Home ownership has its rewards, but paying the annual property tax bill isn’t one of them. If you feel like your assessment doesn’t add up, you can challenge it, potentially saving yourself money. Here’s what you need to know if you want to contest your assessment.
Take A Closer Look
First off, carefully read the assessment and make sure that the home described actually matches your home. It seems obvious, but it’s a step many people overlook. Is the square footage correct? Are you being dinged for a two-car garage when you only have one?
Do Your Homework
The next step is to figure out whether your assessed value actually matches up with the market value of your home. Housing prices have taken a hit in recent years, so if your assessor is using out-of-date data, you might be paying taxes based on the market’s peak, rather than the most current prices. Assessed values are public information, so you can start digging through the data at your assessor’s office to see what your neighbors are paying. You can also take to the Internet to check out the sale prices of similar homes on the market.
Get It Done in Time
In many areas, once you get your new assessment, the clock starts ticking. Deadlines vary by region, but you might have as little as a month to indicate that you want to lodge a challenge. So make sure to get on top of things right away if you want have any hope of lowering your tax bill. If you have missed your deadline, get a jump on next year’s property taxes by gathering the info you’ll need to make your case.
Making Your Case
While you can hire a real estate attorney to help you out with the appeals process, you’re probably better off taking a DIY approach since you might only end up saving a few hundred dollars a year. The appeals process varies by region, so head to your assessor’s website to see what sort of documents and evidence you’ll need to make your challenge.