Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

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betterfinances
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Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by betterfinances »

Last fall, I received the January 1, 2015 assessment of my home value, and to say the least, it was "sporty". I might be able to sell the house for that.....if I'm lucky. I filed a half-hearted appeal, and of course lost, which was not surprising because I put minimal effort into it.

I'm gearing up for next year.

I'm wondering if anyone has ever filed a successful appeal on the assessor's assessment of home value? If so, what are your tricks and techniques?
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MikeWillRetire
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by MikeWillRetire »

My wife tried to appeal on a rental property that we own, but she failed too.
Carefreeap
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by Carefreeap »

I've done it for two properties.

The most successful one was to use a full appraisal done by a licensed appraiser when I refinanced the house in 2009 after the market melt-down. This property is located in N. San Diego County. I had to resubmit the following year because the county appraiser claimed that prices had risen in 2010. :oops: Again common sense prevailed and the value was reduced again. The good news is that the assessment is still below market (but has risen) over the last six years. This has saved me thousands of dollars over the years.

The second property is one we own in AZ. I submitted comps gleaned from their own website. They split the difference with me. Since the difference in the value amounted to less than two hundred dollars a year I let it go. It took me about three hours to prepare the information and I needed to spend my money and efforts else where. At the time we were moving overseas and I had A LOT to do. Assessment is still below current market value and now AZ limits the assessment increase to 2% a year like CA.
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prudent
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by prudent »

We won our appeal two years ago. It was very simple. On the county assessor's website they list the comparables used for our assessment. I researched some key differences between our home and the comparables, primarily related to the amount of usable land. Filed our appeal, they gave us a date to appear, I went in with a few pages of photos and my explanations, and a few weeks later they notified us of the reduction.
Grogs
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by Grogs »

I got mine fixed, but it was pretty much an open and shut case. I bought the house in November, and the following January I got an assessment notice that the appraised value had been set at about 10% over my purchase price. I called them on the phone, and after I explained my situation, they just got me to e-mail them the HUD-1 from the sale, and set the appraised value at the purchase price. They do reviews on a 4-year cycle, and the next one is coming up in 2017. I have a feeling I'll get the 10% bump this time, and I'll have a much harder time appealing it.
JI0124
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by JI0124 »

Yes, I will call it moderate success. We built a house which was assessed the year after. The key was highlighting discrepancies in the "property identification card" compared to specs from our builder. For example the PID included line items for second garage door opener, granite countertops in master bath and more square footage. There are also some things for our specific homesite that could be justified to reduce value which I called out. I tried to use comps from the township that I live in but they said it needed to be within the actual subdivision, which actually backfired a bit.

In the end I had to schedule a 30 minute meeting with the local housing commission and present the case to them. I probably put a few hours total into it and they knocked down the assessed value by enough such that I didn't pursue it further. Next step I could have appealed to the state tax trinunal to reduce further, but they may have asked to inspect or dug deeper.

I know that I have many neighbors who could have done the same and saved money. Best part is that the process established the assessed value and there are limits to annual increases based on inflation year to year. Definitely worth it. Eighteen months later we had the home appraised (for another reason) and the value was significantly more than the assessment.

I recommend putting a bit of time in to build your case. You pay taxes every year and it's your only/best shot at reducing the tax especially if property values are rising in your location.
GenXer
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by GenXer »

Twice. In California. Both successfully. The first time, housing values were going down (we bought almost at the peak; values went down the following year). After that, the assessor's office reduced the value on our house (and others) on its own a couple more times. The second time I appealed was last summer: housing values were going up, but not as fast as the assessor's office seemed to think. I must say that the people working in our assessor's office were incredibly nice and helpful both times.
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Mrs.Feeley
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by Mrs.Feeley »

I've filed appeals four times and each time the assessor's office lowered the assessment to the home value I suggested. This includes appeals I've filed for relatives' homes in other cities. I start by finding similar homes that have sold in the past year within roughly six blocks of the residence. I get the final sale prices off the city assessor's web site, along with specifications for the homes including their age, style, square footage, lot size, number of bedrooms and baths, type of siding, age of roof and furnace. I make sure most of these elements match fairly closely those of the house whose assessment I'm appealing. I print the specs and sale prices off the assessor's web site. I include pictures of the houses to show that they're similar to the one whose assessment I'm appealing.

