Sunday, March 22, 2009

Appealing your Ann Arbor Property Taxes - ten things to know

Ann Arbor home market values are falling and there has been a large interest in making sure homeowner's taxable values are adjusted downward as well. Here are ten things to consider if you are interested in appealing your tax assessment:

1. The Ann Arbor City Board of Review meets the third week of March for 4 days. You must make our appeal during this time. So, while you missed it for 2009 you can set your sights on 2010! Mark your calendar now - March 1st - watch for tax assessment notice from city! The State of Michigan establishes the appeal process and it is your right to take advantage of the process.

2. Notices of Assessment and Taxable Value are mailed the first week of March each year. Read carefully and contact the Assessor's Office if you have questions. Appearances before the board are by appointment and you must complete appropriate appeal forms which will be provided upon request.

3. You must provide evidence indicating the assess value is in excess of 50% of the true cash value to have a good basis for appeal. What is good evidence? Sale price of neighboring similar homes (within the last year) - did they sell for less than twice the Assessed Value (SEV)? WEV's of similar homes to yours in the neighborhood - are they significantly different? Condition of the property, is the property in poor condition? Have estimates for the cost of repairs to justify why the property may be worth less. A professional appraisal of your property can be valuable if you file an appeal; however, unless substantial tax savings result from the appeal, the cost of the appraisal might be more than your tax savings. You might also review current Ann Arbor real estate listings for sale on the MLS.

4. Your assessment and property data is available on line. You can research the sale prices and market values of all Ann Arbor Homes on line at City of Ann Arbor's Tax data site. Read the disclaimer on this page, scrool to the bottom and click the link "continue to online tax data", then select property and land search.

5. Members of the Board of Review are citizens appointed by the Mayor, with Council approval, and are not employees of the City of Ann Arbor.

6. You can appeal the Board's decision to the Michigan Tax Tribunal. You must file your appeal witht eh MTT by July 31t for residential property. Residential propeties are required to first protet before the local board in order to appeal to the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

7. Your Taxable value may not go down along with your SEV. So, protesting your sev may not change your tax bill. Your taxable value is capped and goes up based on the Inflation Rate Multiplier. Which for 2009 is 1.044. Assessed Value, Taxable Value, Capped and Taxable Value are explained here.

8. History of Assessed and Taxable values: The Total assessed value and taxable value of Ann Arbor real estate has increased every year from 1990 to 2007! While the City of Ann Arbor has not posted the number for 2008 2009. This says a lot about the strength of real esate as an investment - however, there has definitely been a correction in 2008, and 2009 and you can get a drecrease in your tax bill if you research and appeal it with supportiing data. See the chart here.

9. The city does not appraise each property. It does an annual sales study, by neighborhood whcih looks at the the previous year (in a declining market)only. The study was from Octover 2007 to September 2008. If there are recent sales in your neighborhood they may be 10 percent or more below these values. Using very recent sales if they are available may help you present a strong case.

10. If you don't review the data, and present your case, nothing will happen. The system is set up for citizens to use. the board sits through 100's of cases - about 80 per day and many taxable values are lowered.

As an Ann arbor Realtor, I have been contacted by many of my clients for opinions about whether they should appeal. I am happy to provide supporting neighorhood comparible sales and other data to help with your case. Even if you are not a past or present client, I am always available to talk real estate - just pick up the phone or email me anytime.

For a good read on the Board of Review in action, read the Ann Arbor Chronicle article, Lower My Property Assessment Please

Image courtesy Flickr - RubyJi

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