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July 18th, 2009

A Positive Aspect of Falling Home Prices?



The plight in which falling home prices has had on the housing market and the economy as a whole has been well documented in this blog. However, some homeowners are using the misfortune of lower home values in their favor. All across the country homeowners are appealing their property tax assessments in an attempt to save some money:

Many homes nationwide were last appraised prior to the housing crash and are valued for tax purposes at levels higher than today’s home prices. “If you have a three-year period between assessments and the last one was in 2007, your assessment is still at the top of the market,” says Jacqueline Byers, director of research for the National Association of Counties in Washington, D.C.

There are several ways to appeal your tax assessment. While some methods can be expensive, others you can do mainly by yourself and online. EasyTaxFix.com and LowerMyAssessment.com are two websites you can use:

For a fee of $50 to $100, users can obtain forms with data already filled in and instructions on how to appeal, and a list of recent sales of comparable properties.

Such online services may be able to give you a convenient ballpark estimate of whether your home is overassessed. Tax officials say these sites’ results can be supplemented with information from other sources, such as local real-estate agents.

If you plan on appealing your tax assessment, you’ll need to do your research so you’re prepared. First, examine your property’s records for inaccuracies and errors. For example, your records may indicate that your property contains a three-car garage when it only has a two. Next, compare your property’s value with other ones of similar size. Similar properties in your neighborhood may have sold for far less than what your current property is valued at:

Winning an appeal mainly requires producing enough evidence to convince the tax assessor or an appeals board that your property assessment is based on inaccurate or outdated information, or is unfairly high compared to similar properties. In some areas, homeowners have as little as two weeks to file a notice of appeal after receiving their tax bill, but 30 to 60 days is more common. That means homeowners have to be ready to scramble when the tax bill comes.

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2 Responses to “A Positive Aspect of Falling Home Prices?”

  1. Rebecca Wilder Says: July 18th, 2009 at 11:02 am

    HI Tim,

    I don’t see this as positive at all. The government is lagged in re-assessing property value. The fact that homeowners are paying over market in taxes on their property (which they own, by the way) is just wrong. However, one could argue that these same homeowners were paying below market while home values were surging. The problem is: government property assessment never keeps up with the market.


  2. Tim Manni Says: July 18th, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Hey Rebecca,

    How is saving money not positive? I didn’t want readers to interpret the title as I thought low prices are a good, it’s just that if you can recoup some funds, that’s always a positive. I agree with your other points however. Assessments don’t keep up with the current market, agreed. What about the idea: the real price is whatever people are willing to pay?

    Great hearing from you,

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HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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