Here’s a dilemma many of us in Union County are facing – our homes aren’t worth what they were worth when we bought them, and yet we’re still paying taxes based upon what our home used to be worth. If you think you’re being taxed unfairly, here’s how to appeal your assessment.
Property taxes can’t be appealed but your property’s assessment may be if you can prove that your assessed value is unreasonable compared to the home’s market value.
Here are the steps to appeal your tax assessment:
1. Inquire into your district’s average ratio for this year. Different municipalities use different formulas to calculate property taxes but all formulas are based upon assessed value. Some jurisdictions use a home’s actual market value, while others use a percentage of a property’s worth.
2. File on or before April 1st (May 1st if a municipal-wide reassessment has just been implemented).
3. Hire your expert witnesses – anyone licensed as a real estate appraiser can be an expert witness and can prepare an appraisal report. This expert witness must appear at your hearing to testify and be cross examined.
4. Provide multiple copies of the appraisal report – one for the tax assessor and one for each County Tax Board member. This must be done at least seven days before the scheduled hearing. You may also provide credible evidence such as recent comparable sales of other properties of a similar type in your neighborhood. Sales ratio forms, called SR-1A’s, (available at the County Tax Board) and deeds (available at the County Clerk’s office) are public records and can be used to identify comparable sales and their significant characteristics. Your local Realtor ® can help you with this. Commercial property owners must also supply an income statement.
4. Public Hearing is conducted before the County Tax Board within 3 months of the filing deadline. The County Tax Board is made up of members appointed by the Governor. Homeowners and sole proprietorships can represent themselves but larger businesses must be represented by an attorney.
5. The Tax Board must determine all appeals within 3 months of the last day for filing appeals, although the Director of the Taxation Division may grant an extension.
6. You can appeal the judgment within 45 days.
If you’re like me, your home is your largest investment, and I try to keep aware of how much that investment is worth. There are, essentially, six primary factors that determine the value of a home:
1. Location - Because of factors out of your control, some towns and neighborhoods are more desirable to buyers than others.
2. Size - Bigger houses sell for more money than smaller houses.
3. Housing market - How does the supply of homes on the market compare with the number of ready, willing, and able buyers? Throughout most of the country, we’re looking at a strong buyers’ market – there are many more buyers than there are sellers, and, therefore, prices are driven down by the principles of supply and demand.
4. Amenities - Does the house have a pool? A fourth bedroom? Marble tile? Hardwood floors? A fireplace? These things typically add to the value for a buyer. Some of the amenities that might increase the sale price might be worth adding to your home in advance of selling it. If you can afford to update your home before you sell it, it will bring in a better price.
5. Condition - A home that has been well cared for is more attractive to buyers. It is nearly always beneficial to the seller to do routine updates and maintenance on the home before attempting to sell it. Chipped paint, rusty or worn appliances, stained carpet and the like are all going to make your home’s value and selling price decrease.
6. Marketing - The wider your home is marketed, the more potential buyers
Unfortunately, the value of your home is NOT affected by:will be aware of it, increasing demand. The average home buyer searches for 12 weeks and sees, on the average, 15 homes before making a purchase. (Source: http://www.realtor.org/library/library/fg006
)1. How much you paid for it.2. The value of the home you’re moving to.
3. How much money you’ve invested in the home.
An appraiser can be hired to prepare an appraisal which can give you a pretty good idea of fair market value. A REALTOR ® can provide you with a free (free in cost and free in obligation) Comparative Market Analysis which will compare properties similar to yours that have been listed and sold recently.
You can also do a similar process by yourself relatively easily. Recent home sales are part of many towns’ local newspapers. Search for homes like yours in size, style, location and conditions and see what other similar homes have recently sold for. You may be able to ask a little more if your home is newly remodeled or upgraded, and you may have to ask a little less if your home is outdated.
This post is part of an eBook on selling your home that can be obtained for free by emailing TeamZuhl@gmail.com.