Rochester, NY just finished its 2008 (every 4 years) City-wide tax reassessment. "All Real Estate is Local", and that goes for Real Estate Assessments too. Your local tax assessment process may be different. Even so, there are many lessons to learn about challenging your assessment from Rochester's 2008 Re-valuation.
The Rochester Process:
- December 2007, Rochester property owners received notice of the change in their home valuations.
- Owners had until 3/18/08 to either request an informal review or file a formal challenge with Rochester's Assessor's Office.
- Formal challenges are heard by the 12 member Board of Assessment Review (made up of City residents with Real Estate experience).
- Formal challengers can negotiate privately before the matter is presented to the Board.
- 5/1/08 was the deadline for the City to finalize the assessment role.
- After the Board Decision, dissatisfied challengers can still take their case to court.
The Rochester Numbers:
- 66,700+ properties in the City of Rochester
- 11.5% increase in valuation since 4 years ago
- 41% with an increase and 59% with either a decrease or no change
- 4,200 (16%) property challenges
- 66% of property assessments successfully challenged
- 6.9% average reduction in assessment. (When I helped my future Mother-In-Law challenge her assessment, her reduction went from $118K to $110K, or 6.8%)
- 550 (13%) of challengers made formal appeals to the Assessment Board.
Percent challenges varied by area from just above 0 to just over 20%. The highest areas of challenge were in the areas where the valuations went up the most. The lowest areas for challenges were where the valuations went down.
One local condominium group challenged their reassessments. Through their Owners Associations they hired a property appraiser and filed their challenges. The group of 97 owners had their assessments reduced by 7%, from 20% to 13%.
Take Home Points:
- To challenge, or not to challenge? Is the challenge worth your time, money and aggravation? Your home's market value and its assessed value should be the same.
- Be Prepared: Know your local system and find Comparables (Zillow.com, RealEstateABC.com, a Real Estate Agent, an Appraiser)
- Document: Photos, Comparables, estimates and copies for the appraisal officer
- Pick Your Battle: 1) Home features 2) Comparables 3) Condition
- Be professional: Take 5 minutes to make your bullet points, be polite and respectful.
- Resolve Informally: Try to resolve your challenge informally
With a 2/3s success rate for property challenges, Rochester is a good place to challenge your assessment. 87% of challenges were resolved without going before the Board.
In today's often down Real Estate Market, if you purchase a home below assessment, you can immediately challenge your assessment. Your home's assessed value should equal its market value.
The 3 most important things in Real Estate may still be "Location, Location, Location". But the 3 most important things in challenging a Real Estate Assessment are: "Document, Document, Document".
Posted by: Cliff Jacobson
Adapt Or Die!
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