To win a property tax appeal assessment is neither hard nor intimidating. Most disputes are settled not in a courtroom but in informal hearings with the assessor.
FIND FACTUAL ERRORS
You are most likely to win your property tax appeal if you can find factual error in your assessment. Make an appointment with the assessor and bring proof… photos etc that support your claims.
Mistakes in real estate assessments happen all the time. One tax appeal specialist says that he finds errors in 60% of the cases he investigates. Mistakes like the age of the house, having asbestos siding or improper measuring.
LEARN HOW YOUR HOUSE HAS BEEN INSPECTED
Some systems that counties use is inherently imperfect. Trending is one. It’s based on current median sale prices and current average price. Many houses will be over assessed and under assessed. Getting information on homes that recently sold for less than your assessed value will always help your case and give you good grounds for a reduction.
In most counties, all houses are supposed to be inspected on the same day, in the same way, by well-trained assessors. Many times that in not how it usually happens in the real world. Often employees don’t bother to inspect anything except new construction or additions. Even when properties are inspected, the examination may be nothing more than a drive-by. There simply are not enough trained assessors to go around, and they are often prevented from going inside by dogs in your yard or your neighbor’s yard.
CHECK THE VALUE OF YOUR HOUSE AND YOUR NEIGHBOR’S
Check to make sure that the value of your house is in line with the value assessed to other homes in your neighborhood. You could have a real estate agent find three comparable homes. Most good agents don’t mind helping you because you might use them don’t the road. Many times you could also call for the information for yourself at the assessment office. Remember you want to be able to prove your house is in worse condition than then the comparables. Cracked foundation or flood damage. Try to compare your home to the best ones in your neighborhood.
The easy way for most homeowners is to use the market approach in their appeal. But it does not hurt to ask the assessor to take you through the steps that local officials used to calculate the value. You may find that errors were made either in the calculations or in the assumptions behind them.
GET STARTED TAKE ACTION
1. Get a copy of your most recent home appraisal. If you can’t find it, call your city assessors office. Or take a visit to the office to view the official records.
2. Take photos of your house and the houses that you wish to compare your house to. Use a high quality camera. If you don’t have one borrow one from a relative or friend or hire a professional photographer.
3. View the assessor records and look for mistakes in your favor. This is important because there is a chance that the mistakes will favor the government. And that would conclude your inquiries.
4. Put in writing the reduction you believe you are entitled to and show proof along with the reasons for the reduction. This includes photos, recent sales and neighbor’s assessments.
5. Look for tax reductions for the disabled, senior citizens or veterans and low income homeowners. There are many new government plans out there. Do some research to see if your home falls into any of these categories.
6. Look for reductions for energy saver homes or if your house is old enough it might qualify for an historic homes tax discount.
7. Find out all deadlines and forms and use them. Call the assessors office or look for the information on their website.
8. Get help from real estate agents or experts in property tax reduction. You might have to call a few agents but it will be worth the phone calls.
9. Remember that nobody cares about you and your money as much as you. So stay focused on your goal and persist with out ceasing.
WORTH THE EFFORT
Remember most disputes are settles in informal hearings. So don’t be afraid to seek a property tax appeal. For a little bit of work and a small investment in time. You could save hundreds even thousand’s of dollars each and every year.