A Positive Aspect of Falling Home Prices?by Tim Manni
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evidence to convince the tax assessor or an appeals board that your property assessment is based on inaccurate or outdated information, or is unfairly high compared to similar properties.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.