Property taxes can be among a homeowner’s largest expenses. In 2018, property taxes on the nation’s 87 million U.S. single family homes increased 4% to $304.6 billion, reaching an average of $3,498 per home, according to property data firm ATTOM Data Solutions.
For homeowners who decide to appeal their property taxes, it’s important to be properly prepared.
Understand the Rules
Local assessors typically send property tax bills during the first few months of the year. As soon as the bill comes – or before – know the rules and process for challenging the assessment. In a perfect world, the assessed value of a particular property would match market value if that is the regulatory intent of the jurisdiction’s property assessment law. But assessors can’t look at each property individually every year as an appraiser might for mortgage financing, employee relocation or other single-property appraisal assignments.
Review the Assessment
Sometimes the assessor’s value is higher than market value, while in other cases the assessor’s value is lower than the market value. Additionally, it’s possible for assessments to be based on flawed information, such as incorrect square footage or the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, or even location.
Hire an Appraiser
Many appraisers collaborate with property tax consultants and attorneys who specialize in tax appeal matters, which could provide the best opportunity for a property owner to increase the chances of a successful tax appeal.
Qualified appraisers – such as Designated Members of the Appraisal Institute – can help homeowners who choose to appeal their property tax assessments.
Talk to the Neighbors
When evaluating a property, assessors will compare the home being inspected to others in the neighborhood. It’s important to know the tax amount paid by owners of similar properties, but make sure it’s an apples-to-apples comparison.