Your Potential Savings vs. The Letter from the Sacramento County Assessors Office

moneyAt some point around June 2009 the Sacramento County Assessor’s Office should be mailing a letter to certain households stating that the Assessor has lowered the assessed value on particular homes (if they determined that value declined). Don’t worry, if you are located in Placer, El Dorado, Yolo, San Joaquin, Solano or any other local county, you may also be getting a letter.

Here is the scenario: You purchased your home in the Sacramento Region for $550,000 in 2005 and so you were paying about $6,000 in property tax based upon 1.25% (the maximum percentage in CA). The assessed value of your home was based upon the purchase price which was assumed to be fair market value at the time of sale. Your home has since declined in value over time and the Assessor says your home is now worth $450,000. Thankfully your current taxes get bumped down then to around $5,500 based on the adjusted assessment at $450,000.

This is wonderful news, right? You are happy to save five hundred dollars and the Assessor looks really good too in light of gaining a ton of positive publicity in the media because he has “lowered property taxes”. This should be great cause for celebration, but the only problem is that your home is actually worth somewhere between $375,000 and $400,000 rather than $450,000. In effect, this means that you are paying for $50,000-$75,000 of value that you don’t actually have. In essence, this comes out to paying $500 to $750 out of your pocket each year that you should not have to pay.

This is only a mild scenario. There are home owners in niches of surrounding counties that are paying way more than $500 too much each year because the assessment is off by $100,000-$400,000.

Think about your property tax assessment this way:

  • Assessed Value $25,000 too high = you overpay by $250 per year
  • Assessed Value $50,000 too high = you overpay by $500 per year 
  • Assessed Value $100,000 too high = you overpay by $1,000 per year
  • Assessed Value $150,000 too high = you overpay by $1,500 per year
  • Assessed Value $200,000 too high = you overpay by $2,000 per year

What are your options?

1) Do nothing. Surprisingly, this is often an option that many people choose because appealing property taxes is unfamiliar turf that people sometimes just don’t know how to handle. Or life is busy and this whole process seems like a pain to deal with. But are you comfortable paying even $50 extra per month to the County? What else could you be doing with that extra $500 each year?

2) Pay a minimal fee to me to handle the entire situation for you. I can do all the research, stand before the appeals board on your behalf, make charts and graphs, assess neighborhood trends, and put together convincing evidence for a lowered opinion of value – a true reflection of the real estate market. You have a potential to save a great deal of money each year.

Taxes are a part of life and there is no escaping them, but we don’t want to pay a penny more than we have to. Make sure that you are keeping your hard-earned money in your pockets by paying your fair share of property tax and no more. Please contact me at 916-595-3735 for any details.

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