Tuesday, April 07, 2009

County Tax Assessor Trying to Raise My Property Taxes Through Higher Property Appraisal. Here's My Response.

I received a notice of assessment from the county tax assessor for our newest investment property. We bought the now nine year old 3100sq ft house in 2006 for $219k. At the time, it appraised for $230k.

In the notice of assessment, the assessor appraised our property at $246,400. This is quite absurd in the current economy. The house currently appraises for $218k at Zillow.com and I suspect it would sell for $206k. Zillow is accurate for this property and was within $1k of the original appraisal in 2006.

The assessment letter notifies the recipient of the opportunity to request an informal review of the appraisal. I had only 4 days upon receipt of the letter until the informal review deadline. Feel free to plagiarise my below letter as necessary. I hope it helps. Here's what I wrote (minus two attachments and info specific to my property):

I am requesting an informal review due to the 13 percent disparity between the value I believe my property has ($218k) and that assessed by the {insert county name} County Assessor ($246.4k). I bought my property in March 2006 for $219k when it was appraised by both Zillow and a local appraiser at $230k. I believe that my property's value is between $206K to $218K.

Per the respected Yale Economist Robert Shiller (co-founder of Case-Shiller Housing Index), use of household incomes are a popular approach for identifying appropriate house values. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t12.htm), our nation's unemployment rate is 8.5 percent and has been steadily worsening. Per BLS, our nations' total unemployed and underemployed is 15.6 percent and steadily worsening (both percentages as of end of Mar).

Household incomes are directly tied to employment rates. This is, in part, one explanation for the decline in home values.

I am including two enclosures.

Enclosure one (online attachment) includes: Page 1 is a home appraisal of {insert street name} done on 3 Apr 2009 indicating a value of $218k; Page 2 (top) includes a chart showing that {insert town name} real estate values (yellow line) has increased by 25% since 2005 whereas the value of {insert street name} has decreased by about 5%; Page 2 (bottom) shows a similar chart comparing the {insert zip code} zip code with the property value at {insert street name}; Page 3 shows my own comps manually done comparing four local houses sold. One of the houses is in a subdivision immediately adjoining (two houses down from mine); another house is in my subdivision; the final two are in a more desirable subdivision two miles away. Page 3 shows a smaller house two down from mine selling for $113k and another house in my subdivision with water frontage selling for $170k. Finally, the last two houses are full two story houses compared with my 1.2 story house, these last two houses are of comparable size but have 8.7 to 10.2 times the acreage. Both of these last two houses are in a more desirable subdivision and still sell for approximately $11k less than the value the appraiser's office has assessed my property.

The {insert town name} real estate market trends can be approximated by comparisons with the {insert city name} market.

Enclosure 2 (separate faxed document) is a 2009 real estate report on {insert city name} provided by CNNMoney.com. It indicates that property values in {insert city name} peaked in the 2nd QTR of 2006 and that a 13.4% decline in property values occurred between the average property value peak and the end of 2008. It also indicates a 10% decline for property values for the last year alone. Finally, it indicates, based on extensive sources, that {insert city name} area property values are forecasted to continue to decline until the 3rd QTR of 2009.

The property at {insert street name} has had no significant capital improvements on site. There is no significant reason to assume that this property would command a premium over other houses. It doesn't have granite counter tops, it has one of the cheapest AC brands (Janitrol), it has cheap single pane windows, no hardwood interior trim and otherwise unremarkable in value especially when compared with properties noted in my owner generated comps page (Encl 1, page 4).

I sincerely appreciate your informal review of the appraisal of parcel ID {insert parcel ID} {insert street name}. This parcel is a prior primary residence of mine converted into an investment property. I am a military service member who is now residing in {insert state} state at {insert mailing address}.

Request your office confirm receipt of this document. Request that your office confirm that both the attached and faxed enclosures were received and can be viewed clearly by the individual handling my informal review request.

Very Respectfully,
{insert name and contact info}

1 comment:

Finance Junkie said...

I used zillow.com to generate some of the pages of enclosure 1 noted in the above article.