Author Topic: Appealing Property Tax Assessments  (Read 1702 times)

BlueHouse

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Appealing Property Tax Assessments
« on: April 13, 2017, 10:14:33 AM »
My property tax has been increasing by the maximum capped amount each year since I bought and I'd like to slow that down.  I think it's in my best interest to appeal every year and I also think that if I put time and energy into appealing early, then I can benefit from any slowed growth in assessments over all the years I stay in the house. 

I don't have any control over the tax rate, but I may have some control in getting the "taxable assessment" to stop growing each year. 

A few years ago, I appealed, but didn't really have a leg to stand on.  Went in with little evidence and left saying "nevermind". 
This year, I appealed using photos of hail damage that I chose not to repair, and that I accepted a payment from my insurance company for.  I don't know the results of this yet.

Other than the normal processes of showing comp assessments, does anyone else have ideas on what I can show in future (and when I meet with the assessor at his office) to prove my claim that my house assessment should not increase with the rest of the neighborhood?

Would pictures of cracks in concrete or flaking paint help?  We have a major construction project near us that causes a lot of extra dust and dirt.  Would dirty windows and advanced house settling help? 

Any advice is appreciated.  My property tax increased by 32% in the past 5 years, and that is WITH a 10% cap and with Homestead Deduction. 

MDM

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Re: Appealing Property Tax Assessments
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2017, 06:30:09 PM »
Other than the normal processes of showing comp assessments....
That is indeed the usual (and if favorable to you, likely the most successful) way to proceed.  Do you have at least a few recent, comparable, sales that indicate your house is over-appraised?

SwordGuy

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Re: Appealing Property Tax Assessments
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2017, 07:48:25 PM »
I've appealed one successfully and have 4 appeals outstanding at the moment.

Our county does the reassessment about every 7 years.  The last time I did it I checked the property tax records to see the current and past assessments of the other houses on my street.

Assessments on homes changed in value from about 23% to 56%.  One empty lot went up 900% in value.  I pointed out that, for a 7 house street in which no house was more than 500 feet from all the others, that was a ludicrously inconsistent rate of increase between the houses.

What's more, the more desirable properties (not next to the loud and busy highway) went up the least.
I pointed out that the house next to ours, which had shot up in value, had sold for 60% of its assessed value just 2 years prior, and that it had been purchased by a contractor who pumped $50k to $60k of improvements into the property.   

I noted that not only had my own home NOT had that kind of improvement, the property records showed features (like a deck) that my property did not have.

The assessment had gone up about $60k (50%) and I shaved about $25k off that with the appeal.  Not as much as I wanted but  still saved me money for the last 7 years.

The 4 appeals I have going now are as follows:

1) We attempted to have our house put up for sale last fall and had received an estimate of the likely sales price from our realtor.   It was significantly less than the assessed value.  Probably our weakest appeal.

2) Our new house was refinanced last winter and we had to have an appraisal.  The appraised value was significantly below the assessed value.  In addition, the appraisal is in line with the fact the home was on the market for some years at the assessed value and didn't sell.

3) Rental #3 is not habitable.  It was bought at 1/3 of after-repair-value, but the repairs have not yet been made.  The house is not habitable.  The kitchen is not functional and the floors are torn apart.  We argue that it's worth 40% of assessed value until the repairs are completed.

4) Flip #1 was bought last winter.  It was abandoned (even by squatters).   It is not habitable.   The electrical, water, gas, and hvac systems are vandalized and/or inoperative.   The roof was failing.  All interior ceilings, sheetrock and insulation have to be removed and replaced.  Plus other damage.
We maintain it's worth what we paid for it ($101k), not the $354k they have assessed it at.
We pointed out that it had failed to sell for several years at less than the assessed value.  We also pointed out that the empty lot next door has also failed to sell for some years for less than the assessed land value portion of the lot.   

We also used Zillow to find other distressed properties as comps, arguing that well-maintained properties in good neighborhood are not comparable sales to a property in such a distressed condition.   We were able to show that other properties with much less damage had a very steep drop in value.

