HOW TO Reduce Real Estate Taxes

How can you make sure you’re not paying too much real estate tax?

Look over your assessment item by item. Did they get the lot size right? Did they magically assign you a finished basement? Are the number of bedrooms correct?

Secondly, did the assessor give you a value based on your neighbor’s home values? Their property values are public record so you can get them at the assessor’s or county clerk’s office or online.

The best way to get a readjustment is to bring your evidence, preferably photographic, to the assessor and ask for a reevaluation. If he’s unmovable, you can ask for a formal hearing.

The AHA says that 70% of homeowners who find an error and fight to get it fixed end up with a lower tax bill. — BEN POPKEN

How To Reduce Real Estate Taxes [CNN Money via Blueprint for Financial Prosperity]


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  1. Hoss says:

    A word of caution though, pointing out a neighbor’s value could result in a higher evalution for them and no change for yourself. Use comps for several residences in the area. Also, as I think most of us know — you are not required to let an assessor into your home. Only do so if your kitchen looks like it was last updated by Ma and Pa Kettle

  2. rlee says:

    I’m one of the unlucky 30%, then. I discovered the assessment web site for my county listed my house as having an extra bedroom. I pointed this out to them, and was informed that the number of bedrooms did not factor into the assessment — it was just location and size that mattered, apparently.

  3. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    My town recently had a revaluation, and my assessment came in way over what I thought was reasonable. I had just built a modest new 2-bedroom house on the same property that housed my former residence (a 1-room shack).

    The town made provisions for homeowners to meet with the assesors afterwards, so I set up an appointment.

    I was amazed at the incorrect information. The house was listed as a 3-bedroom, but it’s only got 2 (and in my town, that makes a big difference). I pointed out that while I own 5.5 acres, 4 acres of this is swamp/stream/wetlands. At the time, my house had no siding yet, and the assesors had my old house/shack listed as a second rentable apartment, rather than an outbuilding.

    It was clear to me that the assessors had never even set foot on my property because they had “clapboards” listed under “siding type,” and not only did my house not have any siding on it at the time, but I had eventually chosen to put cedar shingles on rather than clapboards.

    To make a long story short, they ended up taking $70,000 off the original assessment, which amounts to $1100 a year in taxes I don’t have to pay.

    Clearly, in this case, the assessment company just looked at the town records, septic permit (which IS rated for 3-bedrooms), and building permit (which had listed the wrong siding type)..and didn’t even bother coming out to the house! I’m sure their reasoning is “assess high” and if the homeowner doesn’t say anything, then the original assessment sticks.

  4. Keter says:

    I bought a serious fixer-upper 5 years ago, and I’m still working on it, so it can’t be sold…the house is actually the least of my tax issue. My problem is the lot, which is in a high-dollar area near a lake.

    The lot across the street from me is 3X larger and nicely flat, so it never floods. It’s assessed at $40K. I was told it was rated lower due to flooding problems.

    My lot has a collapsed limestone cave on it so about half of it is unusable, receives serious street flooding during heavy rains (runoff from a steep hill), and I don’t have a square inch I could develop further…yet mine is assessed at $120K.

    My next door neighbor’s lot is 2X the size of mine and only minorly affected by the collapsed cave and likewise gets little flooding. Her lot is assessed at $80K.

    I found out during the last protest that my property has been classified as waterfront, when I have a road and a large homeowner’s association park between me and the lake. This is new, and I had no way of finding this out before I got in there. The assessor actuallly told me that if my house was in the lake’s (recently raised) floodplain, that made it waterfront! (B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T.!)

    Each year they are more confrontational…if it ever goes to court, I am going to use this last year’s transcript entered into the record because I was actually cursed at by one of the assessors; I bring in good evidence but they ignore it. It would cost me $500 to go to “arbitration” to challenge the assessment, which I’m sure will be fixed in the county’s favor.

    This year, if I can afford it, I think I will hire a lawyer to go with me. My assessment is fully 1/3 more than what the property is worth, and goes up about $25K every year. At this rate, I will have to sell soon because I won’t be able to afford the taxes. If this happens, I can forget about ever owning anything nice again.