Homeowners, It’s Property Tax Time – Considering an Appeal?
I’ve never felt the need to appeal my property taxes but I’ve known quite a few folks who have, some successful, some not so much. For the most part it was the homeowners who discovered inaccuracies in the information specifically about the property, who prevailed. I’m not personally aware of a home owner who appealed on the basis of assessed value and won, but I’m sure that it’s possible.
Proof of material features of the home is a fairly straight-forward fix. Photos and an original blueprint, perhaps remodeling invoices may be enough. If not, a physical inspection is always a possibility. Appealing assessed value on the other hand requires more groundwork and documentation.
What to Know About Property Tax Appeals
Appealing a property tax assessment is a process—and preparation is key.
Gathering the appropriate documentation is one of the most important steps to prepare. According to the Appraisal Institute, property taxes are based on the assessed value of the property—a variable that can change, and its location—fixed data that cannot change. Documents pertaining to a credible, independent appraisal can help make the case for a reassessment.
“Assessors aren’t out to ‘get’ homeowners,” says Jim Amorin, president of the Appraisal Institute. “They are usually local elected officials who not only want to make voters happy, but are trying to get it right. Typically, if an assessment is inaccurate, it’s because assessors use value models that don’t take into account the condition, features or improvements made in individual properties.”
Consult with the local assessor’s office to determine the steps for appealing an assessment, the Appraisal Institute advises. An appraiser versed in local regulations can also be a valuable resource.
Keep in mind, as well, that assessors will be on the lookout for too-low appraisals, so working with a qualified, professional appraiser is essential.
“It’s important for homeowners to hire an appraiser who conforms to industry standards,” Amorin says. “Designated members of the Appraisal Institute abide by a strict code of ethics and can help ensure an independent, objective and impartial opinion of value.”