Are You Paying Too Much in Property Taxes?

A Little Research into Public Documents Could Help You To LOWER YOUR PROPERTY TAXES.

As a real estate agent, I always check our county’s Property Appraiser website to gather information about a house.   I can find out:

 - Legal Description

- Name of the Deed Holder

- Purchase History

- Permits Pulled on the Property

- General Outline of the Lot and House

- Square Footage of the House

- Whether or not the House is in a Flood Zone

- What the Taxes are

- When and If the Taxes have been Paid

Anyone can access this information.  Search:  “(Your County) Property Appraiser” to find the website, and follow the instructions for searching by Address or Owner’s Name.

While the information is correct most of the time, I have found errors. 

Last year a client wanted to buy a house that had a second floor loft overlooking the living room.   However, the property appraiser’s website showed a full second floor extending over the living room, overstating the usable living area by almost 200 square feet.  I was able to negotiate a lower price for the property, demonstrating that the house was actually comparable to smaller, less expensive houses.  My client bought the house, and quickly had the error corrected with the Property Appraiser.

By demonstrating the lower square footage of heated and air-conditioned space, the new owner is now paying lower taxes.

Are there costly inaccuracies on your property record? 

Have recent sales in your neighborhood lowered the value of your property?

What can you do about it?

Here is a Step-by-Step guide adapted from the Wall Street Journal Article, “How to Lower Your Property Taxes” published August 20, 2011

  1. Check the Deadline for Filing a Property Assessment Appeal in your city or county.
  2. Look up your home value at your local Property Assessor’s website.
  3. Make sure the Assessor has accurately described your property.
  4. Compare the assessed value of homes in your neighborhood that are similar to your property.
  5. Check recent sales prices of comparable homes.
  6. If anything is disputable, you’ll need to call the Assessor’s office to schedule an informal appeal meeting
  7. Bring photos or documents that back up claims of mistakes, differences in valuations or recent sales prices.

You can find out the assessed value of neighborhood homes as well as the recent sales prices on the Property Appraiser’s website.  Do not use data from Zillow, Inc or other online real-estate sites since their figures are not official and are unlikely to be accepted as evidence.

You may have a convincing enough case to have it resolved in your first, informal meeting.  If not, you will need to prepare for a more formal presentation to a local board and may need to hire a licensed appraiser and Property Tax lawyer.

I may not be able to “Fight City Hall,” but I can help you to buy or sell a home for the best possible price. Give me a call to set up an appointment:  850-567-9181

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