Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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  #1  
Old 07-06-2011, 10:39 PM
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Getting Property Taxes Lowered

The SEV on our house is $28,600. Since this is supposed to be half of market value, that means that the city thinks the market value of our house is $57,200, which is laughably high. The market value of our house is about $48,000 if we are lucky, and may be as low as $30,000 in this said, down market. If I thought I could get $57,200 for this house, I'd list it tomorrow.

So how do we go about getting the SEV lowered? Do I need to pop for an appraisal? Should I call an attorney or a CPA? Has anyone else done this?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 07-07-2011, 12:17 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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You need to call the property appraisers office and request a re-evaluation of your home - it might be called a protest - depending on the office.

What is SEV? Also don't be surprised if you find that half value is no longer used. I know in Orange County, FL it use to be the taxable value was about 60% of he value of the home - not anymore. They go by the sale price of the home or homes in your area that are of the same type and size. In Florida they have a thing called "save our homes" which means they can only go up 3% max on the taxable value of your home if it is homesteaded. But there are lots of people complaining since they paid too much for their homes and they are now not worth a thing but they still have to pay taxes on them. The taxable value can also be increased and is increased if you pull a permit for any work on your home - trust me they do lots of stuff to come up with the value that you would not believe. Also remember if your home does not have the homestead exemption applied to it they can go up on the value a lot more since they can look at the rental rates in your area and tax you based on the income value instead of the value of the property. I deal with my bosses rental properties and I have to fill out forms each year to list the income we received on these buildings each year and this is on commercial and residential properties. Not fun.
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Old 07-07-2011, 12:39 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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"SEV" stands for State Equalized Value.
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Old 07-07-2011, 04:07 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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Our house is homesteaded. We've done a good bit of work to it, but haven't needed a permit for any of it. We haven't added anything new, we've only replaced things.
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Old 07-07-2011, 06:04 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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Don't be surprised when you ask for a new valuation that they want to see the inside of the house. They also can come back with a higher value so it is a YMMV thing and can bite you in the tush.
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Old 07-07-2011, 06:34 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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Hrm. I think the outside of our house looks better than the inside, TBH. And the big ticket stuff that we've done- windows and doors- are visible from the outside.
Do you think it would it help if I got the house appraised and turned that in?
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Old 07-08-2011, 08:49 AM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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Quote:
Originally Posted by LetaB View Post
Hrm. I think the outside of our house looks better than the inside, TBH. And the big ticket stuff that we've done- windows and doors- are visible from the outside.
Do you think it would it help if I got the house appraised and turned that in?
No they do not care what an independent appraiser says it has to be done by their appraisers. Save yourself the money on an appraiser and call their office today and ask what has to be done. Don't spend money that you don't need to for a useless appraisal - which you could not use if you did the refi on that loan - the banks get to specify the appraisers and sometimes will not even give you a copy of the appraisal they get.
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:42 AM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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They go by their own calculations since they want it to be as fair as possible when comparing other homeowners. Its going to be the same everywhere, unless your city/town has just down a re-evaluation. Since everyone is being appraised with the inflated amount, you are all still paying the fair share really if you think about it. If they reduce everyone's evaluation, then the tax rate will go up that's all, you'll still pay the same in the end. My house appraised for $198,000 when they did the appraisal in December. We had just built the house and bought it for $169,000, so I know that the town's appraisal is off, but its because they use a cost per sq ft figure that is somewhat old and not caught up with the current real estate market, but because that's what they have used for everyone, its still fair and its ok.
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Old 07-08-2011, 10:09 AM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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I'd be afraid to call in our town. They would probably figure out a way to jack the taxes up even more!!
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Old 07-08-2011, 12:40 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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I would try doing it without calling an attorney and CPA first. Don't be afraid. My mom does it every year...yet she doesn't go in there mickey mousing either...LOL. She asks to speak to a supervisor and she makes her own case. She has never gone through a lawyer. She has saved thousands and has found many mistakes. The key is being demanding and firm. I think it also depends on where you live. She lives in the South.
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Old 07-08-2011, 01:57 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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Originally Posted by SouthernBellSaver View Post
I would try doing it without calling an attorney and CPA first. Don't be afraid. My mom does it every year...yet she doesn't go in there mickey mousing either...LOL. She asks to speak to a supervisor and she makes her own case. She has never gone through a lawyer. She has saved thousands and has found many mistakes. The key is being demanding and firm. I think it also depends on where you live. She lives in the South.
You don't have to do it that way. Most Property Appraisers have a form to request a review of the appraised value. It is a standard practice. Everyone that owns property can request a revision/update of the taxable value and you don't have to demand it - it is their job you just have to make the request.
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Old 07-08-2011, 03:09 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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Yeah, I'm going to do it. Next week, first thing. Our neighbor owns her own home, right next to us, and a duplex right across the street.

The taxes on her house are HALF of what ours are. Her duplex, which is literally twice as big as our house (3000 sq ft vs. 1500 sq ft) and is taxed at the non-homestead, investment property rate, has taxes that are identical to ours.

