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Are You Paying Too Much in Property Taxes?

November 24, 2010

According to the American Homeowners Association, due to decreasing property values in many areas, it is 60% more likely that your property taxes are too high.

“The problem stems from the fact that property values have fallen unevenly across neighborhoods, towns and regions,” says Bill Plattos, Executive Vice President of First Team Real Estate. “As a result, you may be receiving an unfairly high assessment compared to other homes in your area.”

According to Plattos, there are several steps homeowner should take to investigate whether or not their property taxes can be lowered:

  • First, get your detailed property tax assessment record online or from your assessor’s office. It’s possible your entire neighborhood has been over-assessed.
  • Plattos also recommends checking with a real estate agent to get a solid understanding of what homes are currently selling for in your community. Professional agents will have the most up-to-date statistics on local market values.
  • Check the accuracy of the details about your home used in your tax assessment. Determine if your property’s size and description are accurate. Errors are commonly made in transferring data from paper to online. Make sure details like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms is correct and that any defects that could affect the value of your home – such as a leaky roof or cracked wall – are noted.
  • If errors have made your assessment higher than it should be, says Plattos, try working informally with the assessor rather than going through a formal appeal process.
  • If the correction cannot be made informally, you’ll need to make a formal appeal. There may even be a process for appealing your taxes online. “Keep in mind that there is usually a narrow window of opportunity in which to file an appeal. Some jurisdictions set aside a time every year to hear appeals, while others only consider appeals for a few months after your house has been reassessed, which is often not every year,” advises Plattos.
  • Depending on your municipality, you might also be eligible for property-tax exemptions, says Plattos, which range from senior citizen and active-duty military exemptions to ones for those who own livestock.

Throughout the entire process, Plattos encourages homeowners to maintain fastidious records. The proper documentation will be critical to supporting your case.

For more information regarding getting prepared for homeownership, please contact a local First Team Real Estate professional today or visit www.FirstTeam.com or call 888.236.1943.

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