Dana L. Grover Associates
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Free Assessment Appeals
County Assessor Offices have a free assessment appeal service for property owners who feel that their assessment is incorrect. Dana L. Grover Associates encourages home owners to use this free service first before hiring an independent appraiser in assisting with the appeal process. Below are links to the local County Assessor websites:
Assessment appeal services
Most localities determine your property tax burden based on an ad valorem assessment of the property's value. Sometimes, as a property owner, you get an unwanted surprise in the mail telling you your taxes are going up, and sometimes it may seem as though your assessment is too high.
In California properties are assessed in accordance with Proposition 13 which mandates that assessed values be 1% of their market values, and that the assessment cannot increase by more than 2% per year. When a property sells, its price is generally its market value, and the Assessor will usually use the price to determine the assessment. However, price does not always equal market value. For instance when a property is a "good buy" it's price may be less than market value, and the Assessor will assess it for a higher amount, its market value. Conversely, a buyer may over pay for a property, and its assessment should be lower than an assessment based upon the price.
There are as many different procedures for appealing assessments as there are property taxing districts, so it's important to enlist the help of a professional appraisal firm that's experienced and trained in the ins and outs of your particular jurisdiction.
Please note: It makes sense to do your own research before determining whether to go forward with a property assessment appeal, especially before you make the decision to hire a professional appraiser. However, according to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), appraisers are not allowed to take "shortcuts" -- i.e., your research -- and use it on its face as part of an independent evaluation. When you hire a professional appraiser for an assessment appeal, you are commissioning an independent, third-party professional appraisal report. As such an appraiser will do his or her own evaluation, beginning to end. If you are right that your property has been overvalued, an independent report by a professional appraiser will be more persuasive than any other evidence, including a list of "comps," without any analysis, provided by a real estate agent, or other data you can marshal on your own.
Presently I am no longer able to provide appraisals for assessment appeals because I have been appointed Value Hearing Officer for such appeals in Santa Clara County. It would be a conflict of interest for me to provide appraisals for this purpose any longer. As a Value Hearing Officer my duties include looking at the evidence presented by the Assessor and by the homeowner/taxpayer in a public hearing to persuade me that the Assessor's opinion of market value is incorrect. The Assessor will always present an appraisal as evidence, and the best evidence an appellant can present to refute the Assessor's opinion is an appraisal report by a qualified, professional real estate appraiser. I recommend the appellant to obtain the services of an appraiser with a designation from the Appraisal Institute. You can search for a designated appraiser at this link: http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/findappraiser/default.aspx.