Increased property taxes

KathsgrdnNovember 15, 2012

Again this year. My escrow is now higher and I owe it over $650! I have to pay this by January 1st. Has anyone ever had their home reassessed and therefore their taxes reduced? I'm wondering if this is worth attempting. I know a couple of years ago I was looking at comps in my neighborhood provided by a local real estate person. According to her it would be almost impossible to sell my home for what it is currently appraised at.

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I think that's the way it is everywhere. I have no experience on getting your taxes lowered so I'll be curious to hear from the others. Just curious, what state do you live in?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 5:45PM
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    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 5:51PM
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We appealed our property tax increase several years ago. Your tax bill paperwork should include instructions how to appeal property tax increases, as well as deadlines because the appeal has to be filed by a certain date.

Even though you can appeal in writing, it's usually best to take the appeal to the tax assessor's office in person and talk to them. Some places make appointments, others operate on a walk-in basis. Prior to the appointment, I did a real estate search and printout of comparable home prices in our neighborhood to show that our appraisal far exceeded current market value

In our case, it turned out the original appraisal was too high and we'd been paying too much in taxes ever since we bought the house. They lowered the appraisal quite a bit, but they said they couldn't reimburse us for the several years we overpaid. So it would probably be in your best interest to appeal as soon as possible.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 6:03PM
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Was it just yours raised or did they reappraise the entire area. Did you do anything extra--even like painting ? Yes, I would take the bill to the tax office and ask them to explain the raise if none of the above happened.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 6:07PM
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When I first moved in I had them come out and they dropped the appraisal. The reason was the previous owners didn't let them inspect the place so they just up the valuation assuming you've made improvements and are hiding them. Have they done an inspection?

Otherwise, appealing an appraisal is generally not worth the effort if you expect to accomplish something. They go by the perceived values, not actual values. But if you're up for it, it doesn't hurt too much to try in many cases. Here, though, if you challenge the City, they are vengeful. When you take them on, you suddenly get spot inspections for mowing, shoveling, size of address numbers, litter on your lawn, etc.

Keep in mind if your valuation goes up your homeowners insurance will go up too. They base the premium on the valuation.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 6:17PM
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Are there comps for your home that have lower assessments? Is there a filing date deadline for protests?

Before we built our current home we lived for 30+ years in a house that had been built in the 1950's as part of a 50-home subdivision. There had been five original models. Happily for us, one of the ranch plans like ours was owned by a clout-heavy former Chicagoan. He had an extremely low assessment.

Our suburb was assessed by the county every third year. I always appealed our assessment, based on our neighbor's assessment. Every year I would get a miniscule 'hush-up' reduction at the first go-round, then get a big reduction at the final hearing before the County Board of Appeals.

Assessments are public information. Sometimes today this is available online. You can gather your own data and file yourself. I would not contract with anyone who claims he can get you a lower assessment unless he guarantees how MUCH lower.

Don't worry that your appeal could result in a *higher* assessment for you or for your comparison property. They can only *lower* it or leave it as it stands. (At least that's the law here.)

The assessments in our little subdivision were all over the place. I decided the assessor used a 'dartboard' method.

Go for it! You have only your time to lose.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 6:17PM
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I forgot to say that you should inspect the assessment on your property to be sure it is accurate. Last year I discovered that our current house had been assessed as having a *basement* under our garage! Duh. No. They've corrected that now.

As for comps, current *asking prices* for comparable properties are not as favorable for you as *sold prices*.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 6:24PM
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Definitely appeal the assessment if you were reassessed.

We've appealed every reassessment, and everytime got our taxes lowered. As a result, even though our home was one of the nicer ones in the neighborhood, when we listed it and started comparing stats with others on the market--our taxes were lower by a LOT. And yet, our house sold for over $50,000 more than any had in about a year.

When you go in to talk to the assessers--I'd highly recommend going very calmly--they appreciate that because most come in furious and yelling at them. Go with REASONS why your house isn't worth what it was assessed at--take selling prices of comps in the neighborhood, or things about your house that don't measure up (no AC, you're the only house on the block without a garage, one or old bathroom, etc.) Be creative, give factual reasons why your house is less valuable than those around it.

However, if you haven't been reassessed, if this is merely a tax rate increase, there may not be a lot you can do about it right now. But even so, look into it, and see. You can also ask if there are any programs to help those unable to pay their taxes--there may be some help for you. For example, in our state, your taxes are frozen once you reach age 65, (I think it's 65).

Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 7:09PM
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It's a tax hike...not a reassessment. It's appraised at $139,000 but comparable homes are selling for around $90,000-$120,000. That's what I remember from the comps the real estate broker told me. I was thinking of selling my house and buying a little bigger one.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 9:23PM
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Grin and bear it...very seldom does anybody win .Property values are down here but the tax assesments keeps going up, Never expect that town government will live within its'means, sad to say.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 7:02AM
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We have GIANT property taxes now....even though the value of the property keeps dropping into the toilet.

Thank you, irresponsible and out of touch government.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 8:44AM
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By all means appeal it. You can go to your counties tax assessors website and read up on what is acceptable documentation. Northern Illinois where I work they have seen property values decrease 20-40%. Here if they bring in comps supplied by realtor they can bring them into the office and have their taxes adjusted. Some counties do require a full blown appraisal but check yours to see and then you'll be able to make that decision.
Is your escrow short, have they paid the taxes leaving you in the red or is your mortgage company assuming an amount that will need to be paid.
Most escrow analysis are done by mortgage companies in January, perhaps there is still an opportunity to change this.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 9:07AM
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Ah, your tax rate has increased.

Many municipalities are trying to make up budget shortfalls where assessments have been dragged down by a weak market. Cities must continue to provide essential services on less income in the wake of foreclosures and bankruptcies.

The market is turning around, but it takes time to recover from the unregulated lending bubble.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 9:29AM
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ours have gone down but so have property values...they might raise since at the end of the street, a new (gag) dollar store is being built...and the east indian temple is being re-built...havn't figured that out as to why..tore down the sanctury...only about 15 years old...left what appears to be "common" gathering room...we have such a mixed bag of of homes, too...duplex condos next door, single family homes of various sizes...

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 10:15AM
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it certainly does not hurt to try and get a review, especially if vales are lower than what your assessment has. until a couple of yrs ago alot of FL homeowners were getting reassessments but then our taxes were significantly cut. i used to pay 4X what I do now and for a few yrs in a row i had to pay the shortages, couple times it was thousands of $$. then they ended up w several thousand $$ extra and of course you can not access that $$ and you pay taxes on it. since taxes came down, my overages were rolled over and my payment went down. i refinanced in Jan just as values have been starting to trend back up, now my payment is 1/2 of what it was. we just voted in a mileage rate increase FINALLY so taxes go up a tiny bit. the county lost 1.5% in sales taxes in 2011 + loss of property taxes and every semester they close 5 more schools and lay off thousands more teachers. they desperately need the increase, we have A+ schools here and my property someday selling well depends on my cities school staying open which it may not (chopping block for 1 yr now). ~ liz

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 8:59PM
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If you can't afford the $650 right now, call the county/town and ask if you can make a couple of payments (pay half each time), since it's a hardship for you. I've done that and the tax dept people are very understanding.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 1:11PM
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If you have some connections with your neighbours, talk to some of them about their buildings and their assessments and whether they've talked to the assessor's office or appealed, or have others that they've known of and what results they've had.

As some have said, marshall your facts and deal politely and with courtesy, making your points: it's much less difficult if you don't make enemies in the assessor's office.

In Ontario there's a centralized evaluation system.

Never having owned property, I have no direct info to offer.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 3:48PM
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Jannie, the town was paid. I owe Bank of America this money.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 9:12PM
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I just had this conversation with a really good real estate friend of mine. In my case my property taxes went down. This is the first full year I've been able to claim homestead exemption.

It sounds to me that your escrow has been reevaluated. If the property taxes are set in stone there's really not much you can do. You can, however see if you have paid at least 20% in equity into your home and reduce your total payment by eliminating PMI. Every lender is different. Some might require an appraisal while some only need what's called a BPO or broker's price opinion. Others might base it on the comps in the area.

Good luck in trying to lower your mortgage payment!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 10:13PM
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We appealed our assessment 2 months ago and just received the outcome letter yesterday. Assessed value is dropping by about 10%. This is the second time in the last 3 yrs that we have appealed. Both times had the same result.

Our accountant told us he appeals his property taxes every year. We may be doing the same.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 10:35AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

My escrow is now higher and I owe it over $650!
Might part of that be from Homeowners insurance rising, or is that also in the escrow account? I know my Homeowners goes up yearly.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 11:19AM
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