Any helpful hints for Property Tax Appeals?

14 Replies

I need to appeal the county assessment on two of my properties.  I'm in Dekalb County, Georgia, but I'm assuming there are some great tips out there that can be used in general, so I thought I'd start a forum.



I actually have experience going through the property tax appeals process, both on my own properties as well as watching numerous other people go through it.  I was successful in getting mine lowered because I brought in accurate/recent sales comps (and even an actual appraisal on one of them - though that's not generally required).  90% of the other people I watched were not successful because they didn't spend the time to research their position and merely brought in a Zillow printout showing that their house was supposedly worth less than it was being accessed for. 

Based on my experience, I think the best thing you can do is to have multiple solid sales comps to just justify your position that the assessment should be lower.  The comps you use should be of sold properties (not just "for sale") that are similar in construction and location.  In other words, actual comps.  (Hint: A Zillow "estimated value" will not work or even be considered.)

Also, the comps should be recent (as near in time as possible to when your property's value was established).  For instance, in my county, the date of valuation is always on the 1st of January.  (That's not when property taxes are due - it's just when the value is established.)  So, regardless of when you file your appeal, your comps should be from around January 1st.  In my county, there is no limitation on how far before that date the comp can be from (though the further away from that date the less likley they are to give it much consideration).  However, there is a limitation on how long after the date of valuation a comp can be from (it has to be within 90 days after the date of valuation and comps after that date, by even one day, will not be considered).  So know these dates if your county also has them.

In summary, use accurate/recent sales comps and you should be fine. 

Thanks.  Good information.

I'm in Texas, so I'm not sure how the procedures stack up, but here are my observations. First, the appeals process where I'm at is very random because its made up of volunteers.  You don't know who's on your panel or what they are looking for.  It's really a crapshoot as to what they really need/want to see.  Second, because it's a crapshoot,  I always bring (1) real comps; (2) pictures (because everyone loves pictures); and (3) repair estimates.  You never know what's going to get their attention. Third, know the date range for comps.  In my area, we can go back two years.  Fourth, wear a suit.  You'd be surprised how much more respect you get with this.  Most people show up looking pretty slovenly and you will stand out if you make this little extra effort.  

Where I'm at in Maryland everything is handled by mail.  My suggestion would be to call your county assessment office and speak with someone who handles appeals.  They could give a better idea of what types of documentation are needed.

Having just been through the appeals process myself it was pretty painless, although it was right after a purchase so I had an appraisal which is all that was needed.  As the others mentioned a good set of comps should suffice.

Good luck.

Thank you. The assessment is too high by almost any standard, I just wish I had done this two years ago!

Hi @David Cohen  

Here's the process.  You file the appeal. Defend your numbers and rationale in front of the committee.  If you're not happy with your results, then you can appeal and go in front of the "BoE" Board of Equalization.   Results from there are final and freeze your resulting appraised value for three years.  

There are professional appealers.  The results are good, so I would recommend getting one.  


Pinellas County Florida, St Petersburg city limits, so not your market. I purchased a property from another investor in a market selling for far more $$$ per sqft than I paid. But unlike the higher priced properties, this property, a duplex, was multifamily and sold based more on return, than the SFH in the area based on size.

I was able to negotiate with the property appraiser for a significant (10-15%) reduction in assessed value through the property appraisers office.   Some of this was clearing the assertion that the property appraiser made that the sale was unqualified, ie. not an arms length transaction, which it truly was.

I'm expect much depends on your locale...but here at least...I found the county officials willing to listen to reason.   Even before a formal appeal.   But I did hold that in my back pocket, and would have done so, without the relief offered by the property appraiser.

I have successfully appealed taxes in Fulton county. In preparation, I listed the properties for sale at a price 10% below the assessor's total value. Since this was significantly above fair market value, there were no offers. I submitted this information, along with half a dozen comps (recent sales) prepared by an appraiser. 

Thanks.  On the form for Tax Year, do I put 2015 or 2014?  I'm a little confused on that one.

@David Cohen Like @Rick Baggenstoss  mentioned you can always hire a professional.  I've been working with a real estate attorney that specializes in property tax appeals for 5 years.  She works off of contingency and takes a 50% cut for any savings she gets in an alternate assessment year or 33% for two years if it falls on the assessment year.  I don't pay anything up front and we've had great success across the board.  However she tends only to want commercial or decent size multi-family properties (so it's worth her time).  But now that we give her all of our business she will take on the few single families that we have left in the portfolio.  

However like many others have mentioned, depending on your County the process is doable by yourself if properly researched & put together.  It just depends where you want to  spend your time.  

I'm a licensed agent, let me know if you need comparables to support the lower value when you file the appeal.

Cleveland Suburb in Lake County Ohio. I was able to get my assessment dropped from 138k to 80k but I was lucky and had a purchase price of 75 and an appraisal of 85 that was only 15 months old. Didn't have to submit any comps. They accepted my proposal of 80k over the mail, didn't even have to show up. Great move on my part, saved me about $120 per month on my payment.

@David Cohen  

In my neck of the woods, the best evidence for a lowered property tax value is going to be either 1) a recent arms length sale, or 2) a recent appraisal with testimony from the licensed appraiser.

They typically count the previous two years as "recent" but the law on that likely varies from state to state.


@Chris Winterhalter


Can you tell me how you found your attorney that works from the commission basis? I've been trying to find one in my area and have not been able to get one. 

I spoke with one attorney who said to just appeal directly to the county - so I did through their web site but they denied my request after looking at what ever "they" looked at. They didn't tell me why other than that the recent sales support the appraised value. 

The reason I want/need someone experienced is that I am not experienced at this and would rather not do this with so much that can be missed. Including the time it takes to do this - I just don't have and would rather do what you did in having an attorney handle it.

I'm sure when I submitted to the web site without anything other than describing my case, that I see other homes that are the same make up and year as mind - all in the same developed area. I see others here talk about looking up recent sales back to Jan, which is also our assessment time. I don't know these things, which is why I want an experienced attorney.

I spoke with another BP member who suggested I find someone like you have found to do this but other than the one attorney that said to seek out the county appraiser first, I've not been able to find anyone. I continue to search....

Any help is appreciated....Thank you

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