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Anyone appealed their property assessment?

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Anyone appealed their property assessment?

Postby Mean Scenester » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:53 pm

In light of the Incredible Shrinking Household Income (thanks, Governor Dumbfuck!) I'm looking at all sorts of ways to decrease expenditures. Of course, a big one is property tax.

I believe the current fair market value the city has set for my house is unrealistic, to say the least. Curious if anyone has ever gone through an assessment appeal, what your impression of the process was and (of course) the outcome.

I've taken a cursory look at the the procedure on the city's website, which makes it sound like a significant pain in the ass (which I guess would be in the city's best interest). Wondering if it would be worth the effort of if I'd just be taking on a big headache for relatively little gain.

Any info would be greatly appreciated. Next topic: Is anyone going back to whale oil lamps to save on electricity bills?




(No, really, I'm serious about the assessment thing.)
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Re: Anyone appealed their property assessment?

Postby iwiw99 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:58 pm

I did last year.

The City raised my assessment 10% last year.

I had just had an appraisal done for a refinance which came in about 5% less than the old assessment which was what I had paid for the place.

Made an appointment, (make sure you follow their calendar of deadlines), and maybe 45 days later he called for an appointment. Gave him the new appraisal, pointed out the other issues ie: outhouse, Betamax..... and he came back with what I wanted. A 5% reduction in the old assessment.

I did well but was well armed with the fresh bank appraisal.

He was friendly, easy to get along with and open minded. Unlike the DOR for instance.

Good luck.
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Re: Anyone appealed their property assessment?

Postby fisticuffs » Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:24 pm

That's the way to go. An appraiser is going to give a much more accurate number. The assessments are done externally only and don't figure in any upgrades like windows, electrical, appliances etc. Pay for the home inspection before you call the city. Ours is assessed much higher than what we paid for it just last year. I'm in no rush to fix it though as that's the only equity we've got.
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Re: Anyone appealed their property assessment?

Postby Ducatista » Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:15 pm

iwiw99 wrote:I did well but was well armed with the fresh bank appraisal.

That, and you played the Betamax card.

My apartment was robbed when I lived on the ground floor of 1 E Gilman back in the late 80s. The thieves didn't take much, just my on-its-last-legs 13" color TV and my Beta VCR, already a relic. MAN they must've been pissed when they examined their haul. Picturing that moment of realization almost made up for the break-in. Suckas.
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Re: Anyone appealed their property assessment?

Postby jman111 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:23 pm

Ducatista wrote:That, and you played the Betamax card.

My apartment was robbed when I lived on the ground floor of 1 E Gilman back in the late 80s. The thieves didn't take much, just my on-its-last-legs 13" color TV and my Beta VCR, already a relic. MAN they must've been pissed when they examined their haul. Picturing that moment of realization almost made up for the break-in. Suckas.

/sorry, threadjack extension/

I had a car broken into years ago. They smashed the back door window, climbed over the front seat (I saw the footprints) and ripped the stereo out. I had paid about 50 bucks for it.
What they missed was the $200 pool cue, a leather jacket, a portable stereo, about 50 CDs (all in the back seat) and the 30 or so bucks in cash in the glove box.
Despite the gaping hole in my dash, I didn't feel nearly as bad as I could have.
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Re: Anyone appealed their property assessment?

Postby snoqueen » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:15 pm

Hate to go back to the original question, but yes, I've successfully appealed an assessment.

Some suggestions:

--follow their schedule, as mentioned. If you're late you have to wait until next year.

--be nice.

--do some homework and collect information so you can give the grounds on which you think the assessment is out of proportion. Here are some ideas but there are plenty more.

-- --incorrect data in the assessor's database (that's how I won my appeal, and it does happen). Most but not all the data is on line. You can see the whole page of data for your house if you go to the city county building.

-- --your neighbors have made a lot of improvements you did not make, but everyone's assessment went up the same percent. Get this info by talking to neighbors and looking around as well as by looking at the city county building to see who pulled building permits for different upgrades.

