I have had several clients and friends ask me about their most recent Albemarle County Tax Assessments (just sent to home owners yesterday) and if there is any way to fight the numbers. I found a really great article that summarizes everything you need to know about this subject and then some. Many thanks to Sellsius Real Estate Blog!
Some reassuring words of wisdom…
Public tax assessors do not visit your home to value it. They don’t even do a drive-by. And they have less information than the MLS– sometimes only beds, baths, square footage. Besides being incomplete, the data may be inaccurate (just ask Zillow, who uses public data). In determining your home’s market value, the tax assessor usually just looks at recent sales in your area and picks a number, often based on the highest sale. Don’t fret. You can fight city hall, if you know how.
So will this really work?
What are your chances? According to the National Taxpayers Union, your chances of getting a lower tax bill are about 1 in 3. But like most statistics, ignore them. You lose little by trying. And if you lower your tax bill, it helps on a future sale to have property taxes lower than your neighbors. Also, in a time of falling house prices, you have a better chance of winning, since the public data, like Zillow’s, is lagging the market.
This agent’s advice;
A few pointers when fighting your tax assessment:
- Ask to see a written notice of your appeal rights
- File your appeal promptly (use certified mail RRR), according to the instructions. Make a copy for your records.
- Ask for an “in person” appeal. It’s much better than just sending in paperwork.
- Ask the assessor for the information used to calculate your assessment, including all comps and data on your home — remember, the public data may be wrong, right David Gibbons?
- Get your local broker to gather evidence to dispute the market value– recent sales and current list prices of appropriate comps– and put it in a written report, very much like a CMA report.
- Document (photos) the unzillowables, like the sewer drainage pipe next to your shore house or the steep (useless) lot you’re on, as opposed to your neighbors. Remember, the tax assessor is unaware of these unzillowables when it comes to your individual house, right David?
- Hire an appraiser if you are allowed to (some jurisdictions forbid it)