By Marshall Loeb
RISMEDIA, June 3, 2008-(MCT)-While the downturn in the real estate market has likely taken its toll on your home’s value, it is unlikely that your tax assessment has gone down. During the boom, as your home gained in value, it made sense that your assessment would increase. Now that it doesn’t make sense anymore, what is a homeowner do to?
The good news is that getting your tax assessment lowered is possible. Consider these tips from Jessica Anderson, a staff writer at Kiplinger.com, for how to lower your assessment:
1. Review your home assessment for errors. Find out how your district levies property taxes–on 100% of the market value or some fraction of it–by calling the assessor’s office. Fractional assessments are less common than they used to be, but plenty of localities still use them. Especially at 70% or 80% of value, owners may not realize their property tax assessments are out of line. Next, go to the assessor’s office or website to see the property card that lists the details of your home. Check each item for mistakes, from the number of bathrooms to the number of square feet. Valuing properties is “a very inexact science” to begin with, says Richard Roll, president of the American Homeowners Association. But when paper records were transferred to computers, many errors were made–or retained. If there’s a mechanical error, the assessor may offer a property tax reassessment on the spot.
2. Compare property tax assessments for similar homes. Pull the property cards for neighbors who have similar homes in terms of age, style and features. If the assessments on similar properties are significantly lower–10% or more–you have a good case based on uniformity. Use Zillow.com or RealEstate.com to compare estimated home valuations.
3. Build a case for reassessment. The rules for property tax appeals vary from place to place, but no matter where you are you’ll need evidence. Property cards and Web-page printouts are helpful, and photos can be especially useful if you’re comparing the condition of your home with others. Consider getting an independent appraisal as well, but check the rules in your jurisdiction before laying out a couple hundred dollars or more to pay for one. Some localities require appraisals; others don’t allow them.
© 2008, MarketWatch.com Inc.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.