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Property Assessment appeal
Old 08-25-2014, 04:30 PM   #1
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Property Assessment appeal

I believe that the county assessor has significantly over assessed the value of my home by aproximately $50,000. According to them my place had increased nearly $100,000 since last year alone. This is about a 30% increase in value and far exceeds the averages for the county I live in.

The neighboring home (the mirror image of mine) was recently listed for $55,000 less and they have accepted an offer for that price, but the sale has not yet closed. Other than the fact that then neighbor's house has been professionally 'staged' they are near equivalent.

I would appreciate any advice from people who have successfully appealed a property tax assessment.
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Old 08-25-2014, 05:20 PM   #2
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I have successfully appealed my property tax twice. It was handled via mail both times. No showing up or anything. The first time I paid a company that specializes in this to do the research. (Sadly they no longer exist) The second time I did it myself.
On both occasions, the taxing authority did not agree 100% to my lower proposed assessment but we met in the lower middle of the hike in assessment. The last time they did a 30% hike on assessment and, after my online appeal, it went down to only 8%. Well worth my time.
The first thing is to contact them and find out about the appeals procedure they require and the date it must be filed by.
Next, contact a friendly realtor in your area. It helps if it’s a friend or a friend of a friend. Ask them to lunch. Make sure it is your treat. Tell them you need comps (comparable listings) in your area and why. Ask if they have time to preform that service for you. If not, that’s OK. Just contact another agent. You will find someone glad to do it for you, just to make a contact with you for good will and possible referrals.
If your county has tax records online you might be able to pull up tax rates for lots/houses in your area to see if you are in the norm.
Once armed with your comps, write a short one page letter of appeal listing why you think your house should be appraised lower. (Three house just like yours, (same sq ft., etc.) sold in your area for $XXXXX less than the current assessment on my property. Plus, they had been updated with granite countertops and blah blah. My house still has the builder grade counters and the baths are outdated…)
Now tell them. According to my research and the recently sold houses in my area, my house should be accessed at $XXXXXXXX. Attach copies of the comps and tax records. Mail it in and hope for the best.
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:12 PM   #3
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I successfully appealed my assessment last year. From what you wrote it sounds like there are good comps out there demonstrating that the value of your property is significantly less than the assessment. Do you have any idea how the property tax assessment of the mirror image property (and any other similar properties in your neighborhood) compare to yours? Around here, you can go to the town clerk's office and get the assessment calculations and compare them.

I think it is an easier argument if your assessment is out of line with similar properties in the vicinity than if your assessment is just off of the fair value of your property because fair value is frequently quite judgmental.

I wrote a very detailed letter stating my case and the comps and then also met with them and discussed it. We had rebuilt and that was the cause of the reassessment. The building value was reasonable, but they wanted to increase the value of my lot by 30%/$47k because I added a driveway to a public road (the access was previously from a private road). In the end, they agreed to limit the increase in the value of the land to the cost of the driveway which was less than 10% of the proposed increase.
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:49 PM   #4
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Used to have to do it all the time when I lived in San Antonio. Those greedy bastards would always bump it up, and every time I would get comps and evidence that their increase was not supported. Usually would get some compromise increase between zero (last year's value) and the inflated value they wanted. Which is a lot better than settling for what they increased originally. Especially in TX this is significant since no state income tax and you pay huger prop/school taxes. So any reduction results in significant money back in your pocket.

Basically it is definitely worth your time and there is a formal process. Just make sure you have good comps and evidence to support your claimed value. They can be reasonable if you are reasonable. Be unrealistic and you will not get results.
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Old 08-25-2014, 11:17 PM   #5
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One of the problems that you have is that they have a formula on what they are willing to take as a minimum and what YOU want...

Sometimes you can get a bit off... others you cannot... I have taken mine to the appeals board twice and won one and lost one... the one that I won was only due to them figuring out the true sq.ft. of my house and applying their cost per sq.ft..... they said that it did not matter... but the board voted in my favor 2 to 1... I did not get any other reduction that I should have.... and they did not look at any of my comps...


The second time I lost... I did comps on ALL the houses that were in the 4 blocks around me... showed that I was in the top 10% per sq.ft. etc. etc... they brought up comps that were not even in my neighborhood... they even said that with these comps my house should be valued higher than it was... I lost 2 to 1... but the 1 was not in my favor... she wanted to increase my value to the new higher value... the other 2 did not think I should be punished for protesting...



My sister just went today for her protest with the district.... the guy said all their calculations showed a higher value then what she had and they would not budge an inch...

You can try, but I think it is rigged big time...
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Old 08-26-2014, 05:57 AM   #6
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they raised my property taxes 17% two years ago. I called into find out why the valuation changed so much. the assessor's office said our people just drove by and they thought it was worth that much. It would be nice to have that control over people that you can do that. Now how much work will I have to do to prove the valuation should not have gone up that much? strange part is my neighbors or either side only saw a valuation increase of 9% on basically the same properties.
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Old 08-26-2014, 07:15 AM   #7
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It's not uncommon at all. I appealed mine several years ago, and it was easy. We quickly reached a satisfactory adjustment.

Coincidentally, I just got my new assessment a couple of weeks ago, and it went down nearly 10% from the previous (3 years ago) assessment. I was happy!
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Old 08-26-2014, 10:02 AM   #8
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I appealed mine and won. I simply pointed out the ways that the comps THEY chose were actually better properties than mine, using photos from google satellite view.
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Old 08-26-2014, 12:25 PM   #9
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Many many years ago I used to manage a megacorp property taxes and appeals were a primary focus.
The use of comps are essential but what has not been mentioned yet is examining the Assessor's actual appraisal card they have on your property. Many times you will find errors in what they use for condition and square foot calculations. Sometimes you can get the data from the Assessor's website, but it is always available at the assessor office.
I agree if you have any data to support your position, it is worth the time to appeal.
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Old 08-26-2014, 12:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
From what you wrote it sounds like there are good comps out there demonstrating that the value of your property is significantly less than the assessment. Do you have any idea how the property tax assessment of the mirror image property (and any other similar properties in your neighborhood) compare to yours?
The mirror image property is appraised at the same value as my property. The owner just accepted an offer for $56,000 less than the appraised value, but the sale is not yet final so it's not recorded.
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Old 08-26-2014, 03:08 PM   #11
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Unless the comp you mention is an outlier, presumably there are other comps for completed transactions that you can use and then include the mirror image property under contract as additional anecdotal evidence. If the other comps support their higher number and the mirror image property under contract is the outlier then you may have less of a case.
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Old 08-26-2014, 04:54 PM   #12
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Hired a service to do it last year, run by a former assessor. He got a couple grand taken off my tax bill.
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Old 08-26-2014, 05:04 PM   #13
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We did this in 2010. We tried to appeal ourselves and it didn't work. Hired an appraiser that does this kind of work, and she did a detailed report for a few hundred bucks. Worth every penny, since when we went back (I think DH did it in person, since we were so concerned), they accepted it carte blanche. Knocked $80K off the assessed value.

The detailed written report was the key, I think.
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