How to Lower your Property Taxes

As a homeowner, the amount you pay in property tax depends on the value at which your home has been assessed by the government.

These assessments can, however be appealed.  If you can establish that the assessment of the value of your home is inaccurately high, the assessment will be lowered and thus your property tax will be lowered.

When might it be promising to appeal?

1.  Relevant home values have declined more and faster than the assessments have likely kept up with.

The main factor governments use in assessing the value of a home is the sale price of similar homes in the last several years.

But if property values in your area have fallen considerably over that time, your home is presumably worth less than what homes like it sold for in the past, even the recent past.

For example, perhaps homes like yours sold for $700,000 three years ago, $650,000 two years ago, and $600,000 a year ago.  What would you likely be able to sell your home for today?  Somewhere in the $550,000-$600,000 range presumably, given that downward trend.  But when the government looks at those recent sale prices, the average is likely right around $650,000.  If it bases its assessment largely on this factor, we would expect it to come in at least close to $650,000.  You’d be able to make a case, then, that your home’s true value is quite a bit lower than that.

2.  Your home is inferior to those the government deemed sufficiently comparable to base its assessment on.

As noted, governments look at what homes like yours have sold for in recent years.  But what if the homes they used as comparisons are arguably not so similar to yours?  You may be able to show that there are things about your home that would make it sell for less than those homes used in the assessment, or perhaps show that other homes that could equally or more justifiably be compared to yours have sold for less in recent years than the homes the government happened to pick.

3.  There is an inaccuracy in the description of your home.

Usually to challenge an assessment, we’re talking about subjective valuations.  But occasionally an assessment will get some specific fact wrong.  For example, your home might be 2,600 square feet but the government wrongfully used a figure of 2,800 square feet when assessing its value.

If any of these reasons are present in your case, you stand a realistic chance of lowering your property taxes on appeal.