If possible I also try to find out the price at which those houses were originally placed on the market, and how long they sat on the market at particular price(s) before finally selling. If you have a house that sat on the market for ten months at $350K before finally selling at $250K a compelling argument can be made that a similar house should not be assessed at $350K. It takes a bit of advance planning to compile this sort of sales information. If I know I'll probably be appealing an assessment I start a year in advance collecting sales information on houses going for sale in the neighborhood. It's easy to look up and print sales information off real estate agents' web site, as well as watch for for-sale signs and watch real estate web sites for homes going up for sale and their prices falling over time.

I then assemble everything into a packet with a cordial and respectful two-page letter making an argument for a lower assessed value based on sales of similar homes in the neighborhood in the prior year, with documentation attached. It may seem like a lot of work but if you live in a high-property tax area, if you can lower an assessment by 20-25 percent it can peal thousands off your tax bill in subsequent years.
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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by FrugalInvestor »

I filed an appeal and was successful. I constructed my own 'appraisal' in exactly the manner a professional would do - found good comps closeby, made adjustments for apparent differences (size, condition, photos, etc.) and constructed a booklet with all the pertinent details, conclusions and reasoning. Using the booklet I testified in front of our 'board of equalization.' During the hearing I was able to question the assessor's representative about the primary comp used by their office for my house and many others in the neighborhood and point out flaws in their numbers and methods. It took a lot of preparation but paid off. I got about 80% of the reduction I requested.
Last edited by FrugalInvestor on Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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whodidntante
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by whodidntante »

I have successfully appealed twice, and I have not ever had an appeal denied. In each case, I had a recent professional appraisal in hand for another reason, so it was largely not debatable what the true market value was. However, if you do not have an appraisal, you can research the value of your home similar to how an appraiser would, to build the case that the assessment is inflated. It also helps to speak directly to the assessor in addition to sending documentation for whatever "case" you are able to build. Do not be pushy, but it is fine to make your case very clearly.
Khanmots
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by Khanmots »

Got a pretty good chunk off last time I appealed. Not as much as I tried for, but reduction from 180 to 150 or so.

Here they have to tell you what properties they used to base their assessment off of. I took that list then visited Zillow and snagged listing photos of the various upgrades and such that differentiated it from my home. Took notes of other stuff around the property (backed up to woodlands or a park or whatnot)

I then took photos of my home showing original appliances, linoleum, original HVAC, etc.

Then using zillow listing history I was able to reconstruct for a few homes that they were remodeled before selling. Showed that the house was listed for $X. Taken off the market, then 3 months later listed for $X+50k with a bunch of improvements (hardwood or granite counter-tops or something). Used that to show how much discount should be applied due to my house being in stock as-built condition.

I put together a packet with a summary page, then all the math and evidence behind it following. Had the requisite number of copies and printed out the photos from above. My house's photos were black and white, the ones of the nice nifty upgrades were in color ;)

Also, here at least, the protests are open meetings. I showed early and requested to sit in on one. They had to hunt up a chair to haul into the room for me :mrgreen: It helped me know what to expect and how to go about pleading my case.
jlawrence01
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by jlawrence01 »

Once, in Illinois, in 2014. The property tax dropped from $4050 to $3100 per year for each of the units in our condo association with a three year freeze.

Each unit was assessed $500 for legal fees. You would not believe the squawking over the increase in assessments. We thought it was a great ROI.
HIinvestor
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by HIinvestor »

I appealed twice for two separate HI properties. The first time, we worked out a compromise between the appraisals I had and the one they had for both properties. The second time, they reduced their appraisals to be closer to the ones I had obtained (fixing valuation upon death both times). I guess both would count as at least partial wins. Sometimes they would match our appraisal and sometimes we would compromise at a number between what they said were "comps" and the appraisals we had paid for.

I did notice that they didn't raise the property values on the rentals the following year or two as they had been doing regularly prior to the appeal, so that was an added benefit. They refunded the $25 or $50 appeal fee I paid for each appeal, since I "won."
Nowizard
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by Nowizard »

Appealed three consecutive times in the past, all successful. Obtain good information on neighboring homes. No appeal recently after moving. Local authorities actually reduced our assessment considerably during the recession.

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Steelersfan
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by Steelersfan »

I helped daughter appeal and she won.

