Taxes are part of life in a civil society and Property Taxes are usually in that mix. BUT, there’s a couple things most people don’t seem to know that could cost them money on even their vacant land. Your tax bill is based upon the County’s assessed value of your property. The higher the assessed value, the higher your taxes. How do they determine your property’s assessed value? Well, it sure isn’t how a mortgage company would determine a property’s value before crunching the numbers on a mortgage. That’s expensive and the County simply can’t be that thorough. The most recent sale price, any property modifications and adjustments for county averages are a part of the County Calculus. What this means is that the assessed value can be off – WAY off. And you could be paying more than your fair share as a consequence.
Did you know that most counties have a way of contesting the assessed value of your property? The first step, before calling the County, would be to study the assessed value of comparable properties nearby. Find a number of nearby properties on a website like ParcelQuest (you may have to pay a bit for a subscription) or go directly to the County for their records. You may find that your assessed value is right in line with others – in which case there may not be much to do. You may find your figure is low in which case you can count yourself lucky. But if your county assessed value is too high, gather that data and use that as part of the case you will make to the Assessor’s Office.
Case in point: I recently acquired a property that in 2006 sold for $60,000. Before the big downturn. Today the county assessed value is still $60,000. Property taxes are $1400 annually. I purchased the property for a very slim percentage of what the previous owners paid for it – Hey, it’s what I do! Since 2006 they have been paying the big bucks into the county coffers – doing more than their fair share to keep the roads in good order and the lights on in the schools. They didn’t know there was something they could do about it. A quick study of comparable properties assessed values showed that properties twice their size had half the assessed value. Since I paid next to nothing for the property that SHOULD trigger the county to drop their assessed value to a reasonable level. But am I going to wait and hope that they will? No, of course not. I am currently working to ensure that the assessed value of this parcel is brought down to reasonable level. This will help me sell the property as well so that the Clear Skies buyer doesn’t get stuck paying more than their fair share.
Every County is different and for some this will be harder or easier, but it costs you little to try. Good luck, and may Clear Skies be yours.