder to predict, but it is fair to assume the dynamics of commercial real estate over the next 3-5 years will be quite different than what we have traditionally experienced. The question is, how will the county jurisdictions react?

As I have stated in previous blogs and as you may already be aware, property taxes levied against a property primarily are used for local school district funding. Between 60%-75% of the total property tax liability is used for public, local schooling. With the changes due to the coronavirus and the increase in virtual learning, demands for newer technology and equipment are straining the current budgets. There will be significant pressure on the county assessor’s offices to maintain current values or risk a reduction in property tax dollars collected in 2021 and beyond. This represents a major challenge for everyone; taxpayers, county assessment officials, investors, school districts, community colleges, ambulatory services, libraries… you get the idea.

How will the respective assessor’s offices react?

Most states define “Market Value” as “Value in Exchange” rather than “Value in Use”. Current market conditions and sales are the driving factors in this determination rather than historical data, such as leases in place and/or sales dating back 2-3 years. Based upon the current environment, we are monitoring the marketplace to see if leases are being renegotiated, rents are being deferred and/or if concessions are being offered to reduce vacancies. All of these issues will affect the valuation of a property, particularly if a county is obligated to value a property as it sits on its valuation date (typically January 1st).

In the Midwest: Iowa, Colorado and Missouri are all subject to re-valuation for the 2021 tax year, while, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska are subject to an annual assessment review. Many other states have caps in place as to how much the value can increase in a given year until there is a change in ownership. As you can see, it can be quite confusing. During our planning meeting we discussed these situations and how to best represent our clients in the jurisdictions they have property.

Next Steps

What's Next?We will be working on expanding our presence in the Las Vegas market, as we believe changes in market value first appear in the Southwest (AZ, NV and CA) and the Southeast (FL and GA). With our Indurante office creating a presence in Las Vegas, this is a natural opportunity to grow the Swartz practice with existing clients and expanding our service to those with properties in Clark County.

The Indurante business will remain busy for 2021 as well. The pandemic has had an effect on many industries, and the railroads are certainly not immune. Railcars have had significant idle time and/or storage time due to decreased volume in the shipping of goods, products and materials. We have witnessed a steady decrease in rail activity throughout the year, but hopefully we will start to see an uptick. We are constantly reviewing the market to determine how these conditions are affecting the valuation of railcars and avenues we can review to insure “fair market value” is assessed to these assets.

As always, we appreciate the opportunity to represent your interests and thank you for thinking of us. If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me –

The Swartz Report: Indurante & Associates Update and the New Normal

Indurante & Associates Update and the New NormalIn preparing for this month’s update, I reviewed my August 2019 blog for a little inspiration. I found many of the things I presented following my accident to be true today in the midst of a pandemic. The focus being holding your employees accountable and having them taking on more responsibility.  This may be true even more so than a year ago.

Although our offices are open, employees have the option of working remotely and several are taking advantage of this opportunity. We’ve seen increased efficiency and fewer distractions, but this comes at the expense of lack of social interaction within the offices and reliance to be a self-starter. While some can handle working alone, many enjoy coming to the office, working in an office environment and may even appreciate a little nudging or prodding along the way. Additionally, having an extra set of eyes to review documents and appeals can be very helpful.

I am certainly enjoying the aspects of working remotely, but this could be a direct correlation to this coinciding with spring and summer. I wonder if my thoughts will change as the days get cooler and shorter? Will we be able to effectively implement marketing strategies and long-term goals in this type of environment or does the daily interaction help support the big picture? These are things that keep me awake at night and I would be interested if anyone would like to share their thoughts and what they are seeing in their respective workplaces.

Speaking of work…

In the next month or so, expect to see the Indurante website up and running. This is an important step for us as Indurante has previously had no web presence and it will be extremely beneficial for our clients to understand the relationship between Indurante & Associates and Swartz + Associates.

The breadth of our expertise in the property tax field will be on full display as we showcase our talents reviewing locally assessed properties as well as state assessed properties. We are uniquely positioned to assist various taxpayers, depending on their needs.

