The real estate market in America fluctuates so often that it is hard to keep up with. You may notice the prices of the homes in your neighborhood decreasing more and more every year, and when the value of a home decreases, so does the property assessment. However, many people do not know that with a lower property assessment comes lower property taxes. If the value of your home has decreased, but the property assessment has not, this could mean you are over paying in property taxes. It is estimated that as much as 60% of homes in America are over assessed, making a majority of homeowners over pay in property taxes.The process of appealing property taxes is tedious and may take a lot of time and effort, but it could save an abundance of money in the end. It is important to do the proper research so you have evidence to back up your appeal so you can save as much money as possible.
Steps To Take
1.) Call your local assessor’s office. This step is the best starting point because a homeowner needs to know what date the assessments go out and when the appealing deadline is. If your request for an appeal comes into the assessor’s office late, you have to wait until the following year, and sometimes you have to wait until the next round of assessments, which could be longer than a year.
2.) Make sure you have a case. Assessments can be appealed on two grounds: either an assessment at a higher rate than comparable homes or a mistake in the assessment. This is where the hard work and research comes into play.
3.) Check for mistakes. Some mistakes are easily recognized and fixed quickly without any problems. Mistakes could be as simple as square footage being written down wrong, or a miscount in the number of bedrooms. Take a quick glance through these easy sections to ensure they are correct.
- Make sure that the information on your home is up to date so that all information is relevant as to avoid future mistakes on your property assessment. It makes the process easier on the assessor and you.
- If you can, have an appraiser or assessor come to your home. Many do not come to the home and only write a description of your home based on that of similar homes in your neighborhood. This could lead to miscalculations.
- Make note of any modifications you have made to your home. Assure that the assessor’s office gets this information, because certain modifications can increase or decrease the value of a home.
4.) Compare with your neighbors. You can find information on comparable homes in your neighborhood at the assessor’s office. When looking at a comparable home, look at ones that are the same size, age, and general location. Even the smallest matter of having a home near a busy road decreases the value of that home compared to one nestled in the back of a neighborhood. After you have compared 5-10 homes, decide whether you have a case.
5.) Make your case. If you believe you assessment is too high, and have good evidence on either a mistake on your assessment or compared to other’s homes, contact the assessor’s office. Try and arrange a one-on-one informal meeting with an assessor. Most times, things can be settled here in this meeting without going to court. If you have to go to court, make sure you have all your evidence in order and have a strong argument. Be prepared, and if finances allow, hire a lawyer if you feel the pressure is too much.