Property Tax Appraisals

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Appraisal Appeal: How Do I Do it?

I recently purchased a newly-built home in Tennessee. This week we received our first Appraisal from the city. I believe this is the basis for subsequent taxation of our home. We have a month to appeal their appraisal. I sure would like to appeal since their appraisal had to consist solely of a cursory, drive-by, from-the-curb-only estimation of my property's value. I'm certain such a general appraisal undoubtedly errs on the high side and to the city's tax advantage.

Can anyone offer some tips on how I can, or even if I should, appeal the appraisal to get the powers that be to revise downward their estimate of the value of my new home?
Jim M.

Appraisal Appeal: Start With Comparable Home Sales

The best thing you can do is to find 4 to 6 comparables from a real estate agent. Comps are the MLS listings on properties that have been listed in your immediate neighborhood. Make sure that they are near exact comparables to your home (ie. square footage, # and type of rooms, lot size, etc.) Then you need the sales prices for these homes, not the listing prices. If your sales price and the sales prices on the comps is way below the Tax Appraisal, you should appeal and take these comps with you. You might also take the appraisal on your home that was done as a part of the mortgage, if you have one, as well as your final sales contract showing the sales price. If, however, the sales price of your home and the comps do not vary greatly from the Tax Appraisal, no need to appeal. In most cases I have dealt with, the Tax Appraisal was far less than the actual value of the property. In the few cases where this differed, the method I described above won the appeals.

Appraisal Appeal: Get a Market Analysis

Any real estate agency will do what they call a market analysis, for free, if you merely let them know you may possibly be putting your home on the market and would like one done. I would suggest getting several different market analysis' with several different agencies as they can vary a bit. Also, although more costly you could get your home appraised. The cost usually runs around $275.00 or higher. All of these should be ample ammunition against a tax accessories "opinion" of how much your property is worth

Appraisal Appeal: Higher Appraisal Could Be Better

Should you appeal? First consider how long you will own the Tennessee home. If it may be only for a few years, you may prefer a higher appraisal. It helps set a value when selling your home later, and the increased sale price of your home will be well worth the few more dollars a year paid in property tax.

Appraisal Appeal: Our Appraisal Lowered by $10,000

APPEAL. The least they can say is NO. We appealed our appraisal and they lowered it by $10,000.

After we appealed they sent an appraiser out and he looked at the house, they did actually just drive by the first time. He did not change his appraisal, but we still continued with the appeal and the commissioners lowered it.

First of all, get a copy of the "official" appraisal. We went to the courthouse and received a copy of ours. It should list how many square feet your house is, basement size, type of shingles on your home, type of siding, if there's a garage and size, size of rooms inside house and much more information. Do your homework! Is everything on that appraisal correct? Is something on it that should not be.

Next find out what your neighbors or friends in the same area are paying. Make sure that you are comparing your house to the same size of house.

Then list the reasons why you think the appraisal should be lowered. Roof leaks, older windows, poor carpets, bad siding, neighbor's appraisal, etc.

Here we can appeal in person or mail it in, don't know how it's done in Tennessee. But whether you can mail it in or do it in person, I would do it in person, you have a better chance to "defend" your argument.
Jennifer in Nebraska

Appraisal Appeal: Do A Serious Comparison

This happened to my mother quite a few years ago and she fought back. First, she find out what value was placed on comparable homes on your street or in the surrounding neighborhood; compare those assessments to your own home's estimate. If you uncover an inequity and would like to pursue an appeal, first, objectively consider the reasons why your home would be assessed in this manner (outdoor/indoor amenities, additions, updates).

If you feel that your home is consistently similar to others in the area, but those closest to you have been assessed lower than your own home, load the film and start taking pictures of those neighboring properties; keep a tally of internal amenities that you cannot realistically photograph.

Re-evaluate objectively as you go along: Is my home any larger than these? Does it possess more luxurious amenities than these? e.g., an addition, an in-ground swimming pool, etc. If so, what are those amenities?

Again, compare what you know of the internal workings of other homes to your home; number of full baths, updates to systems, new roof, replacement windows, deck, landscaping, etc. If you still feel confident, submit the photos along with a very well written request for reassessment.
Jennifer G.

Appraisal Appeal: Your Purchase Price?

Since you recently purchased the home, I would make a guess that your city has looked mostly at the sales price of the home in re-assessing your taxes. This comes as a surprise to many new home buyers. They shop around for a home, and find one that has been owned by someone else (perhaps an elderly person) for the last thirty years. Many places are very slow to re-assess a property, and they have limited resources to do so. When the home sells, they have the public records from the sale which give them a good idea of the homes new value, and the tax bill goes up. This can be an unexpected whammy, but it happens a lot. If your new tax bill is based upon the purchase price of your home, there is probably not much you can do to appeal it; however, if the new tax bill is based upon an higher amount of money, you have the public record of what you paid for the house which should be good ammunition in getting your tax bill reduced.
Linda in Virginia

Appraisal Appeal: It Could Go Up

Jim needs to keep in mind that once he appeals the tax appraisal that it can go either way. I appealed mine once and it came out to my good fortune. Come to find out, they had appraised our neighbor's house as ours. When he started talking about brick and a full basement, I knew he had the wrong house. The appraisals that we get gives no details to the house that was appraised. But on the other side, my brother-in-law appealed his and he ended up paying alot more taxes when they did a closer inspection.

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