Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Property Tax Board of Review

For the past two days, I’ve been serving as a member of the Board of Review (BOR) for Lodi Township. For each of the past ten years, I’ve served the Township on the BOR on the second Monday and Tuesday of March.

The Lodi BOR consists of three members – all residents of Lodi township - myself, and two others. Until this year, one of our Board members was a long-time farmer in the township. Sadly, he passed away last year, and we missed him greatly at the BOR meetings this year. He was replaced this year by a real estate appraiser who lives in the township. Our third member is an attorney who specializes in commercial real estate. I bring “market knowledge” to the BOR. Working with these other BOR members has been a pleasure.

The function of the BOR is to hear resident’s appeals of the assessed and taxable value of their real property. Most of those who appeal are not “experts” in property value, nor are they expected to be. Many of them bring a passionate voice to their appeal. What we look for is evidence which supports the value that they place on their property. Sadly, most bring no supporting evidence, so they are less than successful in their appeal.

So, what would I like to see as a BOR member?

Ideally, I would like to see a fee-paid appraisal of the resident’s property, which supports their claim of value (presumably MUCH lower than the assessor’s claim of value). The cost of having an appraisal of your property begins at $350 and goes up from there, so most residents don’t go that far with their appeal.

Short of a fee-paid appraisal, I’d like to see a presentation of comparable properties to the resident’s own property. These comparables can come from a Realtor®, or from the resident’s own research – either on the internet, or directly at the Township offices. I know, I know, it’s very surprising to think that you could do research at the Township (or City) offices. The assessor WON’T bite your head off! Really! Most assessors enjoy discussing their work with residents.

So what kind of data should you get? By definition, a “comparable” property to yours would be a home of similar size, style, age, and location. Ideally, other homes like yours in the same subdivision will support your argument the best. If you have a 2-story home, and you bring only ranch homes as comparables, you have little chance of success. If you have a ranch, and you bring 3, 4, or 5 other similar ranch homes like yours, you have an excellent chance of successful appeal.

What if there are no recent sales of comparable properties? This is becoming a more frequent occurrence, as the number of home sales declines in our region. In this case, look for comparable properties which are currently offered for sale. If the asking price of the homes for sale is less than your taxable value, you have a strong argument in your favor.

I’d be happy to help you with your determination of value for your home in preparation for your Board or Review. I’m not a licensed appraiser, so I cannot offer you a “fee-paid” appraisal. What I can offer is an experienced opinion on your likelihood of success in your appeal. Call or write me.

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