-- --comparable recent sales in your area show valuations lower than your house's assessment. Get this info from the city assessor's web page, and look at realtors' listings to find houses that have not sold for many months because the asking price is too high.

-- --an expensive defect in your house (such as a very wet basement) would make it harder to sell than apparently comparable houses nearby. Take pictures to include with your appeal, or get an independent contractor's estimate.

-- --some neighborhood eyesore, nuisance, or threat has gotten worse since your last assessment. An example would be much greater traffic in front of your home due to a big box store that popped up across the street. Take pictures, get traffic data from the city, and join with neighbors in making a group appeal.


Incidentally, not fixing an out-of-line assessment hurts you. It won't change your equity at all, but it will make your taxes higher not only this year but in years to come. Every time they reassess, they'll multiply your out-of-line assessment by the same multiplier they use for the rest of your neighborhood, and the overage will continue for years to come. In the same way, lowering your assessment now lowers it for the future. If the city assessor doesn't agree, they won't hand you a freebie -- this is all fair play but it's up to you to act on your own behalf.
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Re: Anyone appealed their property assessment?

Postby Galoot » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:30 pm

Yes, I challenged mine a few years ago, when it went up a ridiculous amount, and duplexes in the Allied Drive area just weren't selling for nearly that amount, unless they were much closer to Seminole Highway.

I seem to remember that I claimed that my place hadn't gone up at all, and we split the difference, cutting the increase in half.
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Re: Anyone appealed their property assessment?

Postby gargantua » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:33 pm

Good advice above but take into account how long you plan to live there. Guy I knew battled for lower assessments......and then wished he hadn't when he wanted to sell the place.
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Re: Anyone appealed their property assessment?

Postby narcoleptish » Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:33 pm

My experience doesn't relate to Scenester's situation but maybe someone can benefit. I bought a rundown house for a lot less than assessment and tried to appeal to get it changed to the purchase price. After going through the meeting and getting an appointment with the assessor, I thought to go back and ask the assessor a question. They new I had bought it as a fixer-upper. So if they lowered it now to my purchase price, would they want to come back in a year and re-assess after I had done a bunch of work to it. The answer was "most likely" and even if it was just an outside assessment I didn't want to take a chance. My assessment was already very reasonable and chances are it would have gone up well beyond that in a year. I sheepishly asked the counter person if I could just cancel everything and forget it. That was over 3 years ago and it's still the same so far.
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Re: Anyone appealed their property assessment?

Postby fennel » Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:47 pm

That's interesting. When I bought mine for 13% under assessement (just as the market was beginning to nosedive), I had the assessor came out and have a look to confirm that the house hadn't been updated since the Nixon era. The City then dropped the assessment to slighly below the official sales price. The lower tax rate was nice; the relative inability to borrow against the value of the house, not so much.
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Re: Anyone appealed their property assessment?

Postby snoqueen » Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:59 pm

I have experience with the fixer-upper-assessment thing too. My old house was pretty much a fixer-upper the whole time I lived in it. I was just taking my time doing the fixing, and when I put it up for sale I finished it. I took out permits for the things I was doing at different times, like wiring and the kitchen and the bathrooms and other things you do to an old house.

On one of the bathrooms, I never finished part of one wall and a door for years and years. I know this sounds strange, but it didn't bother me one bit and I was the only person living there. The inspector came to finalize that part of the inspection and I said I just wasn't going to get around to it for a while, and he said that was OK but he couldn't sign off on it, so we let it be.

And that perfectly legitimate unfinished bit of work and incomplete permit kept my assessment down for years. I didn't do it on purpose, I did it because I was busy and didn't care, but the result was just fine with me.
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Re: Anyone appealed their property assessment?

Postby fennel » Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:30 pm

I would add that, if you're thinking about buying a place, make a point of stopping in to talk to the assessor for that area. He or she will have lots of particular knowlege of the neigborhood, information that you're not otherwise likely to find. And while you're there, ask to see any records, drawings, etc. that they have for the property in question.
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