We now offer the following services for our clients:

  • Real property valuation analysis and consulting
  • Business personal property analysis and consulting
  • Business personal property annual compliance filings to the local jurisdictions
  • Business personal property annual compliance filings to the state level
  • Payment of annual property taxes through our dedicated property tax expense fund
  • Fee appraisal and valuation of machinery and equipment

As we head into the fall, please keep these services in mind. If we can be of assistance, I would welcome the opportunity to have a conversation. As always, you may contact me at

Stay healthy, stay safe and for everyone’s sake, please follow your city and state recommendations to reduce the risk of the Coronavirus!

The Swartz Report: Will property taxes be higher or lower in 2021?

By Donald Swartz, President and Principal of Swartz + Associates, Inc.

It was just over a year ago I wrote to everyone about an incident that changed my perspective about many things. As you may recall, on July 9th, while heading to my Las Vegas office on a bright Tuesday morning, an individual ran through a red light, hitting the Uber I was riding. Eight broken ribs, a separated shoulder, a broken clavicle and four fractured vertebrae later, I am feeling pretty good and amazed how much has changed these past 12 months.

Now it’s my turn to help be supportive and be the cheerleader, as so many were for me.

Being supportiveLast Tuesday, my father had quintuple bypass surgery. Yes, no typo, five bypasses! The surgery went as well as anyone could have expected for a man turning 89 in November. What to do, what to do… In this Coronavirus environment, all one can do is offer emotional support for the family. There is no visitation at the hospital. No hugs, no holding hands, no “just being there”. Only phone calls, Zoom setups during the week and words of encouragement. The true providers are the nursing staff, who serve both the medical needs of the patient and the emotional needs during this pandemic. Truly unbelievable.

And yet, my father remains optimistic that he will be heading home soon. And why not? He has always been optimistic and pragmatic about everything – family, friends, and his working professional career. Never, did he display negativity. While I try to emulate that in my life, it can be very challenging, especially in today’s world. Talk about role models, he’s top of the list.

Now on to the working front.

TaxesLast month, I mentioned one our employees, Mark Phillips, discovered an error by a state for the valuation of railcars. His uncovering generated millions of dollars of tax savings for all owners of railcars who had situs in that state. We submitted an article to our clients in the industry. Here is a link to that PDF. Please take a look if this is of interest.

Slowly but surely, our cases appealed in 2019 and earlier that have been delayed, postponed and/or pushed back are getting their “day in court”. The results have been very positive as various county assessor’s are working with us to resolve outstanding appeals from 2018 and 2019. This is a very good idea, as the system will again be backlogged due to the current appeals and the projection of 2021 appeals looming on the horizon.

There is no question in my mind, property tax valuations (both real and business personal property) are going to decrease in 2021 – the big question is whether the counties will recognize the downward swing caused by COVID-19.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please reach out to me directly –

Stay healthy, stay safe and for everyone’s sake, please wear a mask in public settings!

The Swartz Report: Celebrating our 6th Anniversary

Swartz + Associates 6th AnniversaryWe recently celebrated Father’s Day weekend and Juneteenth! I feel like Jimmy Kimmel and Steven Colbert as I write yet another blog from my home. The more things change, the more things remain the same……

Celebrating our 6th Anniversary

We celebrated the 6th anniversary of Swartz + Associates, Inc. on June 1st without much (in fact, without any) fanfare. Just another day of dealing with frustrating circumstances. Hearings held virtually or via telephone only; little interaction with respective appraisers’ offices; almost no interaction with county Boards and worrying about our clients and their abilities to remain upbeat and run functioning businesses.

There are some positive things occurring as well. In the past week, we have been working with Jackson County on our outstanding commercial real estate appeals. While we still have many properties to discuss, we were able to discuss and resolve 10 properties. At this rate, it will take quite a while to complete the 2019 hearings, but we know the county is working with us to resolve outstanding appeals and remain cautiously optimistic the number of cases to be reviewed by the county will only increase.

