If you have an opportunity to appeal your property tax assessment in 2012, you can bet that the tax assessors are going to be very busy. Values in most parts of the country are still well below where they were when the market peaked in 2007. Assessors may be proactive and reduce values, however, County and city budgets are tight and they may sit on their hands.
Regardless, if you have an opportunity to appeal your property tax assessment in 2012 expect a long delay before you hear anything back from the tax assessors office. Some counties will require that you send in any information you have supporting a lower value. If this is the case, you'll just have to send it in and wait for their decision. If you want to be a little more aggressive you can call the County and request a meeting with the appraiser that is handling your appeal. That way you may get a chance to talk to the appraiser before they form an opinion about the value. This may give you an opportunity to influence them.
I typically tell people that if they don't have to send in their supporting documentation, then don't. When you do the County appraiser has an opportunity to look over your data and their data and form an opinion before you ever get a chance to talk to them. I prefer to send in only a portion of my supporting information and reserve most of it for a formal hearing if I need to attend one later. Much of the time I don't send any supporting information with my appeal.
If you are appealing a new 2012 value County appraisers will probably be somewhat receptive to your appeal and be willing to consider your information. If you are in a County or State that hasn't reappraised in several years they may be less willing to consider your appeal, figuring that it should have been appealed in a previous year, if at all. If you're city or county sends property tax assessment notices annually, but doesn't change values often, they may also be less inclined to consider your appeal unless the market has changed substantially in the past year.
If you have good market data, sales data from your market area that supports a lower value you should be polite but firm when dealing with the County appraiser. Just like anyone else they want to look good and don't want to be belittled in front of their peers. Tell them that you know they're doing the best job possible given the resources available to them but that you have some information that you want them to consider. The mass appraisal process that the County uses is imperfect and that's why there is an appeal process.
If you have to go to a board of equalization or board of review hearing in order to attempt to get your property tax assessment reduced, there is no reason to be nervous. In the South Eastern states that I have been working in for the past eight years these boards are typically composed of other County taxpayers. They may or may not have prior real estate experience. In some cases they may have little knowledge of real estate valuation. Just know that they are no better than you are and remember that you are just there to present your case. Again, being polite but firm is usually the best policy.
If you would like professional assistance in the handling of your property tax appeal please contact Fair Assessments LLC
. We are an Atlanta based property tax consulting firm focusing on commercial tax appeals throughout the southeastern United States and residential property tax appeals in the metropolitan Atlanta area. Let's all save some money in 2012.