I checked the county assessment page for the dimensions of the house, then looked at google maps to see how her's compared to next door houses. Her house was exactly as deep as the adjoining ones but the county site had it deeper. Score one.

I checked comparables. Her's were in an adjoining but substantially nicer neighborhood. The ones next door were in their real neighborhood, and much less. Score two.

She won on the first appeal, saving at least 50% on taxes.
Coinsinthefountain
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by Coinsinthefountain »

Over a five-year period our Texas property taxes kept going up, from $3,000 to eventually over $4,000. Online, we discovered our neighbors assessed values had not moved as much. Some, in fact, had not moved at all. I should add that no improvements had been made to our property to justify such radical raises. One-by-one, we calculated the percentage hike of each property owner on our block on a yearly basis over this five-year time span and put it on a spreadsheet. Clearly, ours stood out as the highest. We presented our case to the assessor who agreed we had not been treated “equally”. Since a refund was out of the question the office revalued our house at a much lower figure so we paid taxes of that amount rather than what our house is actually worth. We’ve been saving $800 annually for four years now.
Last edited by Coinsinthefountain on Mon Mar 07, 2016 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
cadreamer2015
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by cadreamer2015 »

I think this all varies by state and perhaps even locality. For our former home in New Jersey we hired an attorney who specializes in these things. He was paid on contingency - getting either 25% or 33% of the first year savings. NJ law says that your assessment is correct if it is within 15% of the market value. Our attorney was able to get the assessment reduced from about 150% of the price we paid to exactly 115%. The assessment stayed the same for the next 7 years until we sold the house. So we saved on property taxes for many years after the appeal. I considered it money well spent to hire the attorney.

In other jurisdictions the appeal process may be much more transparent and easy to negotiate. It certainly seems to be from other posters' experiences. The NJ process was opaque, which was why we hired the attorney.
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CT-Scott
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by CT-Scott »

I'm originally from CT and currently live there, but about 10 years ago moved to PA (stayed there about 2 years and then moved back to CT). The house we bought in PA was fairly new (< 10 years old) and we bought it from the original owners who had it built. Shortly after moving in, we received at least a couple of letters in the mail from companies (lawyers?) claiming that they could lower our property taxes. I think they charged a fixed % of the savings for the first year if they won. We took one of them up on the offer and they were successful.

When we moved back to CT we spoke to the real estate attorney that we used to see if he had any experience in doing that sort of thing. He hadn't but was willing to try on our behalf. I think we paid him a fixed amount for his services. He was unsure of whether we'd be more successful using a laywer or making the case ourselves in person, but I preferred to delegate it to him and take our chances. He was successful.

Being in CT we also have property taxes on our cars, and I'm pretty confident that our town has been significantly overvaluing/taxing our cars, so I'd like to challenge those as well. They give you a fairly short window of time to challenge the current year's appraisals, so I need to do some up-front research to see what I need to do to get my ducks in a row.
t3chiman
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by t3chiman »

betterfinances wrote:... anyone has ever filed a successful appeal on the assessor's assessment of home value? If so, what are your tricks and techniques?
Cook County (Chicago area) has a Board of Review, that organizes and streamlines the assessment appeal process. It's pretty straightforward. You find local comparables that are assessed less than yours, and submit the package of information. You can do it by mail, but word is, you do better going downtown for a hearing. The hearing is a pleasant, brief, chat with a generally sympathetic person. They will "get back to you" in 6-8 weeks. I've done it a few times, and gotten reductions that made the trip downtown worthwhile.
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by YttriumNitrate »

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tennisplyr
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by tennisplyr »

Yes I have had success. I live on Long Island and won my case with examples of other similar homes in my area with lower values. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.
gclancer
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by gclancer »

I successfully appealed two years in a row for the same property. If I hadn't moved, it might have become an annual ritual. And yes, the property sold for more than its tax appraised value :beer
novamtbr
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by novamtbr »

I successfully appealed my assessment this past year. Our home was assessed higher than our neighbors, additionally the most recent sales in the neighborhood were below my recent assessment. I first called the county assessor’s office to discuss my situation. The assessor worked with me to get my value in line with our neighbors. For our part it was easier than i anticipated - we had to fill out an appeal online, have a brief call with the assessor, but did not have to go before the review board.
J295
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by J295 »

yes, we have appealed and prevailed.

I imagine the success probability is materially impacted by the attitude of your county assessor.

