Assessment appeal services
Your assessment is based on an ad valorem assessment of the property's value. Did you get an unwanted surprise in the mail telling you your taxes are going up? Is your residential or commercial assessment too high?
What steps can you the property owner take? In Maryland a full set of information is provided at the Maryland web site https://sdat.dat.maryland.
To find you 2022 Tax rates: dat.maryland.gov/Documents/statistics/TaxRates_2022-2023.pdf
To calculate tax, divide the FCV assessment by $100 times the Real Property Tax Rate (Municipality + County + State)
Question: My property value jumped from $565,500 to $782,100, that is a big jump. How can I find out other appraised values in my area? How can I find our what my neighbor's properties sold for? I would like to argue this assessment. The total new FCV value will be phased in over three years so your taxes will increase every year, and in the next reassessment they will start with the new higher value and increase from there. Dollars taken off your assessment today will save year after year of your future.
The assessment office is supposed to use properties similar to yours that have been sold over the prior 3 years. So when you look for sales, go back three years. Using the Real Property pages, look at nearby streets, and do the search for sold houses within the dates going back three years. The house most like yours, that sold 3 years ago may be the best one to argue for the lower value. One Sale does not make a market, but it helps prove a point when arguing the value down.
How to Start.
1. Write to the assessment office and tell them you plan to appeal. Ask for your property worksheet, ( a report which gives details about your property) and ask for a list of the comparable sales that they used to determine the value of your property. You can go to the assessment office in person or they will mail it to you. Keep track of the date of notice you must file the appeal within a limited amount of time, or wait until next year.
Once in appeal, you may ask for copies of the worksheets for all of the sales they used, or all the sales you found that they did not use, but they may charge you a dollar per worksheet.
You might also call your favorite Real Estate sales person and ask them to run a report with photographs of all the sales, so you have pictures inside and out of each comparable property they used and the ones you found.
On the Assessment Worksheet: Look carefully at their description of your property. Sometimes the Assessment Office has an error, and this may be a reason to lower the value.
Look at the comparable sales they have used, drive by the sales, and see how they compare with your house. Ask the new owner the condition when they purchased the property and determine if their property, the comparable, is better than yours. If so, you may have grounds for a tax appeal. During this process you would want to use the MLS data you get from a Realtor.
2. There are several mapping programs that will help you find your house, and houses that have sold recently near you. The assessment office might not use the best comparable sales, so more research is worthwhile.
go to this site, it is a map of Maryland by the Maryland Office of Planning, zoom to your property (use the roller wheel on your mouse). In the upper right open the layer list, turn on property sales, go down and turn on property boundaries. Click on your property with the mouse. A pop up should open, and if you click on the More Info button a page should open with your property description on it. On the map of all the properties you should see an orange dot on houses that have sold in the last year. Click on or next to the dot and the tax assessment worksheet for that property will open up. It will tell you the information on the units, the size, and will give you a sale price and date of sale. Some of these will be interfamily transfers with no price, skip them. The assessor goes back three years for tax assessment. These dots only give you the last year of sales, but if a house down the street from you sold for less, it may mean that your property is over priced. Go see the properties, ask the owner about the sale, take a picture. This information will help you argue for a lower property value, or may show you that the assessor is correct, and perhaps your property value has gone up. You can click on each property to find out if it sold, but for this the RealProperty Sales search may be of more help.
3. Search for all sales. https://sdat.dat.maryland.
in the first box, select County: Queen Anne's; 2nd box select property sales: then click continue.
top line change the year from 2018 to 2015, to go back 3 years.
Your worksheet in #2 above will tell you your subdivision, if there is one, type that in the subdivision block.
click continue (if you do not limit the search it will give you all the properties in the whole County, try putting in the town, zip code or some other limiter as provided by the form)
it will list all the sales in that subdivision, click on the date line for additional data on each sale.
you will want to figure out which properties are the most similar: The worksheets for the properties gives you some information, next you want to go by the properties
look at them, ask the owner about the sale, and about his property. Tell him you are trying to lower your taxes, he might be helpful. Ask who his real estate agent was and perhaps the agent will have additional data. Call on your favorite real estate agent and ask for a comparable sales search for your property. Check Zillow, although at this time the assessor may not accept the zestimate.
You might also want to look at the other subdivisions, go to step 2 and click on other subdivision properties and look at their tax info, and their subdivision # to get a list of their sales.
If you decide to appeal, it would not hurt to go to those sales that make sense, take a picture of the unit, and ask the owner about the sale.
There are several stages of the tax appeal.
The first stage: you can go see the assessor, have a phone interview or send data to him to review. This is your opportunity to point out errors in his information on your property, an opportunity to point out better sales that he should have used, and opportunity to demonstrate that he placed most of his weight on the wrong properties. Pictures of the sales and of your house and why your house is inferior will help your case.
The second stage is before the property review board. Show them the facts, stick to the facts of the case. This is a somewhat friendly meeting with members of the community who pay taxes. Understand that over the days of listening to appeals, they need facts, not arguments. In some counties they seem to stick with the Assessor, unless you prove the facts.
The third level is before the Tax Court. Might I suggest at this point you want to have a professional appraisal, the appraiser should come to the hearing, and you should have a lawyer at the hearing, there are technical issues that lawyers will argue. You will have the cost of the appraisal, his time in the court and the cost of the attorney. Get figures on the cost to determine if it is worth the cost versus the possible savings. I have some people who have hired me to prove the point, knowing that the cost would be greater than the savings. Also remember, it is a three year valuation, phase in, and so the added tax is 3 years, not just year.
Please note that a Licensed or Certified Appraiser is unbiased and does not falsify information for an end result, higher or lower value. That might not be the case of the assessor who thinks his job is to pay his salary with your house. If your house is older, does not have all the latest and greatest, has peeling paint, broken windows and doors, failing foundation, flooding basement, electric baseboard heat, asbestos siding, no air conditioning, floor furnace, dog or cat smells, it may not be as valuable as the staged house that sold up the street. If this is the case, your appraiser can help you prove where your property value falls in your local market.
There are companies that will help you lower your taxes for a percentage of the savings over the three years. They may not take the case if they are not sure they will win or you may need to pay them to help lower the value.
You can have an appraiser help you from the beginning, to look up the data, and evaluate the information, an appraiser can appraise your property, but for assessment appeal purposed they need include the full three years of sales. The appraisal for assessment argument should be more in depth than for a bank, especially if it is going to tax court, so it will cost more for the appraisal plus the hourly rate for the appeal.
An appraisal for tax appeal requires more time than the typical appraisal because in addition to an appraisal of your property, it will look back at sales for three years, the appraiser must review the Assessor's data, determine if they are wrong, and be able to prove it, as well as spending time preparing you and your attorney, plus time in the hearings.
All this research is what appraisers do. Have fun. Good luck with your appeal.