- Bargaineering - http://www.bargaineering.com/articles -

Always Contest Your Home’s Tax Assessment

If you own a home, every few years the state or county will come by and guess how much your house is worth and they will likely be very generous with that guess. While this high estimate will make you feel good about the state of your home and of the housing market, you will quickly lose that feeling once they send you the bill for your real estate taxes! This is where it pays to understand that you can contest your home’s tax assessment and that it’s a relatively painless process that could have a quick resolution if you’re lucky. I think it always pays to contest that home value assessment [3] (unless you just bought your house, then your home’s value is assessed at the sale price and there’s no way you can get that lowered) because sometimes you can get lucky and just get it readjusted downward.

My friend Tony was telling me the other day how he just got reassessed and his house value was jacked up (almost unreasonably), so he went through the process of collecting recent sales, comparables, and all the other documents you need to fight the crazy high adjustment (the same things that home appraisers look at [4]). When the time came for him to fight his case, he was all prepared and psyched up for a long drawn out battle, but his assessor just agreed that her initial guesstimate was too high and she’d lower the appraisal! All it took was one phone call!

Tony also noted that the softening housing market could be a benefit for homeowners not looking to sell because you can argue that your home is less valuable than it really is because of the housing market. If comparable sales are now lower, use those as examples of how your house lost value. If you can get over the idea that your home is less valuable (at least on paper), you can save yourself some serious cash in terms of real estate taxes.