Essential Guide: How to Fight Your Home Assessment in 2021
Home values have been going up across the country, causing rising property taxes. As a result, many people have received a home assessment with a much higher value than they were expecting.
That's particularly true in the St. Louis area, where in 2017, one-third of properties increased in assessed value. In 2021 I would expect that to be an even greater percentage.
But that doesn't mean that you're stuck with the initial home assessment that you receive. Here's how to fight your home assessment.
What Is the Assessed Value of a Home?
A home assessment is when a county property assessor decides the assessed value of real estate. That assessed value is then used to calculate your property taxes. The difference between your home value vs. tax assessed value can be significant. Many of the assessed values homeowners receive are determined by a computer – which led to my personal home assessed value increasing more than 50% in 2019 because it fell into a category that doesn’t have many comparable sales. Thankfully, I was successful in correcting the assessed value back down.
Fun fact, homes in St. Louis around 1900 are narrow because at that time your real estate taxes were calculated based on the frontage (or how wide) your lot was.
Have you ever asked, "How do you calculate assessed home value?" The answer can be a little confusing.
The assessment is based on things like the value of your home, the neighborhood, current market conditions, and any other factors the assessor might be considering. In St. Louis, property assessments usually happen every other year on odd years.
How Do You Fight a Home Assessment?
If you believe that your home tax assessment is incorrect, you have options. First, make sure that you read your home assessment carefully and decide whether or not it's worth your time and energy to fight your home assessment. You generally can’t win if you just say you think it’s too high, you need evidence to show why it’s high.
Double-check that you're getting all of the tax breaks that you're entitled to. Sometimes, the data your government has about your home is incorrect. Make sure that they have the right amount of certain types of rooms in your house.
Figuring Out the Home Reassessment Process
Next, you'll have to follow your counties process for fighting the reassessment. You may also have to pay for your own assessment from a professional appraiser, depending on where you live.
Some areas will let you discuss your appraisal in a more informal setting (such as over the phone), while others will demand a more formal discussion. In St. Louis, you'll start by emailing or calling the Assessor's Office with the address of the property you're seeking a reassessment for. You will then need to start seeking evidence.
Evidence could include a sales contract if you have recently purchased the property. An important part of the reassessment is the value of comparable properties. You'll likely need a REALTOR® or an appraiser to help you find properties similar to yours so that you can compare and contrast their assessed property value.
This is especially helpful if you're planning on selling your home since you will probably need a REALTOR® anyway.
If you're looking for an easier strategy, you can check in with your neighbors who have similar properties and see if they are willing to compare tax bills for the easiest option.
If the initial reassessment doesn't turn out the result you want, you can turn to the Board of Equalization for an appeal, however you are generally limited to presenting the same evidence as you did in the initial reassessment hearing – so you have to make sure you are fully prepared upfront. During the appeal, you will present your evidence, the Assessor's Office will present their evidence, and the Board will come to a decision.
If they don't rule in your favor, you can take your appeal to the State Tax Commission. This will be an even more formal hearing.
Get Help Fighting Your Home Assessment Today
Clearly, home assessments can have a big impact on your financial needs, and it can be difficult to get them reassessed. But with the right help, you can make up the difference between your property tax assessment vs. home value.
If you're looking to fight your home assessment in the St. Louis area, we can help. Contact TdD Law for the advice you need to make home ownership easier.