One thing that sometimes scares people away from appealing their assessed property value is the prospect of attending a hearing. They picture a full court hearing with a judge pointing his gavel at you and throwing a barrage of questions meant to make you crumble under the pressure.
The truth isn’t quite so intimidating.
An assessment appeal hearing is a much less formal affair than you probably think. Anyone who has contested a traffic ticket will have had a similar experience. You’ll be in a court room with a group of other people waiting to have their appeal heard. Your name will be called and about 15 minutes later, it will be over. You’ll be surprised how quickly it goes.
Prior to your hearing, you should request the assessor’s comparable homes that they’ll use in your case. If you are a ValueAppeal customer, you’ll have access to our handy Comparative Analysis tool. By entering the assessor’s comparables, you’ll generate a report that will tell you what might make them poor comparables. It could be that the homes are several miles away, sold outside the allowable window, sold for less than your home’s assessed value. This will give you some vital talking points to bring into your hearing.
On the day of your hearing, bring copies of your comparable sale evidence with you. You’ll distribute that evidence to the hearing board. You may make some notes for yourself detailing the important facts about each home to point out. The assessor will in turn present his comparable evidence to the board.
The board may ask you some questions, but it won’t be a Judge Judy-style grilling. They may ask you why you think your home is overassessed. They might ask which of your comparables best illustrates your case. They might ask what you looked for in getting your comparable homes.
Ultimately, though, your appeal should come down to the data presented. Those are the facts, and if you’ve used ValueAppeal, that means you have strong evidence to lower your appeal. We only help about 25 percent of homeowners who visit our website, so if you were able to purchase our product, you should feel confident that you have a strong case.
Another useful thing to keep in mind is that many appeals don’t end up going to a hearing. Assessors don’t like going to hearings just as much as you don’t, and if presented with solid evidence, they will often negotiate a settlement with a homeowner rather than go to a hearing. Recently we’ve seen a large number of our New Jersey customers reporting that their assessor has simply made an offer and the appeal has successfully ended there, with no hearing required.
But, if you do end up going to a hearing, be confident. Don’t be intimidated by the surroundings, the assessor or the board. If you’ve used ValueAppeal, your evidence is strong. And if you’d like talking points or have questions about the appeal, never hesitate to call. We’re here to support you from the time you contact us to the completion of your case and will do everything we can to help you get a positive result.
One of those clients who did avoid a hearing was Robert, a client in Pleasantville. He received a mailer from us and immediately assumed it must be a scam. But when he received a follow-up letter from us, he decided to check us out. Here’s what happened next:
“I called ValueAppeal’s office and talked to them. I was satisfied they knew what to do and could help me, so I used the service. ValueAppeal supplied me with information on how the appeal process works, how to file an appeal, sent me the needed forms and let me know where to send them. They also supplied me with a list of homes in my area and the prices they sold for. I filed my appeal and about two weeks later I received a letter from the city offering to reduce my value by $15,000! ValueAppeal was very friendly and helped me on everything I asked of them.”
Thanks for letting us know, Robert! If you have questions about the appeal process, an upcoming hearing or would like our help in saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars off of your tax bill, give us a call at 877-829-1277.