Real Estate Taxes lowered?

15 Replies

Has anyone had their real estate taxes lowered?  How did you do it? I would like to hear any success stories?

I did. I own a trashed, REO mobile home on 20 acres. The county had assessed it when it was installed in 1993 & not since. They assumed it was maintained, etc. & sent out the tax bill to reflect that. About $830, if I remember right.

When the tax bill came, I paid the first half of the amount "under protest" & filed a form stating I objected to the amount (very easy) & was assigned a hearing date. I made up a printed presentation with photos showing the condition of the property (uninhabitable) during the tax year in question. I also included a map showing why part of the acreage was not usable for agricultural use, which was part of the previous assessment. That would only be important out here in the sticks, but hey, it's all money.

I went in, showed my pictures, explained the overall nastiness of the place & asked that it be reviewed. Took about 10 minutes. 

A couple of weeks later I got a revised tax bill for the second half of the year. Total for the year: about $460.

The entire process was very simple.  I'd say be polite, follow the guidelines to a "T" & be prepared - make it easy for the assessors! Granted, this is a little town, but to get your place re-evaluated is free & you may come out ahead.

@Alan Charles  They may have some tax relief programs in your city. Baltimore has these types of programs but many are for owner occupied homes.  Read the guidelines carefully before you apply. 

If it's a new purchase you can call the tax assessor and provide them with your closing papers. 

@Alan Charles, jurisdictions vary in their criteria and procedures for lowering property taxes. Baltimore has a specific set of steps you can use to challenge a tax assessment, whether you are a homeowner or an investor. I'm petitioning for a reassessment of a rental house in Baltimore as we speak (OK, type). Baltimore homeowners, however, can obtain a homestead exemption lowering their property assessment, and thereby the tax they must pay. This exemption is not available to investors. 

I have no clue what the rules are in Atlanta, however, and wouldn't presume to advise you.

My suggestion would be to seek out local investors. If Atlanta does not post something on their city government website, and you do not know of anyone to ask in your community, perhaps look for some Atlanta-based investors in the amazing orbit of Bigger Pockets.

Best of luck in your efforts.

I did it once many years ago on my personal residence in the city limits.  I completed a spreadsheet of houses on my street with their assessments and any increase/decrease. I compared the condition of mine to the others. 

Basically,  the reduction request was denied  3 times and each time  I asked for an appeal. The last appeal was before a board of citizens and I was so over it I didn't even go to the hearing, but they granted a reduction anyway.  It was so long ago and I was a college student in my first home. I'm not sure if they gave me a reduction because I made good arguments or just because I was persistent. 

ah, this is a sore topic for me.

i made spreadsheets like @Heather W. . but didn't help. my house appraises at around 125, but the city estimates at around 100. they said "we compare REO rentals not how it looks when you buy them, but as if they are fixed up".

i spoke to 2 tax attorneys and they said "you have no case" and want retainers before we even start. or they want appraisals on all homes, which will cost me around $4,500. it's interesting that the attorneys didn't want to take this on because that's what they do day in and day out anyway..

I've heard good things about Ernie Cole from Equitax Property here in Atlanta for challenging assessments, but I've never used him personally. 

I've gotten the property taxes lowered on both a duplex and SFH that I own.

When the tax appraiser sends out the new appraised value in the mail, there is an option on the form to protest the appraised value. Here is an example of the form: http://www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/taxforms/50-...   I look on the appraiser's website for similar houses on the same street or nearby and see what they are appraised for. After sending the protest form in, we first schedule an informal meeting with the appraiser responsible for the area of the county the property is in. This phone call is where you present your reasoning or evidence on why the appraised value should be lowered. I spoke with two different people for my two properties as they are in two separate areas in the county, and both were very friendly and helpful. I was able to drop the appraised value on a duplex I own about $12,000, and on a short sale I purchased it was appraised at $136,000 and I got that down to ~$96,000 because I mentioned that it had a lot of work that was needed. 

When you agree to a new appraised price they will mail you a form saying that you waive your right to formally protest and the property will be appraised at the price that was agreed to over the phone. If you end up not agreeing over the phone then you can attend a formal hearing, but I have not done that.

The above is the process for my county in Texas. You should call your county's appraisal office or look on their website to see how you can protest property taxes in your county.

I have several times. I think it totally depends on the county you are in as far as how it works and when the windows are open where they take appeals. Should be easy to get it lowered if you recently bought the place for less than assessed value, you just need a copy of the HUD. I have gotten lowered by showing recent sales for less, and showing other houses are assessed for less. The Zillow website and MLS access makes this all easier. If you own via LLC you may need an attorney to do it. However, I would NOT not pay the tax bill, unless you know for sure you can in your area without penalties and such.

I have been successful in Texas using the method Matt mentioned and also just going to the Appraisal District offices after purchase.  Be sure you are doing this for a property your intend to hold for a while.  If you get $20k to $50k knocked off the appraised value this can come back to bite you when you try to sell at a premium in a year or two because most buyers will at least look at the appraised value and if they see it is way off from the price you are asking question why you want so much.  I know I do.

In my county in Ohio, the Board of Revision handles property tax revaluation cases. The name has a very "1984" sound to it. I've had very good success getting tax assessments reduced to the purchase amount. They are primarily concerned about the valuation/condition of the property on January 1 of the previous year, not the current condition. 

I challenged the assessment of my personal home and got it reduces 30K. I challenged on of my rental properties in Baltimore City and they didn't move it a penny even though they incorrectly has it listed as a 2 bedroom when it was a 1 bedroom. 

I've got a few dollars knocked off assessed value on my personal residence by putting together some $sqft comps based on recent sales and talking it out on the phone.

The last two rentals I've bought we're roughed up and all the county required was the HUD-1 for an adjustment - for 2015, of course :). So we'll see how true to their word they are next year.

I've challenged 3 of my assessments and have gotten 2 knocked down (3rd is still pending but i'm sure it will be knocked down). 2 of them I luckily had recent appraisals done that I could use to challenge. One I got knocked down over 50% and the one pending i expect to be dropped by 80%. It's sad cause I look at all my neighbors properties and they're getting ripped off by paying these unreasonable assessments.

I bought my personal residence here in CA in 2006, $529,000,  just before everything crashed. A year or two later I filled a form with The Los Angels County Tax Assessor based on the lowered property value due to the crash. All I had to do was print the form, fill it out and mail it in... Very easy. They reduced my value down to $280,000 saving me almost $3000 a year.

Definitely look into what the area you are in has to offer.

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