How To Fight Your Assessment To Lower Your Taxes

May is Grievance Month In  New York State

You’ve opened your mail to find a fun surprise from your local assessor: a new assessment on your property. One that’s significantly higher than last year. You may be wondering how this happens. How will it affect your tax bill? What can you do about it?

The first step is understanding what exactly an assessment is. The Assessed Market Value is the value of the property based on recent sales of comparable homes. The assessor looks at what they know about your house from the public record, the certificate of occupancy, the assessors inventory sheet, building permits, plans and specs (if any), and, in some cases, an exterior drive-by of your home.  You may have noticed the problem with the assessor's appraisal of the property: they don't go into your home. They don't know the condition of the property - and they don’t know the condition of the comparable sales they used either. Assessors also use comparable sales from their town only, which may not be applicable to homes on the borders between towns. In addition, the comparable sales may be up to 3 years old. The bottom line: the assessed value of a property is not always the most accurate measure of value.

To determine the market value of your property, you need an appraisal from a certified or licensed appraiser or a broker price opinion from a real estate agent. An appraisal is an opinion of value based on comparable sales that are most similar to the subject property.  In New York, an appraisal that is done for the purpose of determining market value for assessment needs to have an effective date of July 1 of the previous year. Your state’s effective date may vary.

If the appraisal on your home is lower than the assessor's assessed value, you can grieve your assessment. To grieve your assessment, contact your local assessor's office and let them know you have an appraisal that is different than the assessed value. They will ask you to submit that as evidence to them along with other forms that each town may have for this processes. Some assessors will offer a lower assessment based on the appraisal provided, and some may stick to their guns about their estimate of value.  If the assessor won't budge, and you feel that you are over-assessed, you can go to Grievance Day. Grievance Day is usually in late May (check with your town for the exact date). At Grievance Day, you can make a verbal appeal to the assessor (and sometimes a board) that will either accept or reject your appeal. If you still aren't successful at Grievance Day, an attorney can sue the town to accept your appraised value. This may be worth it depending upon the discrepancy between the their value and yours.

If you need more help on this, you can call a local licensed or certified appraiser or search our database for a local real estate broker who can help you with the grievance process.