Navigating the labyrinth of property tax assessments and appeals can be daunting. However, you’re not alone in this journey. One of your strongest allies can be a professional real estate appraiser. Here’s how an appraiser can play a pivotal role in helping you appeal your property taxes.
What is a Real Estate Appraiser?
A real estate appraiser is an expert in determining the value of property. They use a combination of methods, including direct observation, recent sales data of comparable properties, and market trends, to arrive at a fair and unbiased estimate of a property’s value.
Why Do You Need an Appraiser for Property Tax Appeals?
When you receive your annual property tax bill, you might find yourself disagreeing with the tax assessor’s valuation of your property. This is where a real estate appraiser comes in. Here’s how they can help:
- Professional Valuation: An appraiser can provide an independent, professional valuation of your property. If you believe that the tax assessor’s valuation is too high, a professional appraisal can serve as robust evidence to support your claim. The independent appraiser, unlike the tax assessor will do an in depth analysis of your home. They will measure it to confirm proper sq footage, look at the condition of the home (dated, updated etc) as well as all external issues that can effect the value of the property, something the tax assessor does not do. The assessor again does not do this in Depth inspection of your home and this could provide you with the proper I formation to show your home is not similar to others.
- Comparable Sales Data: Appraisers use recent sales of similar properties in your area to determine your property’s value. If the comps used by the tax assessor are not truly comparable to your property, the appraiser can identify more appropriate comps to show a lower valuation. Appraisers are not advocates but rather impartial to the the process. However they will take all the factual information they have gathered from the site visit and the sales (using many methods and data points) to determine the fair market value of the home as of the cut off date the assessor uses. Example: the state of GA uses January 1st of the current year, therefore all comparable sales used MUST be prior to this date.
- Insight on Property Characteristics: Appraisers also examine the characteristics of your property, such as size, condition, and location. If the tax assessor’s records contain errors about these characteristics, it could lead to an incorrect valuation. An appraiser can provide accurate information to rectify these errors.
- Support During the Appeal Process: A qualified appraiser can also guide you through the tax appeal process. They can prepare necessary documents, explain the appraisal report to the review board, and even testify as an expert witness if your appeal goes to a hearing.
- Knowing the difference: This is a big item. You must remember this. Real estate appraisers VALUE a property. Real estate agents price them. Agents advocate, appraisers do not. Appraisers have access to information most do not and they spend many hours deciphering it. There is a difference between above grade GLA (gross living area and finished basement area.). Many agents rely on tax records and do not go the extra mile to determine what is above grade and what is not. They make this mistake in almost all listings this resulting in poor pricing and longer days on market. There is a major difference in above grade and basement areas and I’ve written a blog on this you can read. Don’t get the wrong info, get the correct info.
While hiring a real estate appraiser does come with an upfront cost, the potential long-term savings on your property tax bill can make it a worthwhile investment. Always remember to hire a state-certified appraiser who is familiar with your local real estate market and valuation techniques.
Whether you’re contemplating an appeal or just trying to understand the complexities of your property tax assessment, remember the value of expert help. With a professional appraiser by your side, you’ll be well-equipped to ensure that your property is assessed fairly and that you’re not paying more than your fair share in property taxes.
We at What’s It Worth Appraisal Services have helped many appeal their property taxes successfully while also helping others understand that their fair market value is above what the assessor has stated.