So You Want To Lower Your Property Taxes?

 by: Mike Armentrout

With record setting prices in real estate, it's easy to understand why sellers are smiling.  On the other hand, if you just received a letter from the County Auditor increasing your assessed value, you may not be as happy.

The State of Ohio requires all eighty eight County Auditors to complete updated appraisals on all properties every six years.  This update will likely reflect the upward swing in real estate prices, and that can mean significant tax increases. This is often unwanted news for the retired and those on fixed incomes. 

If you believe that your property may be over-valued by your county, you do have some options.  There may be a local hearing in your area where you can challenge any glaring deficiencies in the County's assessment.  If that is not an option you can file a complaint with the Board of Revision (BOR).  Your Auditor's office can direct you to the appropriate form(s) to complete. If you choose to proceed, they will recommend that you have an appraisal completed by a State Licensed/Certified Appraiser. 

If you opt to get an appraisal, here are some things to remember;

Make sure the appraisal will not cost more than the tax savings
If an appraisal does support a lower value and the BOR agrees to lower the assessed value, will the reduction in tax liability be more than the cost of the appraisal?  It will likely need to be a large reduction to offset the appraisal fee.

An appraisal may come back with a similar or higher value
It is important to understand that the primary job of a real estate appraiser is to develop a fair market value.  This is based on the most probable sales price for your property in an open and competitive market.  The appraiser cannot misrepresent market data to arrive at a predetermined value.

The BOR exist to give voice to taxpayers
Having been to many BOR hearings, I can honestly say that most members will be fair and reasonable. Most of the objections will likely be from the School District representative as they have the most to lose.  This is because the largest percentage of property taxes go to public school funding. 

The county may have errors regarding your property features
I recently did an appraisal for a possible BOR complaint that resulted in an appraisal value that was close to the assessed value.  We did however note that the county had the subject's size miscalculated.  The homeowner took our findings on the square footage to the Auditor and they revised their property data which resulted in a $47,000 reduction in assessed value.