Something's rotten in Denmark, I tell you.
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Old 07-09-2011, 08:49 AM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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Quote:
Originally Posted by LetaB View Post
Yeah, I'm going to do it. Next week, first thing. Our neighbor owns her own home, right next to us, and a duplex right across the street.

The taxes on her house are HALF of what ours are. Her duplex, which is literally twice as big as our house (3000 sq ft vs. 1500 sq ft) and is taxed at the non-homestead, investment property rate, has taxes that are identical to ours.

Something's rotten in Denmark, I tell you.
You cannot compare homesteaded verses investment properties. First the investment properties are taxed based on the income value (rental rates) and are usually higher than others. It also depends on when she purchased the properties and how much the property cost. There are lots of differences in how properties are evaluated. You might want to look at the property appraisers website and look at how the other property is listed - such as # of bedrooms & bathrooms - it might be incorrect on hers. I know my neighbors lied when they built their home in the 50's and it was listed as a 2 bedroom when it is 3 bedroom. Well I called the property appraisers office and complained and they went out and inspected the property when she had it up for rent and increased her property taxes and hit her for past years (they went back 5 years) for lies told by her family when the house was built.

Just be prepared for the rates to increase since that is an option they have so just be ready for whatever they come up with.
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Old 08-06-2011, 09:54 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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Ensure they have the correct sq. ft. for your home also. When we were building our new home the assessor thought we had moved in (he should have checked first) and he billed us for a house that was 1,000 more sq. ft. than our actual house. If he had done his job properly he would have gone to check the paper work on the house that was on file, instead he "eyeballed" the house which looks a lot larger due to the wrap around porches and high pitched roof.
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Old 08-07-2011, 12:12 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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Ensure they have the correct sq. ft. for your home also. When we were building our new home the assessor thought we had moved in (he should have checked first) and he billed us for a house that was 1,000 more sq. ft. than our actual house. If he had done his job properly he would have gone to check the paper work on the house that was on file, instead he "eyeballed" the house which looks a lot larger due to the wrap around porches and high pitched roof.
Sounds like your appraiser is a twit. They get the size of the house and any additions and alterations done from the building department when the building permits are issued. That is part of the reason they require permits. Once a certificate of occupancy is issued the tax collector starts the tax clock. Funny part is once there is a CO you still would not be occupying the property since the flooring & paint & stuff are not done just the stuff that requires permits.
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Old 08-07-2011, 02:03 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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I know, he was just too lazy to go check it out first. They were cool though when I informed them we weren't even in the house yet and they said they'd correct the sizing thing when we received the certificate of occupancy.
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Old 08-07-2011, 02:32 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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I worked in property assessments, both commercial and residential, and have done what feels like a bazillion assessment appeal hearings on both sides of the fence.

The technicalities and procedure protocols differ from county to county, but generally speaking, residential property taxes are calculated using the equation: current or base year market value*STEB ratio/SEV value/assessed percentage*municipality/county millage (rough simplfication and dependent on your state laws).


It's actually not a complicated equation to crunch, but it does require some background knowledge...which is also not difficult to understand but can be super-confusing in the explanation. Also, the details will differ slightly county to county and state to state, although the overall theory is the same everywhere.

So, you have to know when your county says "current MV" if they actually mean current 2010/2011 MVs or if they are working from a base year. Base Year means they are valuing off the MV of a different year, usually the last year there was a county-wide assessment. This can get confusing because the county will usually just call it "current market value" or "full market value" but they really mean "full market value as of year XXXX." For instance, my county's Base Year is 2002. That means that they will take a house as it stands today 2011 and calculate what that house and its comparables would have sold for in 2002, and THAT number is what my county calls "Full Market Value"...they do not say "FMV as of 2002" because the "as of 2002" is inherently understood (like the whole ad valorum thing lawyers and assessors are so careful to say).

Then you need to know what percentage of FMV generates your assessed value, as well as if your county taxes at a percentage of the AV. It's a two-step calc usually done in one step, because typically counties assess at 100% of FMV but tax at a different percentage of the AV (usually at 100%, 80%, or 50%). So the first calc is invisible, but you sometimes run across counties that do something like AV is 80% of FMV and TV (taxable value) is 80% of AV.
And really, you only need to know this particular part if you're checking your county's calculations or if you're trying to figure out future R.E. taxes after an improvement or something. But if you are trying to figure out how much your property taxes should be, then you need to know the millages of every body that taxes real estate, which are usually county, municipality, and school district. Usually, it's the school district millage that is jacking up your R.E. taxes. And remember millages are in the thousandths. So if you're looking up your millages, you need to convert those numbers by dividing by 1000.

Anyway, the assessment appeal process is usually pretty easy and straightforward. Usually there's a season for assessment appeals, so you get the appeal form from your county office or website and fill it out and turn it in by the deadline. For general appeals, you should go within the appeal season...assessors typically assess outside the appeal season if there's new construction, an improvement was made that required permits of some sort, or if destruction occurred, like a fire or flooding.

