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Examine your property tax record at the local assessor's office. Look for errors in the property description, such as incorrect age, square footage, improvement history and number of rooms. While you're there, check the valuation of comparable homes in your area, especially homes sold recently.
Consider factors that affect the value of your home. Did you engage in a bidding war that inflated the sale price above the real value? Are there drainage problems on your lot or in your area? Is your home in a designated flood plain? Are you closer to a commercial area or other negative feature than most homes with comparable value? Do the math if you've owned your home for a few years. Many states put a cap on how much the property assessment can rise each year. Make sure your home has not exceeded that annual limit.
Enlist the help of a local real estate professional. To make an appeal based on reduced selling prices in your area, you'll need several examples of comparable homes which have sold or are in escrow at prices lower than your assessment. You may pay a small fee for this help, but it may be worth it to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars
a year in tax. It may also be useful to get a new independent appraisal if prices have dropped substantially in your area. Be sure to point out any problems you're aware of to the appraiser.
Try to arrange for an informal meeting with the assessor before filing an appeal. While she may not have the authority to lower your assessment on the spot, you can get a good indication if your case has merit. Even if she disagrees, you can get an indication of what points you need to strengthen when arguing your case. When you file the appeal, be sure to have all your evidence in a clear, easy to follow format and get pictures and other visuals to help illustrate your position. Be sure you know the deadlines for appeal. It's often as short as 60 days after you receive your annual property tax bill.
Take your appeal to the next level if you lose the initial hearing. Your next step is probably a state board. Often, when it's clear you won't give up easily, you'll get a compromise offer to settle the case before it goes as far as a lawsuit. At this point you may need to hire an attorney on a contingency fee basis to help you win.