How to Appeal Assessed Property Value

Tax Professionals' Resource
April 16, 2013 — 1,410 views  
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Property tax can be daunting for homeowners and confusing too. The current property tax trend is rather disturbing. While on one hand home prices are seen tumbling south, the property tax is shooting up north. According to sources, between 2005 and 2009, property tax increased by 20 percent but home prices decreased by over 30 percent in major urban markets. This can be confusing and disturbing to homeowners. The government doesn’t assess home values year to year. So, your property tax could represent the home value when the market was healthier.

Checking the Assessment

You have the option to appeal property tax assessment if you are not satisfied with your assessment. You have between 10 to 30 days to appeal against the notification in most states. You may want to see if the assessor has accurately described your property. To do this, you may want to examine your property record at the assessor’s website or their office. It summarizes the characteristics of your property. See if you are exceeding the number of bedrooms or bathrooms. Extra rooms can drive up the tax. Before you make an actual appeal you need to ensure that you have not made substantial changes to your house, otherwise your appeal might result in further raise in your tax. In any case, if the tax is substantially higher, say by several thousand dollars, your effort will yield beneficial results. Additionally, see if the assessor hasn’t missed something that might lower your tax such as damp backyard or leaky roof expensive to repair.   

Filing an Appeal

In order to make your appeal property tax assessment successful you need to figure out comparable sales. You need to offer evidence to the official showing that your property has been wrongly valued. Tell them that a house similar to yours in terms of area, neighborhood, and amenities costs less. Show them the sale documents and photographs of your property as well.

Data on sales price can be accessed from the website of the assessor that lists recently home sales. The other sources are real estate agents in your neighborhood and local newspapers. It may be risky to rely on unofficial sources for data as the appeal may be turned down. When evidencing comparison, a transaction between two unknown parties will make your case stronger while the same between two known parties may not be accepted in an appeal. A sale that is done quickly in a bad market is poor evidence that weakens your case, while foreclosed homes can be used if those are the only comps in your area.

Caveats

Here are some precautions you need to take before making an appeal property tax assessment. Comply with the specific date the assessor has chosen to put a value to your home. Any comp produced before or after this date might be inadmissible. You may not come across people selling homes in your area especially in a weak housing market. You may access the services of a professional assessor to evaluate your home. They typically charge between $300-600 on an hourly basis. Alternatively an expert lawyer in property tax can do the job. They often charge on contingency basis and their fee may vary from one locality to the other.    

Tax Professionals' Resource