What to do when a “Notice of Hearing” comes in the mail regarding your property taxes

So you filed your property taxes last year and have been waiting for an answer. Now what? Today I want to walk you through what happens after you turn in an appeal. This is good to know for home owners as well as real estate professionals.

After Filing an Appeal: Once you dispute your property taxes, if you provide good support for your value, chances are the Assessor may weigh your situation carefully and either agree with you or offer you a value that is somewhat close to your proposed value. But it doesn’t always play out like that.

notice of hearing from Assessor - Sacramento Appraisal Blog

The truth is even if you provide stellar data and give the best written presentation possible when filing an appeal, you can still get a “Notice of Hearing” form which sets up a date for you or your agent to appear at an appeals hearing. This hearing is generally the last opportunity to make your case for a lower assessed value.

Does a “Notice of Hearing” mean your value has been rejected? Not at all. Keep in mind sometimes these notices in Sacramento County are mailed automatically if the Assessor’s appraiser has yet to get to your file before a certain date. However, it could also be due to the appraiser not agreeing with your value. You’ll never know until you contact the Assessor (I do this for my clients).

Tax Change Withdrawal Form - Sacramento Appraisal Blog

A Real Life Communication Example: Let’s consider the example above. A home owner contacted me to help provide her with a valuation during the process of her tax appeal. I put together a very solid report to clearly illustrate market value. Even the graphs in my report made it incredibly obvious that her property was in no way worth $251,000. However, I still received a “Notice of  Hearing” to make an appearance at an Appeals Hearing. This notice was in no way due to my work, but rather the Assessor’s appraiser was not able to view the property’s file before the “Notice of Hearing” mailer deadline. This means I had to contact the Assessor’s appraiser to talk about the property once the notice came in the mail. Thankfully after reaching the appraiser it was a smooth process, and the appraiser ended up reducing the value by $121,000 (about $1,500 in savings). In light of the agreed upon verbal reduction, I then received the “Tax Withdrawal Form” from the Assessor and then faxed it to their office to basically resolve the appeal by agreeing to the new value listed. It would have been ideal to get the Tax Withdrawal Form in the first place since my original report was already conclusive, but this is how it works. Sometimes there are a couple of extra hoops of communication to jump through. This case was actually easy, but others have taken much longer.

In short, this is a small example, but it helps illustrate what it’s like to communicate regarding property taxes. Sometimes it can be smooth, but in many cases it’s a huge pain there are inconveniences that cause minor delays (which add up over time).

Property Tax Advice (after you file an appeal):

  1. It takes time: Be patient with the process as it can take a while to work it out.
  2. Strategic use of manners: Be diplomatic with the Assessor’s office. Avoid name-calling or rudeness.
  3. Negotiate a new value by calling: If you get a Notice of Hearing letter, contact the appraiser listed on the form to try to work out a value before the hearing takes place. Just because there is a scheduled hearing does not mean the hearing has to actually happen. It saves you and the Assessor time if you can come to an agreement before the hearing.
  4. Get good support: If you don’t have any support for your value or research, you should hire someone to help you. For instance, I am talking with a property owner right now about his hearing in 40 days. He has zero support for his value when he filed last year, so he really needs something to give to the Assessor (or have me do it for him).
  5. Be ready when making the call: Keep in mind sometimes a discussion about the value of your property ensues on the phone when calling the appraiser after getting a “Notice of Hearing.” The conversation can be critical for the Assessor’s interpretation of the market, so have your research ready before making the phone call. This is where really knowing the comps and neighborhood market comes in handy.

I hope this was helpful and you now have a bit more insight on what might happen after you file your property taxes. Let me know if you have any questions.

If you have any questions or Sacramento home appraisal or property tax appeal needs, let’s connect by phone 916-595-3735, email, Twitter, subscribe to posts by email (or RSS) or “like” my page on Facebook

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for the heads up. I filed timely, faxed my signed acceptance of the new value, but the old value still shows. (I have a fax receipt, but having worked with short sales, I know that means little!)

    So when I get my notice, I’ll know what to do thanks to Sir Ryan!

    • says

      Right on Jeff. It sounds like you did things perfectly and that it is wrapped up. Signing the “Withdrawal form” is really the last step and it essentially “withdraws” the appeal from moving forward again. I may not have made that very clear above as I wanted to highlight the communication process more than anything in this post.

      Your new value will take a while to post, and it’ll take a long while to be paid also (95 business days or so). If this was last year’s taxes, just pay very close attention to your new value come July 2013 (if your new assessment hasn’t posted before of course). I wouldn’t be surprised if your value does jump up a bit in light of the market this year having an uptick. I’m bracing for a tax increase myself.

      I actually wrote in more detail about the withdrawal form and potentials for after you file in case it’s relevant for anyone: http://sacramentoappraisalblog.com/2012/06/04/what-happens-after-you-file-a-property-tax-appeal-in-sacramento-county/

  2. says

    Excellent explanation of how an assessment appeal CAN be handled. Ryan Lundquist A) Provided factual support for his appeal rather than an “emotional” appeal that is so often made by homeowners B) Offers good advice on calling the assessment office appraiser prior to the scheduled hearding to see if additional information is needed or if an agreement can be reached. Caveat: If a jurisdiction has hundreds or even thousands of residential hearings scheduled, assessment appraisers may be swampped with hearings and may not have time to “discuss” residential appeals. Pick your battles!

    • says

      Thanks Brian. Well said too. I think you’re right about the Assessor’s appraisers being swamped. They definitely are in my area, though I’ve found they are almost always able to be reached (sometimes it takes a few phone calls) and they are most often willing to talk to work something out (if it’s reasonable of course).

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