Client gets $220,000 reduction in assessed value

I got some great news recently for a client, so I wanted to share the bliss. This client hired me to help him get his property taxes in sync with the current market since his home in Carmichael was overassessed by over $200,000 (ouch). After I turned in my tax appeal report to the Assessment Appeals Board in Sacramento County, his assessed value was lowered by $222,574. This means he’ll be getting a $2,300+ refund check in the mail. Cha-ching.

lowered property taxes for a client - by sacramento tax appeals

There is so much confusion and dishonest information out there about the property tax appeals process. If you have any questions, you may want to read 5 Things to Know about 2013 Property Taxes (or watch the video below). Then be sure to look up your 2013 assessment on the Assessor’s website.

Question: What would you do with a $2,300 refund check? Comment below.

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One more month to appeal your property taxes in Sacramento County

Image purchased by Sacramento Appraisal Blog and used with permission - Image credit www.123rf.comphoto_10939567_businessman-taking-a-hit-by-the-taxe-s-hand.html'luislouro - 250 pixI wanted to remind everyone that you have one more month to appeal your 2012 property taxes in Sacramento County. The deadline to dispute your assessed value is November 30, 2012. This deadline is for typical “decline in value” situations where the market has decreased in value, but the assessed value is out of sync with reality. Keep in mind the assessed value is supposed to be based on January 1, 2012 – NOT today. If you have questions about how the process works, you can scan through over 60 property tax articles I’ve written or feel free to email or call. However, read here about some of the nuts and bolts of property taxes to help you get started. Being that it’s down to the last month, I highly recommend owners to fill out the Application for Changed Assessment (a formal appeal) instead of the Prop 8 Form (a free form that carries zero weight after November 30). Like I tell everyone, it’s great if you can do your own research in the appeals process, but if you need help, let’s connect.

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It’s now property tax appeal season in Sacramento

It’s now property tax appeal season, so I wanted to quickly answer some of the most common questions I’m asked by property owners. Skim below to get a sense of what to expect during the tax appeal process. I hope this is helpful.

When is the first date to appeal property taxes in Sacramento County?
July 2, 2012 is the first date to dispute your property taxes in Sacramento County for a “decline in value” situation. A “decline in value” is when the market has declined, but the Assessor has not kept up with current trends. In short, this means you’re paying too much in property taxes.

How much time do you have to dispute your property taxes?
You can dispute your property’s assessed value from July 2 to November 30, 2012 in Sacramento County for typical “decline in value” situations. Most counties surrounding Sacramento keep the same time-table, but keep in mind Placer County has a deadline of September 15. Remember that supplemental assessments and escape assessments are often date-restricted (60 days from the Assessor’s letter).

How much money can be saved?
Every $10,000 of assessed value equals about $100-125 out of your wallet. If you are overassessed by $50,000, for example, then that’s $500-625 of overpayment for the year. This might sound outrageous, but you’d be surprised how common it is for property owners to be overassessed. Over the past several years I’ve found most clients have been scheduled to overpay anywhere from $400-$1,000. The largest reduction a client received was over $10,000 for the year.

How do you know if you should appeal or not?
The first thing you should do is look up your assessed value on the Assessor’s website (Sacramento County). The assessed value is supposed to be based on January 1, 2012 (NOT today’s value). Does the value seem reasonable to you? My tax appeal company can look up your property for free too to see if there might be a savings for you. Click HERE to fill out a brief property profile.

Which application should you fill out? 
I strongly recommend filling out the “Application for Changed Assessment”. There are actually two forms available to property owners, so it can be a bit confusing at times. However, only one of the forms is an actual appeal. Watch the video below (or here) for clarification on the “Decline in Value” (Prop 8) form vs. the “Application for Changed Assessment.”

What do you to give the Appeals Board besides the application? 
It’s extremely important to support your value. This is really the meat of your appeal. Choosing a random value without support or lowballing your assessed value is not a good idea. You should support your opinion of value with comparable sales around the date of assessment (January 1, 2012) and any other market data to supplement the sales. If you can do that, great. If you need help doing that, I’m here for you. My appeals are very well-supported and include the best comparable sales, the least comparable sales (when applicable), multiple graphs of market trends, a description of the neighborhood market and a reconciliation of value to help explain why your property is worth what it is worth.

Do you need a full appraisal when disputing your property taxes?
No. Unless your property is custom or extremely different, I don’t recommend a full appraisal in most cases. I’ve developed a mini-product that is far more affordable, yet still gives a very detailed analysis of the market. This product has worked very well and is about 1/3 of the cost of a full appraisal.

What happens after you turn in your appeal?
The Sacramento County Assessment Appeals Board technically has up to two years to get back to property owners when they file a property tax appeal. I’ve personally not seen them take that long for my clients, though it is technically possible. I’ve been finding many of the 2011 appeals I did for home owners in the Fall of 2011 have already been resolved or are in process right now (there are some I’m still waiting on of course). Read more HERE.