The county will send you a notice when your hearing has been scheduled and will also include location, instructions, procedural rules in that schedule notice.

You as a homeowner appealing your home assessment can represent yourself or designate someone to represent you. It's very rare that a county will require an attorney for residential appeal hearings...my county, you can send your neighbor's second cousin's brother in law's garage mechanic to represent you so long as the person has the designation form. But generally speaking, it's an undue burden to require a lawyer instead of the homeowner for residential appeals.

You do not need to have an attorney and you shouldn't bother with one unless you're appealing a big estate AND that attorney specializes in real estate and tax law. If you want to get an attorney, don't send any old civil law joe for you, they won't know what they're doing.
You do not need a CPA and, in any case, I'm not sure how a CPA can help unless that CPA is also a real estate attorney or a general/residential certified appraiser. Most CPAs won't know how real estate ad valorum laws work because that's not in general accounting education.

You SHOULD go to the hearing. Just filing the appeal form will not get your assessment lowered (it's amazing the number of people who think just filing the form auto-generates a reassessment). You SHOULD bring some sort of evidence. Just saying "I think my house is unfairly assessed" or "my taxes are too high" or "I wouldn't be able to sell my house for that!" or "I only bought this house because to be close to school XYZ/to be in school district XYZ, this house is a piece of crap" won't wash, no matter what you may have heard from friends/family/co-workers. EVERYONE thinks their assessment is too high (until they try to sell), and you need to be able to backup your claims.

You shouldn't bring your mortgage appraisal because generally, that won't help your case AND mortgage appraisals aren't worth a huge amount.
If you can get an appraisal from a recommended, *certified* general or residential appraiser, you should. That is strong evidence and will usually override the value system used by the county assessors. Certified residential appraisers aren't that expensive, and they are required to abide USPAP. However, they have to be neutral in their appraisal, so it may not necessarily agree with your own opinions on your house's value.

If your county has on its site the list of comparable homes it used to help value your home, then don't bring that because you're telling the Board and the county what they already know (yes, it's amazing the number of people who do this). What you SHOULD do is go to real estate sites that provide MLA listings (the database R.E. agents use to list homes for sale) and find houses very similar to yours in similar condition *in your neighborhood* that sold recently..say, in the past 3-12 months. Try to find at least three sales, print those sales out, and use that as evidence. If your county operates on a base year, then if possible, try to find houses very similar to yours in similar condition *in your neighborhood* that sold in that year.
Comparables are strong evidence, but the sales need to match your home in as many ways as possible (neighborhood, condition, size, etc.).

If you also have estimates on work that have not been completed yet, like recently discovered damage that needs to be fixed, you can also bring those in as well as any pictures. That will lower the condition of your home and so the assessed value, although typically it's a temporary reduction since it's assumed you will get that damage fixed.

Generally speaking, hearing notices will come with a warning that appealing doesn't mean your value will get lowered...it might go higher or stay the same. And generally speaking, once a person starts researching, they discover their current assessment is favorable than what their research results because usually, assessed values are behind market values because many markets appreciate rather than depreciate in value (broadly speaking, obviously there are many neighborhoods that have tanked in value over the last 5-10 years).
But if it's truly the case your home value has depreciated below market value over the years despite your improvements, then you should take the time to appeal and make your case.
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Old 08-07-2011, 02:46 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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I have done this 3 times in NJ. We can only do it once a year something like in March and April. Each state is different, but here you first have to find out what other homes in the area that are like yours sold for in the last year ( its not exactly a year but complicated to explain so I will say a year). If there are some that are identical or close to yours you fill out a form and it goes to your county and your local city. The tax assessor may want to come and inspect your home. If they agree with you they can lower it. If they don't agree, you have to get all your papers together, we took pictures of the homes etc, and go to tax court and present your information to a 3 person panel ( again this is NJ).

They will NOT allow you to say, well my neighbor is assessed at this etc. Here it goes strictly by what sold. No lawyer, accountant etc needed.

Your state may be totally different.
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Old 08-07-2011, 02:54 PM

RE: Getting Property Taxes Lowered

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By the way, I don't agree that all assessments are equal. when they do them here they were done by a company and some information was wrong. I also know many got away with not showing them extra bathrooms and such and got a lower assessment by not showing all of house to assessment company. We got assessed much higher than so many houses cause our house was newer, but other houses similar to ours were assessed lower by another person who came thru, as its arbitrary in that way. I am not sure I explained that right.

A neighbors house a few blocks away was sold and totally redone, including adding bedrooms and bathrooms, new roof, new kitchen, new plumbing and on and on. They paid 1000,000 more than their assessment. There house is bigger than ours, but because its not part of the same re-assessment with the same company, there house is assessed at over 100,000 less than ours and there property is 50% bigger than ours. So its not all fair for sure.
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