DIY Real Estate tax appeal - good idea?


P

passerby

I've just recently discovered a small wonder of the Internet - my county's
Board of Assessment website. Contains everything you ever wanted to know about
your house as well of that of your neighbors. Turns out, I am paying 20%-30%
more RE and school taxes than the 6 neighbors up and down the street that I
checked and I wouldn't be surprised if I'm paying by far the largest RE/school
tax in the development. And my kids are not even in the local schools anymore
...

I'd like to appeal that. I think I have a good case and I have an appraisal
from a refi I did recently to support the reduction claim. So, as far as
required paperwork, I think I have or can come up with everything I need.

Do you guys think it's a good idea to go through this without involving an
attorney? It kinda sounds like I only need an attorney for the B of A hearing.
Not sure what else he'll be able to help me with. The appeal form has a field
to indicate whether or not you want to be present at the hearings. I have no
problem going there but not sure if a knowledgeable attorney may be able to
put a word for me while there better than I can do it myself. Besides, I've no
idea what an attorney would cost me

Does anyone have a success story or a cautionary tale about RE tax appeals
done by the homeowner? Good idea, bad? Any comments or tips? Got about a month
until the August 1st filing deadline.

Thanks!

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P

Pico Rico

passerby said:
I've just recently discovered a small wonder of the Internet - my county's
Board of Assessment website. Contains everything you ever wanted to know
about
your house as well of that of your neighbors. Turns out, I am paying
20%-30%
more RE and school taxes than the 6 neighbors up and down the street that
I
checked and I wouldn't be surprised if I'm paying by far the largest
RE/school
tax in the development. And my kids are not even in the local schools
anymore
...

I'd like to appeal that. I think I have a good case and I have an
appraisal
from a refi I did recently to support the reduction claim. So, as far as
required paperwork, I think I have or can come up with everything I need.
Do you guys think it's a good idea to go through this without involving an
attorney? It kinda sounds like I only need an attorney for the B of A
hearing.
Not sure what else he'll be able to help me with. The appeal form has a
field
to indicate whether or not you want to be present at the hearings. I have
no
problem going there but not sure if a knowledgeable attorney may be able
to
put a word for me while there better than I can do it myself. Besides,
I've no
idea what an attorney would cost me

Does anyone have a success story or a cautionary tale about RE tax appeals
done by the homeowner? Good idea, bad? Any comments or tips? Got about a
month
until the August 1st filing deadline.

What state are you in? I recently did something along these lines in a
couple of counties in California, and the assessors offices were most
helpful (perhaps a bit more so since this involved a death). In my
experience the assessors offices have pretty good appraisers, so you
shouldn't have to fight tooth and nail.
 
P

passerby

responding to
http://www.beansmart.com/financial/diy-real-estate-tax-appeal-good-idea-18093-.htm
PicoRico wrote:

What state are you in? I recently did something along these lines in a
couple of counties in California, and the assessors offices were most
helpful (perhaps a bit more so since this involved a death). In my
experience the assessors offices have pretty good appraisers, so you
shouldn't have to fight tooth and nail.
Thanks, PicoRico. I'm in PA. Best I can tell about the procedure is that not
much, if any, interaction with the Board of Assessment will be needed except
for the actual hearing since you mail the stuff in. You can actually tell them
you won't be there for the hearing either and my guess is that the proceedings
will happen without you anyhow. Whether or not the result gotten in your
absence will be satisfactory to you is a different matter of course.

So, I basically have three courses of action here:

* go to the hearing (and I'm not sure what I will have to do there)
* forgo the right to be at the hearing and hope the result is decided on the
basis of the paperwork anyhow
* hire an attorney that will be there at the hearing and perhaps can influence
the outcome in some way?

Which is the best?

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P

Pico Rico

passerby said:
responding to
http://www.beansmart.com/financial/diy-real-estate-tax-appeal-good-idea-18093-.htm


Thanks, PicoRico. I'm in PA. Best I can tell about the procedure is that
not
much, if any, interaction with the Board of Assessment will be needed
except
for the actual hearing since you mail the stuff in. You can actually tell
them
you won't be there for the hearing either and my guess is that the
proceedings
will happen without you anyhow. Whether or not the result gotten in your
absence will be satisfactory to you is a different matter of course.

So, I basically have three courses of action here:
* go to the hearing (and I'm not sure what I will have to do there) *
forgo the right to be at the hearing and hope the result is decided on the
basis of the paperwork anyhow
* hire an attorney that will be there at the hearing and perhaps can
influence
the outcome in some way?

Which is the best?
Well, the best is to hear from some other posters with PA experience.

But, I would do choice #1, assuming you are close to the hearing location.
Are you sure there is a hearing, at least in the first instance? Here you
submit your request, and if you don't like the result you can "appeal",
which I have not gone through, but is likely more formal and might involve
an actual hearing.

You should ask a local assessors office how this all works - you can ask in
a different county for education purposes so maybe you don't tip your hand
with the real county.

You need to get your data ready up front - you might be best to have an
actual appraisal, or if not just get data for nearby and comparable houses.
The benefit of an appraisal is that appraisers are trained in making
"adjustments" from one property to the next - for example, yours is in a
better location than comparable A, so the value of your house needs to be
adjusted upwards, but your house is a bit dated, so it needs a downward
adjustment to account for that. Or, you can get the data, make these points
in your cover letter, and let the appraiser in the assessors office do his
thing.

When you consider all of this, particularly the possibility of hiring an
attorney, you need to think about cost and benefit. How much will you
likely save in property taxes each year, and what is that savings worth in
the way of expenses to accomplish it? and, of course, throw in a risk
factor - what are the odds of saving $x per year, and the odds of saving
$1.25x per year? Ah, some game theory to consider!
 

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