Another positive is the comfort level our staff has felt in working remotely. While the office is technically open, I have encouraged everyone to work in an environment that best suits their needs. If they want to come into the office, it is available to them (minus the break room).  This has worked out well as a few of us come in a few hours each week. This past Thursday, we had 4 in the office at the same time and it was nice to have some work oriented interactions.

Conversely, working remotely has not slowed us down at all and I believe has helped in our efficiency. As a group, we are meeting off site next week to discuss the past 3 months and making plans for the rest of the year. What will work look like? What is the importance of being in the office? Are we taking care of our clients? How will proper social distancing affect our abilities to have an “off site” half day meeting? These are issues l look forward to discussing with our group and receiving their input.

On the Las Vegas front, Indurante & Associates continues to charge along.

We recently completed the majority of 2020 property tax filings and now are reviewing assessment notices to ensure accuracy and correct methodology. We will be filing obsolescence appeals in those states which allow this argument and we recently discovered a calculation error by a State which assesses property tax on railcars. Alerting the State of this error caused the State to reissue assessment notices for all taxpayers (regardless of whether they were our clients), creating a combined tax savings of well over $500,000.

We did this at no extra charge to our clients, further cementing our reputation as the leading provider of railcar property tax services in the country. I will be talking more about this in a future post and announcement. I am very proud of our group, and would like to recognize Mark Phillips, senior analyst, for discovering the error and working with the state to make the corrections, ultimately benefiting all taxpayers.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please reach out to me directly –

The Swartz Report: What will the Real Estate market look like going forward?

“As slow as March went, April sure flew by!”

Time is flying byThis was a quote from a family member as we sat around the dinner table for the 50th consecutive day. That comment could not have held more truth. As we spent the last two weeks of March figuring out what in the world was going on and re-acclimated ourselves to a full household (this time full of consenting adults and not teenage children dealing with the pressures of adolescence, middle school and high school), April was filled with the “new routine”.  April found three of us working our jobs remotely and the 4th finishing up second semester of his sophomore year of college.

Phone calls, Zoom meetings, scheduled property tax appeal hearings (conducted via telephone, of course), class lectures and finals, staying out of each other’s way; the days rolled along and here we are – Mid May. More than sixty days of being together and the work continues to be completed. Touches with clients, valuation discussions, connecting with my accountants regarding the tax deadline extension and working with my bank to review the PPP application process/ funding and all the other regular joys of running a business! No wonder the days are moving so quickly.

With this activity, I am deeply aware of the effect the COVID-19 is having on many, if not all of my clients. Hoteliers, retailers, convenience store operators, owners of apartments and other commercial real estate properties – everyone has been touched negatively by this pandemic. These holdings will not just “bounce back” as quickly as things have fallen. I’ve listened to several economists representing most areas of the country and the market will return at a much slower pace. Some have projected a timeline of 3-4 years before GDP attains the percentage increase levels we were seeing at the start of 2020. While this may be one of the more conservative estimates, it certainly is a possibility the recovery period will take us well in 2021 and 2022.

The Real Estate Market

Swartz and Associates: Future of Real Estate?One question we don’t have an answer for at this point is what the real estate market will look like going forward. Will office space (and the need for office space) change in look, feel and desirability? Over recent years, we’ve seen the exponential increase in online sales as consumers order more goods from the Internet and have them delivered directly to their residence. With stay at home orders in place, more people have turned to this mode of shopping, not only out of convenience but necessity.

Have shopping habits shifted? Have work habits shifted? These are the areas we will be paying particular attention to and we will see if the real estate market reflects these changes over time. Construction of warehousing, cold storage and distribution centers will continue to increase, but how will the retail sector and office buildings adapt? More importantly, how will the counties recognize the changing landscape in the marketplace and what will their reaction be?

Big questions and no answers at this point…  but I promise you, it’s on our (and our client’s) radars.

States are showing signs of re-opening in various capacities and a general sense of anticipation is clearly in the air. I’m looking forward to dining out again and being with others. After all, in my almost 30 years of marriage, I’ve never had 60 consecutive dinners at home with my family. 😊 They are probably ready for a break from me!