We'll see.   But all told, we're talking about $400k difference in valuations over the 4 properties.   We did not dispute our other 2 properties as their valuation was spot on.

« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 08:02:04 PM by SwordGuy »

BlueHouse

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Re: Appealing Property Tax Assessments
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2017, 08:09:12 PM »
Other than the normal processes of showing comp assessments....
That is indeed the usual (and if favorable to you, likely the most successful) way to proceed.  Do you have at least a few recent, comparable, sales that indicate your house is over-appraised?
I have recent comparable sales, but those have sold for higher than appraised.  The prices of the houses keep going up and the assessments are keeping pace as much as they can.  I just didn't budget for my property tax to increase by the max amount every single year, so I want it to slow down.  But fighting policy is fruitless, so I'm trying to find anything valid that might just take my assessment down a notch or two. 

If a crime report would do it, I'd bring in all the crime reports.   (not that it's higher than anywhere else in the city, it's not, but it's also not a zero-crime area and I can show package theft from neighbors on my block and two carjackings within 3 blocks). 

My understanding is that home assessments are individual -- so even if you convince the assessor that the whole city sucks and that's why your home value shouldn't be increased, only the people who give that argument and appeal will have their assessments reduced.  I don't mind being the person who goes back year after year after year if it works because a little bit shaved off each year will be a big difference 20 years from now. 

affordablehousing

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Re: Appealing Property Tax Assessments
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2017, 08:29:48 PM »
Why don't you just get a new appraisal done showing a lower value? In our county that's the only accepted evidence.

BlueHouse

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Re: Appealing Property Tax Assessments
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2017, 04:33:07 AM »
Why don't you just get a new appraisal done showing a lower value? In our county that's the only accepted evidence.
Interesting. It's not the same here, but can you get an independent appraiser to report whatever value you want? 
In reality, my house would not appraise lower, and it is not an unfair assessment compared to others. 

I just want to tighten the throttle so I'm not paying an enormous amount in 10 years.
Game the system in my favor
Be the squeaky wheel





ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Appealing Property Tax Assessments
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2017, 07:50:22 AM »
If it's in line with others nearby there's likely nothing you can do short of replacing your local officials. Even that probably won't do much, since if you're like me the main driver of tax increases is pensions already committed to.

Raenia

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Re: Appealing Property Tax Assessments
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2017, 08:32:35 AM »
If the new assessed value is actually in line with your home's value and similar to other houses in the neighborhood, then I'd bet you won't have much luck.  You say you don't think the assessment is unfair for the neighborhood, so I would just appreciate the local roads, schools, libraries, and other benefits you get from living there, pay your 'fair share.'  Vote carefully next local election, and if the taxes are really getting that bad, consider moving somewhere lower cost?

Tiger Stache

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Re: Appealing Property Tax Assessments
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2017, 11:58:41 AM »
This past year i checked the assessments of about 8 or 9 houses on my street and put everything in a spreadsheet. My increase was in line for the most part with the others, while my across the street neighbors went up higher. I just kept quiet. I'll do the same next year.

Rural

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Re: Appealing Property Tax Assessments
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2017, 06:24:53 PM »
Showing actual issues with the property can make a difference, though. When we bought the vacant lot next door, we got the assessed value down from $50K to the $15K we paid for it with a topographic map (it's a ravine, unbuildable and worthless to anyone who doesn't own the adjoining property).

Spork

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Re: Appealing Property Tax Assessments
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2017, 06:32:37 PM »
Finding "the right guy" at the tax office is worth a zillion bucks.

Wifey went in to protest her mom's property.  It went from being valued at a couple hundred thousand to multi million in a year.  If you looked at the land around it... it was clearly being dragged upward by land that was awful/unbuildable/swamp but owned by the county (and hence untaxed).  It was valued at some ungodly high rate.

Anyways... wifey walks in and accidentally gets the guy that runs the joint.  He sees the land is average.  It's rural. It's agricultural.  It's owned by an old widow.  He starts slashing it... finding faults everywhere.  When he was done, he had it valued less than the previous tax year.  Some folks just do the right thing.