This is a challenging year for the Tax assessors office as they are under incredible pressure by homeowners who look for assessed home values to follow market values. In the past assessed valued have typically trailed market values by 10% or so. Today we are seeing the opposite as market values are now below assessment values.
As you may be working with home buyers identifying great opportunities one of the challenges is to properly quote payments and provide accurate expectations. I have seen purchase contracts in the 70k - 80k range with property taxes in the $2,500 - $3,000 range. Typically this home price range would have property taxes in the $900 - $1,200 range. Obviously this is going to impact the payment for the home and going to affect pre approval price ranges. One solution we are providing is to always quote accurate payments based on actual property taxes. On the PCM website we have posted a link on the Home Loan Toolbox page for property taxes across the United States(scroll toward the bottom of the page).
One statement that many buyers are told is that the property taxes should go down in the next year. I understand that this might seem like a realistic expectation but there is no way to guarantee this to the buyer. However recent legislation is empowering homeowners with more options than before. Senate Bill 240 changes this - assessments must now be fair or a property owner can take a professional appraisal straight to an arbitrator and receive a lower, true fair market valuation. Some highlights to the legislation is the following
- The appeal must be filed within 45 days of the mailing - Taxpayer will provide an appraisal dated with 30 days of appeal - Board of Assessors has 30 days to review to accept - if not - Information will go to clerk of superior court and arbitrator will be assigned in 15 days - Arbitrator has 30 days to set appointment and 30 days to render decision - **The Board of Assessors has the burden of proving value - Whichever party loses they shall pay the cost of the arbitration
As you are working with clients this information should help to set the right expectation and provide the most up to information so they can make the proper decision.
Sort of an interesting proposition above as if the county loses the arbitration we all still lose because our tax dollars continue to pay the bill. Hopefully there will not be big issues as the Assessor office is able to deal with the appeals efficiently. In March we sent out an appeal message for homeowners to take action early. I sent in an appeal before the assessments came out and just received my new value. Very pleased with the results and don't need to go further.
There is now way to get out of paying - sure your value may be lowered but the next question is when will your millage rate may go up. Time will tell.