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leftAssessment 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, navigating the site takes practice. You can figure it out.

Question: My property value jumped from $139,500 to $155,700, that is a big jump. How can I find out other appraised values in my area? I would like to argue this assessment.

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. 

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.

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.

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 it 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.

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. 

There are also companies that will help you lower your taxes  for a percentage of the savings over the three years.

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 they also need to understand 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 court.

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.