Real Estate category

Appealing Your Tax Assessment: What You Need To Know

June 11, 2012 | Posted by Ken Eisner | No Comments


3 bedroom 2 bath houseUnless you have been hiding under a rock for the past few years [apologies to those of you who enjoy hiding under your rock — hopefully, your rock hasn’t gone up in value], you are well aware of the controversial reassessment of all of the properties in Allegheny County and that the values established will be effective for fiscal year 2013.  The goal of the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review is to determine the fair market value of your property.  Fair market value is what a ready, willing, and able buyer is willing to pay for real estate of a ready, willing, and able seller.


If you purchased your property recently, it is presumed that you paid fair market value.  However, if part of the purchase price included a significant amount of personal property (in other words, your stuff like appliances, light fixtures, window treatments, lawn mowers, etc.), you may be able to contend that the purchase price should be reduced because personal property is not to be included in the valuation.  If you didn’t purchase your property recently, then the best gauge of fair market value is from recent sales of comparable properties, preferably not before 2008.


The best form of evidence to establish fair market value from comparable sales is through an appraisal by a qualified and reputable appraiser.  In many of the appeals that we are handling on behalf of my clients, we have used appraisals.  If it was an informal appeal which gives our clients two bites at the apple (informal and formal appeal), we have often utilized software to which we subscribe that also provides recent sales of comparable properties.  While this software does not permit us to visit each home and therefore is not as precise as an appraisal, it has nonetheless resulted in being credible evidence upon which the Board is considering to make its decisions.  We continue to utilize this software for formal appeals with great success.


As important as considering what to introduce as evidence is what not to introduce.  More often than not, people make the mistake of utilizing comparable properties’ assessments, not purchase prices.  The Board isn’t interested in comparable assessments, only sales.  In other words, this is a losing argument.


If you have filed an appeal and would like my assistance, please do not hesitate to call me.  I handle these cases on a contingency basis, which means that we only get a fee if we save you taxes.

Tags: , , , , ,