Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment
Money Saving Ideas for Homeowners
This may be a good time to appeal your property tax assessment. Foreclosures were a major problem nationwide only a few years ago, and the market has not fully recovered in some places. Since your home values may not be as high as they used to be, and the local assessor may have been over-aggressive in raising your assessment, you need to make certain that your property tax bill is in line with what other nearby homeowners are paying, too. The next time you get a property tax assessment, you need to look closely at the assessed value of your home. Does this seem like a fair price to you, in view of the current real estate market? If you aren't certain, check with a Realtor in your area. They can tell you if the property tax assessor has assigned a fair market value to your home. If you believe that your property taxes assessment is too high, you can take steps to get it reduced.
Remember, once real estate values begin to rise, the property tax assessor in your county will not hesitate to raise the tax assessment on your home. You should not hesitate to have your property tax bill reduced when prices are depressed. It is only fair that you take advantage of this money saving idea. By appealing your property taxes now, you will have an opportunity to benefit for a least a few years from the lower property values. There is no reason to pay more than your fair share of taxes!
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Review Your Property Tax Assessment
The first step you will need to take is to carefully review your statement. If you have decided that your assessed value may be too high, you will need to thoroughly read the instructions about disputing your tax assessment. There will be deadlines that you will need to meet in order to even have your request considered. You will also need to see what documentation is required in order to dispute the assessment.
How to Find Supporting Evidence for a Lower Tax Assessment
Once you have carefully read the instructions for disputing your assessed value, you will need to gather the supporting evidence. Call a local Realtor and request that they run an MLS list of the sales in your area for the past six months. The properties need to be located as close to your home as possible, and they also should be as similar as possible in size and age. Tell the Realtor why you need the information, and they will know exactly what information you need. They do this frequently, so don't be embarrassed. The Realtor hopes that, if they give you good service on this issue, someday you will want to use them to buy or sell a home.
Do not ask for information on current real estate listings, unless you are just curious, and don't request a list of sales that are older than six months. The property tax assessor will not be interested in any information that is older than six months.
How to Compare Your Home to Other Houses
Now that you have a list of other sales that have occurred over the past six months, you will need to see how much each home sold for as a value per square foot. In other words, if a 1500 square foot house sold for $150,000, then the value per square foot was $100 a square foot. Find an average value per square foot for all the homes on your list. Then, multiply that amount times the square footage in your home.
For example, if your house is 1600 square feet, and the average price per square foot is $100 per square foot, then your home should be assessed for about $160,000. This is just your base value, however. Next you need to consider other reasons why your home may be worth more or less than the other houses on the list. Do you have more bathrooms, or fewer, than the other houses? Is your lot smaller or bigger? Have some of the other homes gone through a major remodeling? Now that you have the facts in front of you, you can decide whether or not the tax assessment still seems to be wrong. If it seems correct, drop the issue now. If you cannot honestly convince yourself that the assessment is wrong, you will not be able to convince the property tax assessor, either. However, after doing the work, if you have reason to believe that your house is worth at least $5,000 less than the current assessed value, you now have the documentation to prove it.
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Filing Your Property Tax Assessment Dispute
If you have determined that, based on the MLS information, your house is assessed for too much, then you need to complete the forms for your County Property Tax Assessor's Office. Make copies of all your documentation and include them with your request for a reassessment. Include the documents, even if they tell you NOT to. I have had my own homes reassessed in two different states, and I have always mailed in copies of my supporting documents. In both states, someone called me from the Property Tax Assessor's Office and informed me over the phone that they were voluntarily reducing the assessed value of our property. As a result, I was able to avoid attending a hearing.
An important note: Your information needs to be concise, on no more than one or two sheets of paper, and it needs to be neat and accurate. You don't want to overwhelm them with a mess of papers that they simply toss out. Less is best when filing for a change in property tax assessment!
Your Tax Assessment Hearing
If you do need to attend a meeting with an assessment review board, you should bring along several copies of your supporting documentation. That way, each member of the committee can look at it quickly and easily.
Be prepared to defend your point-of-view. You would be surprised how often the Property Tax Assessor's Office has incorrect information about your property, including how old it is, and how many square feet it is. Bring along anything you have in your possession that will enable you to correct their erroneous information, including a survey, builder's plans, an appraisal, etc. Stay calm when you present your information. Anger and hostility will only make the members of the tax assessment review board feel defensive.
If you are interested in reading more about real estate, you may be interested in the articles listed below:
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