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Tax Assessment Appeals

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Mike Garrett RAA

Elite Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
County raised his assessment valuation by 28%. Did an appraisal on the property and found it worth substantially less. He took it to assessor who denied his request. We went to the Board of Equalization and won. The main issue, their comps weren't comparable. So much for AVMs which is what Mass Appraisal is.
 

Jeff Horton

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Alabama
Do you get many jobs for tax appeal? Our tax assessments for the most part are pretty consistent and under market value. I have done one that they had over valued. But I have wondered if there might be a market for that in the future.

I don't know all the details but the State came in and took control of our Assessors office a couple of years ago to straighten out the mess it is in. There was an uproar over the tax increases but the appraised values were in line for the most part. People were just mad at the big increases. I chose not to get involved in any of those. But they now are trying to re-asses each year and I have a feeling in the next couple of years there may be some legitimate cases and some worthwhile Appraisal business to go along with it.

Do you charge by the hour for any "Court Time" above the appraisal fee?
 

Dee Dee

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
Jeff,

I just did my first tax appeal appraisals this year, and to be honest I think I'll reconsider ever doing them again. The problem that I encountered was that the ones who needed appraisals the most were also the ones that could least afford the excessive and unfair increases in their taxes (predominantly seniors on fixed incomes), so I had to wrestle with feeling comfortable about charging a fee that was truly fair to myself. All were unusual properties, so comps didn't come easy. The whole process was confusing to my clients and excessive time was spent trying to explain to them how the taxation process was supposed to work and why it didn't in their individual cases. The three tax appeal appraisals that I accepted were all older couples who were well into their 70's and 80's, most with health problems.

I sold myself short and justified it as my little contribution to help out those who needed it. From a business point-of-view it was not the best choice to make at a time that I probably should have been focusing on building a more solid client base, but the experience taught me some things that I might not have learned otherwise.

Other points to consider is that there is usually only about a 2 month period of time that the county will allow appeals to be made, and most homeowners tend to wait until the last month to get serious about finding an appraiser. The worst part, in my opinion, is that inevitably it's the decision of the assesor's office, and if they're looking for more money it doesn't matter how good your appraisal is. They can completely ignore it if they want to.
 

John Hassler

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
I picked up a total fixer from an estate for $145k which was about $25k under market. The assessed value came in at $195k. Of course I went to bat with them. When I asked the county appraiser if they had a licence from the state I was told "no, I have a an apprisiers designation used by Assessor's". I then asked for the comps they used. Horibble comps, all very close but different zoning/type (one commercial zoned, one duplex zoned, and one with three bedrooms when mine was a one bedroom). I did get the assessment knocked down to $175k but after way to much work. I view assessors like building inspectors, a group that work for the government because they couldn't make it in the real world. If you do appraisals for assessment purposes keep your ego in check and be prepared to throw rationale to the wind.
 

Farm Gal

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Nebraska
ummm.

The assessors in my area are primarily straight up folk who wrestle with a regular workload that makes fee appraisers' boom refi times look like a walk in the park.

SURE they miss on some valuations. No kiddin! They have neither the time nor the access to the interior that tells "the rest of the story" to aid them in determining a dead-on value. It's called mass appraisal folks :yellowblack: , and on unique properties, on properties with atypical charicteristics in condition, or on the borderline of a neighborhood (or one in transistion)... they aren't going to be correct, and are lucky )or darn good) if they get close. They are darn good in most of my work areas.