Here, we take in whatever we choose to the appointed referee (an appraiser) and make our case. In our situation, we took some pictures and, most significantly, neighborhood comparable valuations (based on the county assessor's own square foot valuations). The comparable valuations here are very easy to locate online.

Personally, I think clear comparable valuations are the most meaningful, and skip the "oh my gosh my house is falling down and your value is way too high" presentations. Stick to the facts and ignore emotional appeals in your presentation; and in our jurisdiction the referee's are busy, so keep it short and give them good documents they can put in their file to support their decision to help lower your valuation.
nirm
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by nirm »

When I purchased my house, the sale price and appraisal where both lower than the assessment. I submitted that information and got the assessed value lowered. They did not lower it all the way to my requested amount, but I'll take the savings.
testing321
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by testing321 »

Carefreeap wrote:The most successful one was to use a full appraisal done by a licensed appraiser when I refinanced the house in 2009 after the market melt-down.
This was almost exactly my situation in 2009. I touted the advantages of the refi appraisal, that they had inspected the property whereas the county had only used a spreadsheet and their database of home characteristics and selling prices. It was a slam dunk. The county did not adjust my home value for several years after that.

I also appealed the same house in 2007 after the next door neighbors sold their home for a loss. I made the point that the home was a near twin to my house and sold by a realtor. The county had used three homes widely scattered around mine. I lost to the county, but the state appeals agreed with me. Both appeals were easy phone conferences lasting about 15 minutes.
Carefreeap
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by Carefreeap »

testing321 wrote:
Carefreeap wrote:The most successful one was to use a full appraisal done by a licensed appraiser when I refinanced the house in 2009 after the market melt-down.
This was almost exactly my situation in 2009. I touted the advantages of the refi appraisal, that they had inspected the property whereas the county had only used a spreadsheet and their database of home characteristics and selling prices. It was a slam dunk. The county did not adjust my home value for several years after that.

quote]

+1

Good job!

I'm all for paying appropriate property taxes. I did not challenge the assessment for our cabin when the Inland Empire took a dive during the melt-down. I might have shaved off $30k of assessed value but I knew the County was having serious financial problems. Trying to squeeze that extra bit of assessment down to save another $300 in taxes just seemed petty when we could well afford it and were already protected by prop 13.
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pshonore
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Re: Ever successfully appealed a property tax asssement?

Post by pshonore »

CT-Scott wrote:I'm originally from CT and currently live there, but about 10 years ago moved to PA (stayed there about 2 years and then moved back to CT). The house we bought in PA was fairly new (< 10 years old) and we bought it from the original owners who had it built. Shortly after moving in, we received at least a couple of letters in the mail from companies (lawyers?) claiming that they could lower our property taxes. I think they charged a fixed % of the savings for the first year if they won. We took one of them up on the offer and they were successful.

When we moved back to CT we spoke to the real estate attorney that we used to see if he had any experience in doing that sort of thing. He hadn't but was willing to try on our behalf. I think we paid him a fixed amount for his services. He was unsure of whether we'd be more successful using a laywer or making the case ourselves in person, but I preferred to delegate it to him and take our chances. He was successful.

Being in CT we also have property taxes on our cars, and I'm pretty confident that our town has been significantly overvaluing/taxing our cars, so I'd like to challenge those as well. They give you a fairly short window of time to challenge the current year's appraisals, so I need to do some up-front research to see what I need to do to get my ducks in a row.
It all depends on where you live and the local practices. In CT, property is assessed by by each of the 169 towns, all of whom are free to use their own approach. Most are required to re-assess every four years and I don't know of any where they are re-assessed on a sale or transfer. So if you buy a house and pay 50% of the assessed value (prices have dropped) you can go to the assessor and say "my house is worth 1/2 of what I paid for it", he will laugh and show you the door, because your house is assessed properly in relation to the other houses in town. If he dropped your value, he would have to drop everyone else's value by the same 50%. The mill rate would double and you pay the exact same tax. Houses are assessed by doing detailed measurements, multiplying by building cost factors, applying depreciation and adding values for extras (Central air, # of bathrooms, fireplaces , etc. and estimating the land value. Mistakes in measurements or features can reduce your assessment on appeal.

Cars are assessed by using something like KBB values, etc. You can appeal the value if your car has unreasonably high mileage, body damage, etc and probably get a reduction
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