Why are my property taxes so high?
This is a question I often hear. Although many people feel that they can't do anything about it, but that might not be the case.
First, what makes your taxes go up? Your taxes are based on a mathematical formula that starts with the assessed value of your property, including the land and all improvements. The assessed value may not equal the market value, but it should bear a relationship to it. Your local tax rate is applied to the assessed value to reach your annual property tax.
Your property taxes might go up when you make certain improvements, particularly those for which a building permit is required. Improvements that require permits include such things as altering the footprint of the house, changes to the roofline, adding new windows or doors, demolishing a load-bearing wall, moving a sink, adding new electrical wiring, adding a wood deck, building a shed - especially with a concrete floor.
Sometimes simply having a large dumpster in front of your home can trigger a reassessment, but hopefully the improvements you make are ones that make your home more valuable to you, so that a slight rise in your property taxes will be well worth it.
Now for the good news! It is estimated that somewhere between 30-50% of assessments are inaccurate. This may be because of the reduction in your property value due to the economy, but many are simply due to inaccurate information. It might be outdated or the result of typographical error.
You can contact your assessor's office and ask for a copy of the sheet on which your property is described and which forms the basis for your assessed value. Check to make sure that the proper amount of baths and bedrooms are listed, that the square footage of the house and the lot are right, and any other features are correctly described.
It is easy for a clerk to make a typing error once in awhile and type 5 bedrooms instead of 3 or similar slips. After all, all of us make a typo once in awhile too.
It is a sad fact that even though up to one-half of the assessments are wrong, only about 5% of homeowners ever challenge them. If you feel your assessment is wrong, challenge it! You can file an appeal, which is a complaint presented with comparative sales in the area (as close to your own home in location, size and amenities as possible).
These should be sales that occurred no more than 6 months ago if possible, although you might have to go up to a year back if there have been few sales in your area. Be ready to explain why you believe your assessment is too high. Your county will likely have complaint forms for you to use.
Broker / Realtor
Century 21 Noel David Realty
Fair Oaks, California
Full time real estate services in Fair Oaks CA,
with friendly professionalism, 30+ years experience.
I work hard to give my buyer or seller a low-stress transaction.
"Happy clients make me happy."
For all your real estate needs or questions, call me at (916)705-8951or visit my website at www.SusanNealFineProperties.com.