Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why Do Some Tax Appeals Fail? . . . . . .

April 1st Filing Deadline to Appeal Your Property Taxes . . .

Want to appeal your taxes on your own and all you need are the right comparables sales?  The deadline for filing is April 1st ie the paperwork has to be received by the county by April 1st. 

The  number one reason why a tax appeal fails is because the applicant does  not have comparable sales that demonstrate the current value of the  subject.  It's not enough to find a unit that is the same size in the  same town that is at a lower price point.  In a walking town, like  Hoboken, proximity is extremely important as is condition, building  style and amenity.  The comps are at the core of proving your home is  over assessed and therefore warrants a reduction. 

To win a tax appeal you have to prove your home is not worth what it was the last time it was assessed.  Every time a home is sold, the assessed value is readjusted based on the sale price.  The assessed value is a function of the market value.

One of the most common errors in making a tax appeal is using the wrong comparable sales.  The comp has to be dated within a specific time period, has to be similar in features both in terms of the building and the unit, space and of course, location, location, location.  In a walking town like Hoboken, blocks matter. It takes about an hour to pull the comps and make defendable adjustments for differences.  It's important that you understand these judgments so that you can make your case to the assessor.

Unless you go to the County Recorder's office and look up closings manually, most public closing databases are 6 months old and even if you had easy access, other than the lot size or square footage the tax record in not going to have any photos or description.  How can you tell it's the correct comp?  How can you prove it to the Tax Assessor?

The comps have to be dated after October 1 for the April 1st deadline to file in a given year.  This year it could be quite a challenge.  As you may recall from my "2010 Year in Review" article, volume was way down in Q3 and Q4.  If your home is somewhat unique in size and amenity, it will make it even tougher to find good comps.  You have to widen the scope of the search and make adjustments for differences.  Real Estate is incredibly localized and real estate agents generally know the market better than appraisers.  On average, it takes about an hour to find the right comps, evaluate and provide a rationale for differences and and assign values to those differences.

I am not an attorney and do not offer legal advice but what I can do is provide access to the tax appeal forms, the government provided instructions and access to comparable sales so that you can apply for the appeal yourself.  I did it myself in 2009 and saved over $1,100.

Attorneys typically charge 1/3 of your savings which can be substantial depending on the size of your home and the decrease in value.  Attorneys can represent you at the appeal but often times still ask you to find your own comparable sales.  Appraisers charge $350 - $450 and may go with you to the appeal not as your representative but as an expert on property valuation.

Last year, I represented myself and won an approximate $1,100 reduction of my property taxes and my place is small -  585 square feet on Washington and 10th in Hoboken!  If I hired an attorney that would have cost me $363 and potentially another $350 - 450 for the appraiser.  I would have been left with only about $290 in savings - frankly not worth the time to bother.

Don't be afraid to represent yourself.  The instructions are self evident.  It's a simple 1 page form.  I will be happy to go over the form with you and show you where you can find pertinent data elements on your tax record to complete it.  See below for the form and instructions.

I charge $100 for comparable sales.  

I accept cash or Paypal only.  Please call 201-240-6832 or email me at donnaantonucci@gmail.com today, to make an appointment. 

The deadline for submitting your tax appeal form to the County Clerk is April 1st, 2012 and the comparable sales must be dated before October 1, 2011.

Here is the form and the instructions:
Tax Appeal Form        







Information Provided by Donna Antonucci
Prudential Castle Point Realty


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