Stay strong and stay healthy.

Zoom, Virtual Roundtables and the Human Condition

One month has passed since I last posted my blog. To say these last 31 days have been interesting, would not do justice to any sort of definition of “interesting”. Unique, unprecedented, unparalleled…. All terms researched that could easily take its place.

I know this has dominated the airwaves and it’s hard to focus on anything else. How does a company effectively continue to operate while living in a new world of social distancing? I believe we are all learning as we go; trial and error with a healthy dose of common sense as our guide.

Virtual Roundtable

Virtual RoundtableToday, I participated in virtual roundtable discussion sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.  This one hour conference via Zoom, consisted of 68 small business owners (or high level decision makers within their respective companies).

The concept was to share ideas and concerns with other businesses in the community having the similar issues; relief funding, PPP applications, working with your banker; employee morale and many others. The idea was to share challenges and what employers are doing to overcome them as well as offering successes and ways to encourage employees to get away from the “groundhog day” concept, which many are falling victim and can easily become a pattern to slip into day after day. Conversation was lively and the “chat room” was filled with questions and suggestions for us to implement.

Zoom is a fascinating tool I am using on a regular basis.

Zoom MeetingsWhile I had heard of this before the pandemic, it was something I would “look into” when I had the time to research. Well, things can change in an instant, and I am a believer now. The ability to see and communicate with each employee is much more powerful than a phone call.  Weekly meetings with the Kansas City office on Mondays and the Las Vegas office on Thursdays has provided much needed energy.

Additionally, it allows each of us to see the emotional aspect of working remotely, where a phone call may not.

I have been a user of Zoom for both business and social aspects and the results have been extremely positive for my personal well-being. Seeing your employees maintaining a positive outlook while working from their personal residences is a very powerful picture for an owner. Connecting with clients and friends for a virtual lunch, dinner or “happy hour” is equally important for my social well being and I plan to have several more in the upcoming weeks.

Many of our clients are hurting right now and these next several months will be very challenging for them. My goal is to stay connected not only on a professional level, but a personal level, if warranted. We should not feel we are simply property tax consultants but we are friends with, and in many cases, long histories of working together. We know each other’s stories and celebrate successes. I want my clients to know we are still there for them, looking out for their bests interests while remaining compassionate. This is where relationships are cemented and we plan to be here, assisting where and when possible.

Stay Strong and stay healthy.

The Swartz Report: Good News (EO) and Bad News (COVID-19)

Don Swartz

By Donald Swartz, President and Principal of Swartz + Associates, Inc.

Good News: Entrepreneurs’ Organization

I recently was accepted and joined the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Kansas City Chapter. This organization states, “as the world’s only peer-to-peer network exclusively for entrepreneurs, EO helps transform the lives of those who transform the world”. While my personal goal is not to help transform the world, per se, I was very much attracted to the idea of sharing ideas, stories, concerns and successes with a network of similarly minded business owners.

My group, or Forum, had our introductory training session and initial meeting last week. It was fascinating to be with a small group of business owners who tackle similar issues, both personal and business, in an open and non-judgmental environment. I am anticipating a close bond will quickly be formed as we meet on a monthly basis and truly get to know about each other’s lives.

EO currently has 196-chapter locations in 92 countries, with over 13,500 members. Many of my business contacts have familiarity (either as a member, former member or friends of a member) with EO and the initial comments have been overwhelmingly positive. I look forward to building this next step in my professional world and am excited about the opportunities EO will provide for my companies.

Bad News: Coronavirus

COVID-19Like most of us, I have been watching the sweeping changes occurring in our lives over the past 10 days. What started as a potential nuisance has developed into a complete crisis. Whether you believe we, as a nation, have over-reacted or have not yet done enough to do our part, this is a generational event which demands calm and patience. We must listen to, and adhere to our governmental officials, both at the local and national levels.

