It may differ by county, but you more than likely have received your county property tax appraisal in the mail recently. The county assesses homes each year to determine property tax liability. County appraisers apply mass appraisal methods and techniques based upon individual characteristics that affect the market value of your home.
As a homeowner you need to review this appraisal every year and make sure it’s in-line with what you think your home could sell for on the market. You have a right to protest the appraisal if it’s completely out of the ballpark and specifically, on the high side. If you don’t do anything you could end up paying more property taxes than you should, so it’s a no-brainer to keep a close eye on your appraisal each year.
For example, one year I noticed our property taxes increased dramatically. After comparing my home to other similar homes appraisals I noticed something had to be wrong. After checking closer, I realized our square footage was incorrectly documented. Another appraisal by the county proved my finding was correct.
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How Do You Appeal Your Tax Appraisal?
The first step is to look for the estimate in the mail. We typically receive our estimate the first part of May each year. Once you receive it you need to determine if your taxes have increased or decreased. I don’t think I’ve ever seen ours stay the same. For example, most homes aren’t worth as much today given the changes in the economy, so our home’s appraisal and tax liability actually decreased this year (good and bad).
If you find your tax liability has increased you need to understand the reasons why. Perhaps the housing market is improving in your area. This may make sense as long as you’re in – line with other homes with similar characteristics (square footage, property size, etc.) or with what you think you can sell your home for on the market.
Perform some investigation if you don’t like your appraisal. If you know a realtor they may be willing to provide you some comparisons to understand what other homes are selling for in your area. You can also look at the county’s website to see what other homes in your neighborhood are appraised for based on their square footage. This is public information, so I think its okay to look as see if someone with the same size of home is being appraised for near the same amount. Finally, you can also consider hiring an appraiser yourself, but I would try these other approaches first to save the money.
So, if your house has truly been over appraised in your opinion and based on your research, you should immediately file a protest with your county (procedures may vary by county). For our county we can schedule an informal review. Based on the informal review they will either change the appraisal or do nothing.
Assuming you want to protest, the county will either set a date in which you can go before the review board with your proof/findings.
How Do You Prepare For Your Property Appraisal Review?
Consider the following tips when presenting your case:
- Make sure you have all of your comparisons neatly organized, are prepared and on-time.
- You should stick to the facts. Present your findings and research and don’t resort to emotional pleas. They don’t work.
- Finally, review the procedures for your county and make sure you’re comfortable with the format before getting started. It’s perfectly okay to contact your county appraisal district and ask questions in order to be more prepared.
Close The Loop
If a favorable decision is made to lower your appraisal (assuming it was too high) based on your review, you should make certain all the records reflect the change. Find out when you can expect to see the change online as well as make sure you know when you can expect to receive proof in the mail. Don’t assume silence is good. Follow up if you don’t see the change reflected by the date you’re given and stay on top of managing this important piece of your finances.
Each county has additional steps if you don’t receive the decision you were hoping for. Next steps may result in filing an appeal with the state, or going to arbitration.
Check out what Pete did to appeal his property tax appraisal: Challenging Your Property Taxes
Do you have any experience with protesting your county property tax appraisal? How did it turn out? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!