Property tax rates are established by your city or county and are generally based on a number of different factors, including the size of the property and your home’s market value. This process is called assessment, and municipalities generally review and revise assessments on a regular schedule — some reassess annually, and some let a few years go by.
In addition to establishing rules for assessment, each locality also establishes its own rules for homeowners to dispute those assessments. Though taxpayers are not able to lower their property tax rates — which are established through the political process — they are able to dispute their assessment, and a real estate attorney can help you to do that, as well as to determine whether doing so will be worth it. On a national basis, homeowners who appeal their property tax assessments have about a 40% success rate. That being said, the process is always time-consuming and can be expensive, and the time spent is not always worth the benefit it provides. Perhaps that is why only about 5% of homeowners actually go through the process.
The process of disputing your assessment starts with checking your property’s record card to see whether the details it includes are accurate. In many cases, if the square footage or some other essential piece of information is incorrect, there is a chance that your property has been overvalued, and if that is the case you should be able to make a correction without going through a formal appeal process.
If the information is accurate and you still want to dispute the assessed value, especially if the value of your property has decreased since the assessment. To demonstrate that the municipality has assessed the property at too high of a market value, you can:
- Have your property appraised professionally
- Show sales data on recently sold properties in your neighborhood. The comparable sales information is available through local realtors, as well as online. You should have at least five comparable recent sales that occurred no more than 90 days after your assessment.
- Demonstrate deterioration or damage that lowered the property’s value.
To give yourself the best chance of success with a property assessment dispute, contact us to speak to an experienced real estate attorney. We can explain the process that is in place in your area, as well as the costs involved and the rate of success among others who have attempted to have their property taxes lowered.