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Real Estate Taxes: Finding Assessment Loopholes

Aug 16, 2008
In certain years a blanket assessment is enacted resulting in a re-assessment of property taxes. Often inaccurate "quick" values are concocted. Many times adjustment is enacted using a multiplier factor to adjust these values. Little time is allocated to this rendering of property value.

Municipalities reappraise the homes within their borders by hiring blanket appraisal companies. This is done in a bidding process and the low bid wins. If the bid allocation was only $38 per home and the blanket appraiser needed to make a profit, how much time can actually be spent per home? The people the appraiser hires are time-pressed to make their observations.

What we are saying is that errors abound in the blanket real estate tax appraisal of properties. If the blanket appraisal company or town uses multipliers, there is no way that you can take those bad initial assessment numbers and turn them into accurate numbers by multiplying them by another figure.

An inexpensive fix for the town could come about if building inspectors and the tax department communicated closely by working together. If the building inspector passed on information to the assessor, there would be no need for blanket re-assessments. New homes sold need only be equalized with the previous blanket assessment. If an addition or home improvement took place, the added value could be passed on to the tax assessor. If the building department and tax department worked efficiently, there would be no need for blanket reassessments.

A tax assessor has little time to appraise a home and usually do not engage in that activity. Tax assessors are often politically appointed and are not trained and experienced real estate appraisers. Their usual method of deriving value is based on a cost basis instead of a market value approach. The market value approach is based on what an informed buyer would pay for the home, not what it cost to build it.

In a property tax appeal, only the market appraisal counts. That means that your home stacks up to the current selling price of your comparable homes and that becomes the only solid evidence of value.

A town expends a tremendous amount of money in the mass appraisal of homes. That cost is passed on directly in the local property tax causing extra tax rate increases. Much valuable time, effort and money is misspent by relying on blanket reassessment by communities. They may catch the occasional shed or deck built without a permit, but that hardly demands a reappraisal.

This spells out gigantic loopholes for homeowners. Doing a simple analysis of your home's market value and seeing how it lines up with the appraised value can save thousands of dollars wasted on taxes.
About the Author
By you employing the right comparables and adjustment figures, you mark the real areas for real estate tax appeal that maximize your property tax reduction
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