Some homeowners are getting an unwanted surprise in their inboxes: new property valuations from local tax authorities that have put much more important in their homes than before the pandemic. In some cases, this means an increase in property taxes at a time when other costs, such as food and fuel, are also rising.

However, there is good news for homeowners. You can appeal your property valuation, and success means your tax bill can be lowered by hundreds and thousands of dollars.

The US housing market jumped during the pandemic, raising the cost of average housing to $ 344,000 – 37% higher than in February 2020. Counties and cities typically re-evaluate real estate every year or two, although sometimes there is a gap of several years – meaning homeowners now see the impact of the real estate boom in their tax bills.

“It’s no secret that the market has been insane for the past two years,” said John Whitehead, a Knox County property appraiser in Tennessee who recently sent out a new real estate appraisal, with home prices rising by an average of 40 percent.

Some property owners were shocked by the increase and tried to lower their valuation, he added. According to him, Knox County, where Knoxville is located, received 10,000 appeals, and about one-third managed to lower estimates. “If they can show that the value is wrong, we will change it,” Whitehead said.

While appealing your assessment may pay off, only about 5% of people do. according to to the fund of the National Union of Taxpayers. Over the past five years, the average property tax in the country has grown by 18%. analysis Home service company House Method found.

Here’s what experts advise people who plan to challenge their tax bill.

Understand the assessment of your city

First, it is important to note that a higher valuation of property does not necessarily mean a higher tax, experts say. This is because new estimates are usually designed to be revenue-neutral, which means the municipality cannot get more tax revenue through new estimates.

Instead, it’s important to see if your percentage increase is greater than your city or county’s overall average increase. For example, Knox County raised its estimates by 40%, but people whose assets rose below that rate received a tax cut, while those whose assets rose above 40% received a tax increase.

What can you sell your house for?

Some homeowners are shocked to see their new appraisal, but tax experts say some of those values ​​can be used to verify reality – the appraisal should reflect what your home can actually get in the real estate market.

Before you file an appeal, look at local real estate sales for comparable homes to see if your valuation meets market conditions. If the new appraisal values ​​your home higher than what the comparable properties are for, you can move forward with an appeal.

Find an appeal deadline in your city or county

Your new assessment should include information on how to file an appeal. There is usually time to file an appeal, sometimes just a few weeks.

For example, Cook County, Illinois, provides only to property owners 30 days file an appeal after receiving a new property appraisal, while homeowners in Fulton County, Georgia, where Atlanta is located, must 45 days. The conversion window can be very small, so you may need to act quickly.

Get a third party rating

Experts say it may pay to get an estimate of the value of your home by a third party. A local real estate agent who knows your market usually provides a comparative market analysis for free, said Richard O’Donnell, a former tax appraiser who now helps owners appeal their appraisals through O’Donnell & Cullen real estate tax advisors.

“This will help you determine if it matches fair market value,” O’Donnell said. “Many realtors will do it for free – it’s a way to promote their business.”

O’Donnell said she prefers to hire other professional appraisers because it can help strengthen your case when you go before the Appeals Board.

Stick to the facts

When it’s time to file your appeal, stick to the basics and remember that you don’t have much time to express your case – sometimes you’ll only have 15 minutes, experts say.

“A lot of them will come and they’ll talk about the appraisers’ office not doing what it should and it’s not helpful, ”said Whitehead of Knox County.

Professionally, talk about the facts – and do not be angry – he stressed.

Caution: Your score may also increase

Whitehead noted that property owners should also understand that there is a likelihood of an increase in their valuation due to an appeal.

“There’s the potential to go either way, although 95% of the time they’re not going to go up,” he said. “But there are times when we find out they have a pool and we didn’t [on the assessment]or they have a basement and it’s ready, ”which could have been an unknown assessor.

He added: “They need to make sure they have an appeal before they start giving information.”

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