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Property Tax Assessment
Old 10-03-2010, 10:22 AM   #1
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Property Tax Assessment

I was looking at Zillow other day at houses in our general neigborhood. Zillow has info on square footage of houses, # beds, # baths, etc., but aloo has the assessed values of the homes and the respective property taxes for the properties. I noticed that the taxes on some homes that appear to be bigger than ours (more square footage, more rooms, etc.) have lower taxes than ours. The differerences are not huge---probably within a $200-$400 range. I am assuming the data on Zillow is accurate---the taxes, sq footage, # rooms, etc. for my home is correct. Do tax assessments reflect things like the quality of the home (e.g. brick vs. aluminum siding, high end kitchens vs. low end)? I am assuming that the valuation methods are not that sophisitcated. Would I have any luck using the Zillow data to try and get my tax assessment reduced? Thanks.
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Old 10-03-2010, 11:21 AM   #2
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No. Zillow would do you no good whatsoever. Instead of something bogus like zillow, why not use the same source the tax assessor uses: The tax assessor's database. In our county, any citizen can go to the tax assessor's records and mine the data. We have won every tax protest we have tried. They can't argue with their own facts.
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Old 10-03-2010, 11:27 AM   #3
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Property taxes are a very local issue. I can only comment on how they are done in Los Angeles where I live. All property tax info here is public and posted on the internet. Instead of depending on Zillow perhaps you can get the "real" info there. Our taxes are based on sale prices (about 1 1/4% of the sales price) and can only rise 2% per year because of prop 13 which capped them back in the 70's. There is also voted indebtedness. For example if a local school bond issue is passed they would add debt to property taxes. Then there are sewer and street light taxes, etc. If recent sales prices are lower than what I paid for a comparable house, I could petition the county to lower my taxes. They have done so numerous times over the years as prices rose and fell.

If bigger, more expensive houses are paying less, I would contact your tax collector and find out what recourse you have.
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Old 10-03-2010, 12:10 PM   #4
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All property tax info here is public and posted on the internet.
The same is true here in New Orleans. The differences in property taxes (here) seem more related to how long you have had the house, than to the present value of the house.
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Old 10-03-2010, 12:46 PM   #5
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Zillow shows the exact data (and taxes) as our county records show.

That's to be expected, since that's where they say they get their information (e.g. "public records"), and shows gross tax due (not paid, since I pay early and get the 2% discount) for the current year.

It also shows current sales data (e.g. "comps") as reported by the county, for homes in my area.

Good enough for me. Of course, I can't speak for other areas of the country...
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Old 10-03-2010, 03:40 PM   #6
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In my community, if you try to challenge your assessment and merely mention Zillow, the review panel cuts off the discussion. I guess in the past the Zillow data were all over the place so our local board essentially will not even consider it...even though last time I checked, the info on my home was accurate.

Like previous posters noted, the assessor's own data is the best to use.
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Old 10-03-2010, 03:58 PM   #7
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Where on Zillow do you find the tax info ?
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Old 10-05-2010, 06:48 PM   #8
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It varies by location, but Zillow uses the state property tax database in our area. What I have found from various re-fi appraisals is that there are many many errors in the database from the go-go real estate days I guess. If you actually drive by some of the homes, you may find the sq footage or other details are incorrect.....not talking about a few sq ft, but major obvious differences that you can detect just driving past.
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:10 PM   #9
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It varies by location, but Zillow uses the state property tax database in our area. What I have found from various re-fi appraisals is that there are many many errors in the database from the go-go real estate days I guess. If you actually drive by some of the homes, you may find the sq footage or other details are incorrect.....not talking about a few sq ft, but major obvious differences that you can detect just driving past.
In my location, Zillow doesn't have info on square footage, or number of bedrooms or baths. Zillow's value for my home is 15% higher than the supposed market value used by our property tax assessor to determine the assessed value. And oddly, every house in the neighborhood has the same Zillow value, within a thousand or two even though some houses in my neighborhood sell for twice what other houses sell for. Basically Zillow is great in some parts of the country, and in others it is very much lacking (IMO).
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Old 10-05-2010, 08:45 PM   #10
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Where on Zillow do you find the tax info ?
When you select the "details" tab, it will give you additional information such as the tax paid for the last few years allong with assessed value.

In our area of the country, assessments do not change (we have not had a re-assessment for close to 20 years). Even if homes are sold, the base assessment for a hone is not changed, so the current "value" (based upon a sale) does not affect the taxes paid vs. assessment.

We built our home 16 years ago (on raw land). At that time, the assessment was changed due to the "improvement" to the property (e.g. the house).

The only other time an assessment will change is if a certain kind of improvement is made, such as an addition. Since you need a permit to have the work done, the taxing authority may change your assessed value if the improvement increases the value of your property, overall.

I understand that in certain areas of the country, homes are taxed based upon current true value (based upon current sales). However, that's not the case for us. Additionally, since our assessments are not based upon current market value, changes to taxes are not made. Really, it dosen't matter if housing value drops, since in general all the homes in our area would drop at the same rate, but municipal services still are expected and would have to be paid for. So your house reduces in value, but that does not affect your taxes at all.
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:03 AM   #11
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Try google using these key words: <myCountyName> GIS , so many counties have their Geographical Information System on line and in there there is often a direct lin to tax information once you locate a parcel number.
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Old 10-06-2010, 08:28 AM   #12
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I usually Google County name and RE Tax assessment. It brings up the county's tax site, and from there it's easy to find all sorts of info. So far I haven't found anyplace that doesn't have it online, even in our current Ivery poor) county. I discovered this back in 1998 in Montgomery County MD (early adopter). We used to call it the Nosy Neighbor site.
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