Assessment Appeal

Commercial and residential property owners are still feeling the effects of reassessment projects years after the change in assessment roll. Municipal wide reassessments assign new assessed values. In this care typically all or many of the assessed values increase, and many increase significantly. Many of the reassessment projects occurred prior to the economic decline and include market data heavily based around sales which occurred during this time period. Your property may have been equitably assessed 10 years ago but today may be over assessed for any number of reasons.

Moving forward, prospective buyers should be mindful of the tax implications associated with purchasing a property. If the purchase price markedly exceeds the level of assessment, an assessment increase is almost certain to follow.

Whether you are a property owner who may be over-assessed, or find yourself in a municipality where a reassessment project is coming your way, Lester Appraisal can help you with all assessment matters. Keep reading for information about Lester Appraisal, the appeal process, preparing a strong case, and frequently asked questions.

The assessment appeal process:

The assessment appeal process typically consists of a few primary steps: 

1. Filing the appeal. All assessment appeals must be filed within the designated time frame set forth by the municipality. The window in which appeals can or should be filed typically runs from the first business day in January through the end of March depending on the municipality. Firm time constraints due exist and vary by the municipality. It is important to know and understand what these time frames and deadlines mean.

2. Meeting with Assessor. Once an appeal is filed, a meeting is scheduled between the property owner or duly authorized property owner representative and the local Assessor. Formal meetings are typically scheduled during the municipalities Assessor's Office hours. This meeting is an opportunity for the property owner or representative to present evidence and support of a lower value. If amicable resolution is reached with the meeting with the respective Assessor, documentation is mailed, advising the interested parties of the change in value, if any is awarded.

3. The Board of Assessment Review. After evaluating the decision made the Assessor, a meeting with The Board of Assessment review may be made. Informal assessment reviews will be accepted through March 1, 2015 and the Formal Board of Assessment Review meets Tuesday May 26, 2015 in the Town of Amherst, NY. Hearings at the Board of Assessment Review routinely take place at a date determined by the respective municipalities. It is important to know and understand what these time frames and deadlines mean.

Preparing a strong case

Without strong evidence that the property is over-assessed, the most likely result is no change in value. The most commonly reason cited in a disposition for no change in value is "insufficient evidence." The majority of property owners who appeal their level of assessment fail to get a worthwhile reduction, because they do not understand the process. We know property owners hate to see an unfavorable result when they spent their time fighting an unfair assessment. After years of successfully representing property owners in assessment appeals, our firm knows what mistakes to avoid and what points to emphasize. 

These are the most common factors that we/you can use to contribute to the strength of an assessment reduction case:

1. The recent sale of the subject property. If you recently (recently is relative depending on your property type and local market conditions) bought your property for an amount less than the assessed value, that provides perhaps the strongest argument for an assessment reduction.

2. Recent comparable sales. Recent sales of comparable properties are typically the backbone of a successful appeal. We like to find comparable sales that:

  • are within the last 1-2 years or relevant look-back period;
  • are a short distance from the subject and within the same municipality;
  • have similar physical and economic characteristics; and
  • are the same type of building (single-family, multi-family, commercial, etc.)

3. Defects in the property or mistakes in the county data. Physical defects in the property are important, but may not be accurately represented in the county database due to time sensitivity. If the property is damaged and is in need of repair or attention, or if there are other issues (could include vacancy), those defects can serve as evidence in support of a lower assessed value. Sometimes the municipal data has inaccurate or outdated property characteristics such as square footage, percentage office space vs. warehouse space, use code. In that case, correcting the mistake can potentially result in a lower assessment. 

4. Appraisals. In very challenging cases, sometimes it is necessary to secure a professional appraisal of the property performed by a qualified New York State certified General Real Estate Appraiser. Although this involves an additional cost, it usually serves as the most convincing evidence of value.

What you can do:

If you have a good business relationship with representatives of the Assessor's office and you are confident you will say what is best for you and your assessment reduction case 100% of the time please use the above information and move forward and be successful independently.

If you do not have a business relationship with any representatives of the Assessor's office and you are not confident you will say what is best for you and your assessment reduction case 100% of the time you should consider getting Lester Appraisal involved.