CHICAGO, IL – March 21, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — Homeowners who are considering property tax appeals should be prepared with all the necessary information, the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers said today.
As many U.S. homeowners begin receiving their local property tax bills, the Appraisal Institute offered suggestions to make the appeal process easier, particularly in working with assessors.
“Don’t assume that the assessor is out to get the property owner,” said Appraisal Institute President Richard L. Borges II, MAI, SRA. “In a perfect world, the assessed value of a particular property would match market value if that is the regulatory intent of the particular jurisdiction’s property assessment law. But assessors aren’t able to look at each property individually every year as an appraiser might for mortgage financing, employee relocation, or other single-property appraisal assignments.”
In most situations, the assessment process uses a value model to produce what is called a mass appraisal for a universe of properties, which is typically many. This differs from an individual appraisal, such as one performed for a lender, which focuses only on a particular property. Sometimes the assessor’s value is higher than market value, while in other cases the assessor’s value is lower than market value.
Borges said homeowners should consider having an independent appraisal prepared and present the appraisal report to the assessor because appraisers are third-party experts who provide credible, reliable opinions of value. Also, he noted, many appraisers collaborate with property tax consultants and attorneys who specialize in tax appeal matters, which could provide the best opportunity for a property owner to increase the chances of a successful tax appeal.
There can be different stages of tax appeals based on the municipality, and Borges suggested that homeowners check with their assessor’s office or a local appraiser who can provide expertise. An experienced local appraiser can also shed light on the local appeals process, he said; however, this does not mean that appraisers should advocate an unreasonably low value for their clients because this would be an ethical violation. Appraisers are to act in an independent, objective and impartial manner, and advocate only for their expertly developed value opinions.
“Assessors’ offices generally have become more precise due to their use of technology that allows them to gain access to the same data as a property owner, appraiser, tax appeal consultant or attorney,” Borges said. “However, differences of opinion can arise over how the data is used. That’s why it’s typically best to start with an appraisal.”
He noted that consumers should keep in mind that assessors are usually adept at spotting faulty valuations and “hired guns” who provide values that appear to be unreasonably low. That is why it is very important to choose an appraiser whose work not only conforms to accepted industry standards, but to a strict code of ethics such as the one governing the actions of Appraisal Institute Designated members, he said.
“Homeowners should be sure to hire a highly competent, well qualified appraiser, such as a Designated member of the Appraisal Institute,” Borges said.