My family plans for spring break were not unique as we were headed to the 1st and 2nd rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament in St. Louis. How many thousands were planning the same trips in their respective regions of the country? How many of us with college age children now face the reality of having them home for an extended period of time (at least the balance of the semester) while we watch their college tuition savings be significantly reduced by a turbulent and unpredictable market? While painful for everyone, we must trust the process and understand these steps are necessary (in my opinion) to create an environment of a “greater good”.

COVID-19 has had an impact on the property tax world as well.

Locally, counties have eliminated the “in person” hearings if a taxpayer has disputed his/her valuation on their property. Hearings will now be conducted via telephone only, and realistically, I see this remaining in place for several months. It will be very interesting to see how these initial rounds of appeals are treated and what the next level of appeal (State Tax Commission, Board of Tax Appeals, District Court or other State assessment boards) will look like in terms of scheduled hearing dates and the anticipated backlog of appeals.

As always, we will try to keep you posted on the latest property tax events and would be pleased to serve your interests. Please stay calm and look out for one another!

The Swartz Report: Repurposing Retail Box Stores and Commercial Property Tax Values Issued in JoCo

Last week, there was an article I read (as well as several others) concerning the repurposing of empty retail box stores. In particular, the conversation turned to the aspect of shopping center owners such as Simon Properties, General Growth and Macerich acquiring some of these vacant stores. The reasoning behind these acquisitions is to create an alternative use in order to keep foot traffic at the mall, thereby supporting the other in-line retail stores. The repurposing of the stores is varied, but it appears the recent trend is to design shared office space.

Re-Purposing Big Box Retail

This article also mentions an estimated 200 million square feet of retail space that has closed or anticipates closing since the beginning of 2017. Some of these retail stores have been closed for up to 4 years. It will be extremely interesting to see what happens to the 150+ planned Macy’s store closings based on last week’s announcements.

Potential Impact

This may have a significant impact in the property tax world as assessors and appraisers struggle to determine the fair market value of these types of properties.

Do appraisers look at the sales of vacant retail properties to determine the value? Or should they look at the current use of the property? This argument has been building in several states over the past few years. In Kansas, it is likely this argument will be decided by the Kansas Supreme Court, possibly in the 2020 calendar year.

Mall owners are finding they must continue to come up with ways to support their malls as they cannot afford to have anchor tenants sitting vacant. It’s worth the potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in improvements and reconfigurations in order to maintain mall traffic.

How does this affect the value of a property?  That’s the $64,000 question (or more likely the $300,000 question!)

Johnson County Commercial Values Issued

Speaking of Kansas, Johnson County issued their commercial values to taxpayers last week with an appeal deadline of March 11th. Residential notices will be issued before March 1st and taxpayers will have until the end of March to file appeals if they are unhappy with the valuation placed upon their residence.

As I’ve included in previous years, the deadlines in the surrounding states which occur in the upcoming months are listed below:

Kansas – Personal Property: March 15 | Real Estate: March 11 – (commercial) Johnson County
March 31 – remaining KS Counties

Missouri – Personal Property: March 1 | Real Estate: 3rd Monday in June

Oklahoma – Personal Property: March 15 | Real Estate: Generally in June

Iowa – Personal Property: Not applicable – Exempt | Real Estate: April 30

Colorado – Personal Property: April 15 – Real Estate: May 31

Nebraska – Personal Property: May 1 | Real Estate: June 30

Arkansas – Personal Property: May 1 | Real Estate: Varies

Even though this is an “off year” in Missouri, Colorado and Iowa, appeals can still be filed based upon a valuation date of January 1, 2019. For those taxpayers in Jackson County who did not file appeals on the property, but were hit with the significant valuation increases, the opportunity exists to attempt relief for the 2020 tax year. (I will discuss Jackson County more in the April and May blogs.)

As always, if you have any questions surrounding your property valuations, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any of the staff at Swartz + Associates. Now entering our 34th year in property tax valuation reviews (personal property, residential and commercial), we have the knowledge and relationships to professionally handle your needs anywhere in the country.

Please visit our website to learn more about our experience and results.