I am fighting a deep urge to use my daughter 'stupid stare' and associated: "DUH!?!?!"

~~~~~~~~~~
That said, overvaluation is gonna happen!

Instead of trash talking them, why don't you figure out in terms of mill value // total cost to the homeowner exactly what that over-valuation is costing them. I usually ask the HO what they think the house is really worth do the math using their mill values, and inform them of how much 'extra' they are really paying. Most find to their shock that it is a quite nominal sum!

Most time in my area the overvaluation (if any) usually comes to less in 5 years than my appraisal fee to assist them in fighting the value on one year. I usually sympathise with them tell them how to attempt to solve it them selves or to put it down as one of lifes little annoyances and just pay the bill. If they want to fight it 'on principal', I usually encourage them to find someone else since that same person also tends to want me to cut my fee :eek: "because it is so unfair".

I have taken 5 tax valuation cases in as many years. All the homeowners were justifiably irritated.. One guy had a 50K tax increase and pointed out the only change to the property was a newly installed flagpole :eek: One was on my own behalf: I purchased a rundown home and it had NO baths, 1 bedroom and was uninhabitable... as opposed to thier 3br /2ba designation :rolleyes: ... and that was the one the tax guy fought tooth and nail over :eyecrazy: . I maintained it was worth exactly what I paid for it: after two YEARS of exposure :rolleyes: Two of my tax protest cases were for elderly folk and done at no fee.

Never hear of someone protesting their tax is too low do we :lol:

I got an idea: How about NOT trashtalking unles your tax folk are truely incompetent?

Property taxes are in MY opinion one of the only 'fair' taxes we have in this country!
 

Dee Dee

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
LeeAnn,

Unfortunately of the three appeal appraisals that I accepted this year it had been an ongoing battle for these property owners. We're not talking about a measly $50,000 overvaluation....much closer to or above $100,000, and all had to do with larger acreage properties. What we have here is a county that is very pro-development, and as a result many long-time residents are being forced to subdivide their properties and sell off portions because of the higher taxes. The costs associated with subdividing are more horrific than paying the taxes.

One that I turned down because I was too busy involved a small two-bedroom home on 35 acres that was predominantly unbuildable cliffs. Homeowner offered to donate 33 acres of the property to the county if they would be willing to pick up the cost of subdividing what they percieved as a $500,000 estate. The homeowner got it from the zoning department that it would cost nearly $20,000 for her to do it on her own. County said no way....it wasn't worth it.....but we're still gonna tax as if it's prime building land. :rolleyes:
 

John Hassler

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
Originally posted by Lee Ann@Jul 21 2003, 05:16 AM


One was on my own behalf: I purchased a rundown home and it had NO baths, 1 bedroom and was uninhabitable... as opposed to thier 3br /2ba designation :rolleyes: ... and that was the one the tax guy fought tooth and nail over :eyecrazy: . I maintained it was worth exactly what I paid for it: after two YEARS of exposure :rolleyes:



Well "DUH". Thanks for confirming my point. It's less about the value of the property and more about dealing with the power the assessor wields. And like I said, they don't even need to be state licenced appraisers, just pass a course required by the assessor's office.

With few exceptions, mass appraisals are rarely the basis for rate increases/decreases in California since the adoption of Proposition of 13 in 1978 (tax value based on market value at time of sale with no more that 2% increase per year).

BTW, if you want to believe working from 8-5 with 12-1 off for lunch, Monday-Friday, with 2-4 weeks of paid vacation and every imaginable holiday off is a heavy work schedule be my guest.
 

Farm Gal

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Nebraska
John:

Read again: they didn't get to go inside: the prior owners never addressed the issue.

Prop 13 exisits to the best of my knowlege ONLY in the golden(?) State.

Other places have different rooles.

In KS there is a state mandate to reappraise every THREE {edited for accuracy} years, and they are mandated to be quite accurate :usa: (cannot presently recall to what standard, but it is pretty darn high)... {93%accurate}.

Some of the computer guru county appraiser types in my home and two adjacent counties I would put up against any of the top numbercrunchers on this forum any day of the week. In my home county they run stats analyses for about a month and a half every year ~ before starting on the next years valuations. They have in my 'home county' broken many neighborhoods down to sub-markets of less than 1/10 of a mile... that kind of close analysis done by that many people tends to beat much of what I can economically do.

For folks doing the type of work they are doing, they do a darn good job: and that is based on MY simple analysis of taking actual sales prices versus appraised values. My finding is in my home area, they are overall within 4% of actual sale price over 95% of the time, when also taking into account the general area appreciation... and no that isn't AFTER they changed the next years values! :rolleyes:

Correct me if I am wrong, but that degree of value accuracy is kinda what we hope to attain after a personal inspection of the interior and exterior and hearing the life history of the house. Keep in mind they don't get to go inside, and they don't get to hear the life history of the individual homes (replaced the HVAC last week, new roof 19 1/2 months ago... etc etc :rolleyes: ) and they didn't get to read the realtors whitewash before arriving at their value!

So despite the fact that the tax man is pretty universally hated... and that we like to disparage the 'inaccuracy' of those other guys... lets keep in mind what they are actually doing before/while you disparage. I will take up the offensive on folks who just bash mass appraisers all the time.