This post could go on and on. If you have other questions, please see my property tax appeal website as well as my property tax appeal article library. I am glad to talk via email or the phone too to help explain the process. I’ll always be honest with you and explain all of your options. There are too many tax appeal companies that frankly rip people off by providing a low-quality product, and on top of that they take 40-50% of your refund if the appeal is successful. That’s not how I run things as I have a nominal flat fee and my reports are very solid.

Any questions or stories to share?

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What happens after you file a property tax appeal?

Immediate results would be nice, but that’s not how it works in the world of tax appeals. The Sacramento County Assessment Appeals Board technically has up to two years to get back to property owners when they file a property tax appeal. I’ve personally not seen them take that long for my clients, though it is technically possible. I’ve been finding most of the 2011 appeals I did for home owners have been starting to get resolved over the past few months. The bulk of these appeals were turned in just before the deadline in November 2011. Some of them were resolved in about three months (that’s very quick), whereas others have taken more than six months (and I’m still waiting on some too).

What happens after you turn in your appeal?

1.  Letter in the Mail from the Appeals Board: After you’ve filled out the Application for Changed Assessment and the Assessment Appeals Board has reviewed your file, they’ll send you a letter in the mail (or if I’m your agent, then I get the letter and handle everything for you while you relax). This is not junk mail. Watch your mail carefully because you need to respond.

Letter from Assessors Office in Sacramento County

2.  Withdraw or not Withdraw? That is the Question: The letter the Appeals Board sends will either: a) Agree with your opinion of value and ask you to therefore withdraw your appeal; b) Ask you to agree with a new value they pick (not your value, but maybe close to it) and therefore withdraw your appeal; or c) Set up an appeals hearing to further discuss your situation. Don’t worry about filling out the following “Tax Change Withdrawal” form. It’s a legitimate form. All you are doing is agreeing with the new value and withdrawing your right to further appeal. If you don’t agree with the value, call the Appeals Board appraiser and discuss the market (the phone number should be listed on the letterhead in the same envelope as the withdrawal form).

Sacramento County tax appeal withdrawal form

The Sometimes Tricky Part: It’s always ideal when the Appeals Board agrees with the value you came up with, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the Appeals Board appraiser offers a slightly higher value. When this happens, I typically coach my clients to accept the value so long as it is fairly close to the value I came up with. Unless the value is really too high, it’s not worth it to spend extra time and money to argue for an additional $100 savings.

Situation #1: This happened to a client last week. The withdrawal form offered $250,000, but the value I came up with was $230,000 (this was a very solid value too). I called up the appraiser and had a discussion about the market. I got the sense that he was not going to budge, so I asked him to meet me in the middle at $240,000. He agreed. While $230,000 would have been ideal, the extra $10,000 in property taxes is only worth about $125, so my client chose to rejoice that his taxes were lowered from $280,000, and simply accept the $240,000. Had we gone through the appeals hearing, I’m confident that $230,000 would have prevailed, but sometimes it’s just not worth the effort in light of minimal savings to be had. The property owner makes this decision though and I’ll move forward with either direction.

Situation #2: The Appeals Board initially rejected the value I proposed at $160,000 and instead persisted to advocate for $200,000. Honestly, I’m not sure the appraiser even read through my report, but that’s another story. My research was extremely detailed with graphs and a clear picture of value at $160,000. It’s a good thing I knew the market because when the Assessor’s appraiser called me back (while I was out and about) to discuss the situation, he took into consideration my points and agreed with the $160,000 value.

Most of the time if you put together a solid report, the Appeals Board will agree with your value or offer you something very close. It’s nothing to be worried about. On the other hand, if you lowball a value and offer nearby sales that really aren’t comps, then don’t be surprised if your value is rejected altogether. If the Appeals Board does not agree with your value, and you wish to move forward still, then be ready to plan for an appeals hearing.

refund3.  When will you get your tax refund? After you withdraw your application and agree to a new value, your refund should come within 95 business days. Please note BUSINESS DAYS. Don’t expect to be the exception either. You’ll get between $100-125 back for every $10,000 in property reduction. If you were overassessed by $50,000, for example, you would get $500-625 back in your pockets. Most clients get back anywhere from several hundred dollars to sometimes $2,000. I had one client that was owed over $10,000 back.

Is it worth it to appeal your property taxes? If you are overassessed, it is absolutely worth it. It might sound like a pain to a certain extent, but in my opinion it’s more of a pain to pay too much in property taxes. If the details stress you out, then give me a call. If you need help, I’m very good at what I do, and I’m glad to take a look at your situation to see if there might be a potential savings for you.

I hope this was helpful. Let me know if you have any questions, check out other articles on property taxes and visit my property tax appeal website for additional information.

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