Monday, April 5, 2010

Myths the Assessors Tell You.

Myths the Assessors Tell You.

I hold a mortgage on a little house that is assessed nearly double what it
was purchased for.

The assessor comes out, notes some issues with the property condition, and
offers a 7% reduction. I instructed John, the property owner to call him
back and say this: "I don't have enough data to evaluate if your offer is
fair. Can you please send me the comparable sales that support you value?".

John had me laughing out loud when he told me the assessor's response: "I
don't have any comparable sales. I just made some adjustments regarding the
property condition."

I imagine many taxpayers are happy for any reduction, accept this and go
away. It must work at least part of the time that the assessor does it --
and he's very pleasant.

Last week I met with a builder developer who has hundreds of lots. He met
with the assessor and was told "we can't change your values without changing
everyone's in the development and its a really really big development". Not
true. And how did the assessor set their values? She looked on the builder's
website and used the list prices for the lots!

Assessors have a tough job, especially now. They do what they can with the
data they have and the limited time they can devote to each parcel. They
make mistakes. We all do.

The Property Tax Appeal process is there is correct those mistakes. It
forces the assessor to either cough up the data to support their values or
negotiate a settlement based on data provided by the taxpayer or their
representative, like me. Its rare for a case to see the courtroom on
valuation issues alone.

Does a property tax appeal make sense for you? Time is running short-you
only have till the end of THIS MONTH to file. For a free quick evaluation
send me your property ID#s, property location and phone number to

TIP for dealing with frustrating phone machines for "Customer Service". Bank
of America has my home mortgage. When they sent me a statement that they
applied my extra principal payment to the escrow account I was a little
upset, as I don't have an escrow account. When I called their "customer
service" number there was no option for this problem and I absolutely
couldn't reach a live person. Looking on my statement there was another
phone number for getting a home equity line. I called and a salesman
answered on the 2nd ring! When they think I want to buy something they
answered the phone! The salesman got me to a live person who resolved my

Contrast this experience with one I had the next day. A funds transfer I had
ordered last week didn't go through. I got a personal call from the Citizens
State Bank of Waverly that a check I wrote for $250 bounced. Within a minute
the delayed transfer was made - problem fixed. Support your community bank.

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