Real Estate

Property Assessments: What Homeowners Need to Know

Homeowners should check the rules of their particular county for the rules regarding property assessment. In general, a homeowner needs to know:

  1. How is my property assessed or reassessed? Most states and counties have rules about when property values should be reassessed. Some states are on a specific reassessment schedule. The schedule may vary from one year to six years. In states where the reassessment schedule is short, property values are adjusted often to reflect changes in the market. In states where the reassessment schedule is longer, a homeowner can request reassessment if the homeowner believes his property value has declined.
  2. How do I prove that my assessment is wrong? Proof of an incorrect assessment can include proof that the home itself declined in value. Information about sales of comparable homes, which are less than the assessed value, is also useful. Comparable sales information can be obtained free of charge from a licensed real estate broker or sales agent. A homeowner should also know the county's assessment date. For example, the assessment date may be January 1, for a tax bill issued later that year. Any decline in value prior to January 1 may reduce the home's assessed value for the coming year. The next year's tax bill will reflect any decline in value after the assessment date.
  3. What is the procedure for appealing an assessment? In some cases, a homeowner may disagree with his property's assessed value. Each county has a procedure for appealing a determination of a home's value. Sometimes the appeal is limited in time, such as 30 or 60 days from the notice of intended assessment. If a homeowner misses the deadline, he will have to wait until the next year to appeal.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • I'm trying to decide whether to use an attorney in appealing my home's property tax assessment. Can you review my case for any special or complex issues that might factor into my decision?
  • The assessment schedule in my area rotates every few years. If I appeal an assessment and win, is it possible to obtain retroactive reductions of my tax assessments and property tax refunds?
  • Does the type of error make a difference when appealing an assessment and seeking relief? For example, what if the assessor's records on the characteristics of a home, such as size and amenities, are incorrect contrasted to an error in valuation?
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