~~~~

Now if you want to grouse about double -dipping folk who moonlight as FEE appraisers while collecting benefits from county or state... I can accomodate you there: being both a state capitol and a county seat I can assure you I have plenty of competition from 'those sort' <_< .

I sort of figure you ought to be one or the other not both :angry:
 

Ramon A. Olivarez

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2003
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Texas
I have been in mass appraisal for over 20 years and I also have my fee appraisers designation. I am not in fee appraising because I could not make it. I rather enjoy working in mass appraising since it is a challenge. To say that mass appraising is not without it's fault is to ignore the facts. I can speak only for my area but I feel we do a good job with regards to appraising properties. Our appraisers have to take courses and have a state designation after 4 years on the job, if they dont get the designation by passing the exam (they are given more than one chance) then they can no longer appraise for the appraisal district. It has happened to several personnel. It would be nice if they were all MAI's but then they would all leave and become fee appraisers. B)
As an earlier post mentioned, our appraisers are not allowed to enter the interior of a structure univited. That does put a bit of a handicapp on the appraiser. As for an appeal period, that is mandated by state law. By law, our county has to certify by July. If the appeal period was year round the taxing entities would have problems with their tax roll, not knowing how much value they could count on. As it is, the tax rolls get monthly supplements adding and removing value from their tax base.
We do not raise the value of properties because the taxing entities need more money. The appraisal office has to meet the requirements of the property tax law which says that their values must be set at market. Are we at market value for each and every property in the county. No. Impossible. The state does a yearly audit/ratio study of the appraisal values and advises the office what ratio that their county is at. If the ratio falls below accepted guidelines the appraisal office has to determine why and correct this.
Several of the posters here have worked or work for a goverment appraisal office. I am sure they can make it in the real world. Where I work, I cannot double dip, I cannot do fee appraisals in the taxing jurisdictions for which my office does appraisals. I got my appraiser certification to learn the other side of the coin. It would be nice if all the staff appraisers could do the same. I am sure they would all benefit from the knowledge they would gain and vice versa, that fee appraisers take time to understand the mass appraisal system and what is involved.
That said, I am sure we can all agree to disagree on the merits of mass appraisal, but, be kind to the people who do work for a mass appraisal office. For the most part, they are people who perform their duties diligently, they put up with quite a bit from the taxpayers who unload on them for the work someone else did. Many a taxpayer vents their emotions on them andhold them personally respondisble for the increase in real estate taxes. They have to sit there and take it for the most part. Yes, they do get paid for it. Yes, they do get vacations, sick leave, one hour lunch periods, holidays and EEK PAY RAISES!! Heavy work load? Not all the time but there are times. Why shouldn't they enjoy the benefits that workers across the country enjoy?
FIN
 

Jo Ann Meyer Stratton

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Arizona
Lee Ann and Alejandro:
As a former mass appraiser, very glad to see both postings! Alejandro, are you a member of the IAAO? Any assessor's office or appraisal district personnel that is a member would be in violation of their own professional ethics to complete private fee appraisals in the same governing entity where they work for the county/city/state. Weekends, vacations, etc they could go out of their area--but I don't think that is a very good idea. Again, as a retired RES, again thank you!

Jo Ann Meyer Stratton, RES (retired), IFA, SRA
 
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