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Should You Challenge a Re-Assessed Property Value?

They say nothing is certain in life but death and taxes. When you’re a homeowner, that statement includes property tax–and potentially paying more of it if your property’s value is re-assessed by the county auditor’s office.

While counties vary in how and when property values are re-assessed, most have a process that takes place at least every five to eight years. You’ll know it’s underway when you receive notification from the county auditor’s office by mail. If you’ve been paying taxes on the inflated home values that dominated the market before the housing bubble burst, your notification may actually lead to a lower tax payment.

Nevertheless, despite the continued lull in the housing market’s recovery, some homeowners are receiving news from their county auditor that property values are slated for an increase. As a result, property taxes go up, too. Here is an explanation of your options if you are notified that your home value has been reassessed to an amount higher than what you believe the property is worth:

Your Options

All counties allow the option for homeowners to react to reassessed values, whether up or down.  Start by doing a little sleuthing of your own, and use your county auditor’s website to research the home values of similar properties in your neighborhood (this information is free and public record). Gauge the “going rate” in your market by researching comparable home sales in your neighborhood, ask neighbors what value the county auditor has newly proposed for their property, and explore sites like Zillow and Trulia.

Once you’ve gathered real value data, compare it to the new figure your country auditor has determined—and keep in mind that short sales and foreclosed property figures are typically not considered as a valid form of value comparison. If you still feel confident that there is a discrepancy between the “real” and reassessed value of your property, Marsh Bilby of Marsh Bilby Appraisers & Consultants, LLC says the first step is to understand how the appraisal process works, and the potential costs that it carries.

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In Tampa Bay Business Journal

Property appraisers: Values not falling off a cliff

Date: Monday, September 13, 2010, 12:00am EDT – Last Modified: Monday, September 13, 2010, 2:00am EDT

Marsh Bilby, owner of Marsh Bilby Appraisers & Consultants LLC, appraises a home on Shore Acres in St. Petersburg. He photographed and took notes on the home on the water.

Marsh Bilby, owner of Marsh Bilby Appraisers & Consultants LLC, appraises a home on Shore Acres in St. Petersburg. He photographed and took notes on the home on the water.

Tampa Bay commercial and residential property owners held their breath this summer. As oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico daily, they feared loss of property values, especially in coastal counties.

Gov. Charlie Crist on July 21 issued an executive order authorizing property appraisers to provide interim assessments of properties affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The goal was to determine if values declined due to the spill to back up claims to BP.

The executive order authorized, but did not require, property appraisers to conduct interim assessments.

Bill Furst, property appraiser for Sarasota County, said he did not conduct interim assessments. He said he would act otherwise if he had reason believe value was lost.

Not enough time has passed to show there’s been any effect, Furst said. “The timeframe is too short.”

Read the rest in the Tampa Bay Business Journal

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