Property Taxes: Can they be lowered?

Property Taxes. Part of life, right? Like the saying goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes.


But why pay any more taxes than you need to?

Recently clients Ben and Elisa were looking for a home throughout many school districts. They found one that was perfect: the soaring great room, the finished basement, the private backyard. The price was perfect, too! What caused them to hesitate? Yep, you guessed, the property taxes.

Their dream home was built at the top of the market in 2005 and as such had an assessment value that reflected this.

The tax burden would have made the dream home unattainable for Ben and Elisa, but after discussing the tax appeal process with them, they were confident enough to move forward with an offer.

Here is how that appeal process works.

1. First, determine if you would be eligible. To appeal your taxes, you must have a valid reason, which means your fair market value is at, OR BELOW, the assessment value.

For clients Ben and Elisa, the dream home’s fair market value was $300,000, but the assessment was $375,000. This means that the owners were paying taxes for $75,000 more of value that had evaporated when the housing market adjusted downward. For years they were paying without knowing they could appeal the taxes.

When I explained to them that the taxes could be appealed, Ben and Elisa could move forward with confidence knowing the taxes would almost certainly be lowered.

Local expert appraiser Steve Brown, with Brown Appraisers, stated that they win 99% of cases that they appeal for clients.

2. Understand the process

-If you have a valid difference in market value to appraisal value, the next step is to understand timing. All appeals must be submitted by August 1st for the tax year starting in January of the coming year. If you miss that deadline, it may be best to wait until that time frame comes closer.

-The assessment office does NOT allow short sales or foreclosures to be used in the appeal process, so be aware that only regular sales will be used to look at your fair market value. This is calculated as part of the service that Brown Appraisers provides with the appraisal.

-Again, the appeal is based on fair market value. It does not matter what all your neighbors’ assessments are. They may be too low or too high, which is why they do not look at neighboring assessment, ONLY the fair market value.

-Your fair market value must ideally be 10% LESS than your assessed value to have a valid case. If the numbers are the same, you may still have a case, as the assessment is made at a rate lower than fair market value.

3. Check your tax record for accuracy. Many times as a Realtor, I see tax records that are incorrect.

With Ben and Elisa, the square footage of the home may have been overstated, causing the assessment value to be higher. Making sure your tax information is correct will ensure that you are getting a fair assessment on that regard as well.

If your tax record says you have 4 bedrooms and you only have 3, this will create a higher value and consequentially higher taxes.

To check your record and current assessment go to:

4. If you are ready to start the appeal process, a professional can make all the difference. Brown Appraisers offer local tax assessment appeal for a flat rate of $600 currently.  Visit Brown Appraisers for more information.

Questions on your value? Feel free to call us anytime. We are happy to help our neighbors.

View the video blog here —>

Naomi Brown 717-819-2825


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