Lowering Property Taxes Via Reassessment

Over the past year or so the odds are that the value of your home has declined. Experts estimate that 60% of taxable property in the United States is over-assessed. Property taxes, the annual tax on the value of your home, are determined by your county assessor. If you believe the value of your home has gone down in value and is no longer as high as its assessed value, you can appeal your tax bill and file a ‘decline in value’ appeal for the current year.

As a rule, many county tax assessors wait until a house is sold or a homeowner performs a major value enhancing alteration, such as a major kitchen remodel, before reassessing a property. Property tax laws vary on a state-by-state basis so be sure to check your state procedures when looking into reducing your property taxes. You will have to appeal your property tax bill yourself because, as a general rule, assessors do not take it upon themselves to update property values.

Generally, you have to find at least three other comparable homes in your neighborhood that have lower assessments. Obviously, the lower the value of the homes, the better for you. A real estate agent who has access to multiple listing service can do a comparable market analysis of homes recently sold and in escrow to hone in on your home’s true value. You should also be able to get the information from your tax assessor’s office. Many assessors’ offices maintain a listing of comparable sales; it is available for inspection at little or no cost to you (not to exceed $10).

Before you begin to gather evidence about comparable properties, you should gather information about your own property. Determine the age, building size, lot size, and so forth for your property first and then compare that information with the assessor’s information for your property. You can obtain information about your property by contacting your local assessor’s office.

You will need to present evidence about the market value of your property as it existed on the assessment date. Evidence might include an appraisal report of your property done by an independent appraiser or a comparison of your property with similar properties that have recently sold in your area.

Be sure to obtain the full address and/or the assessor’s parcel number for each comparable sale you plan to present as evidence. If need be, you should drive by comparable properties to determine the similarities and differences between each comparable sale and your own property. Photographs may help to illustrate your case for the appeals board.

Based on the evidence presented by you, the appeals board can decrease an assessment. Note that they could also potentially increase the assessment as well. The decision of the appeals board is usually final; usually they do not reconsider or rehear any application.

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