Property Tax Revaluation--What if the assessor was denied access to home?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by fin29, Nov 29, 2006.

  1. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    Over a year ago, a man showed up here stating he was hired by the town to revaluate our home for property taxes. I knew the town had the program going, but he showed up unannounced in the morning when I was home with my three small children alone, and I was hesitant to let him into the home. I told him to call me and set up an appointment to come when my husband was here as well, going so far as to suggest times to do that.
    Well, he never called, so our home hasn't been re-assessed. I think that overall, that's probably a good thing since we've reno-ed the entire place inside but the outside hasn't been touched (already good condition), probably since the last reass. in the 80's. I have seen him in the neighborhood since and I'm assured he's actually the assessor, so that's not the issue.

    So here's the question. I did allow him to measure the outside while he was here, and he measured it including the almost 1000 sq. ft. glassed-in porch that isn't heated and thus doesn't count for square footage for the home. So would it be better to call and ask him to come back to explain away the unheated porch at the risk of him seeing the interior reno. or should I just leave it be? I am slightly concerned about the reass. since we own a uniquely large and valuable parcel of land in town, and I would understandably like to keep my property taxes down.

    Any thoughts from people with similar experiences or even people who have actually done the reassessments themselves?
     
  2. rkintn

    rkintn mean people suck

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    Here in TN the tax assessor has never come in our house that I can remember. Now, he will come out and look at the property. I would just leave it be. If he wants to assess it, he will contact you. I wouldn't have let him in either if I were at home alone with my children.
     

  3. beowoulf90

    beowoulf90 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't know about the laws in Maine, but here in the "land of high taxes" (PA) you are not required to let him in. If you don't like the a assessment that he give you have the right to appeal it to the county, but be forewarned once you appeal it, he now has the right to enter the home.
    So to put it another way, darned if you do, darned if you don't!!! In the 15 years that we've owned this home we have not allowed him into our home and will not as long as we can help it!!! Let the thieves steal from someone else...

    I would not allow him into my home, but again I don't know what the laws are in your area. Check out the property tax laws and see what your options are. Most are on-line, it just takes some research.
     
  4. TnAndy

    TnAndy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I not only don't let them in my home, I don't even let them on the property. I have a gate and to my knowledge, they have never been on the place. We had a trailer here when we first moved on the property, then built the house and got rid of the trailer. About 5 years later, I get a letter from the assessor's office that says "Your taxes were based on a trailer, now you have a home there and we are raising them".....I figure they got that info from air photos.

    Once I had the gate open and the assessor guy started driving up the drive in his jeep....I didn't know who it was.....I was working over to the side in the woods, and hollered at the guy. He stopped, told me who he was, and he "needed to go measure my new barn that he COULD see from the road"......I said no you don't....it measures 30x60....and back you jeep up". He left.

    But if you live in a house right off the street, they simply come on the property and start measuring without so much as a 'howdy'......I've seen 'em do it.

    Seems like a warrantless search to me. I'd like to find a source for those signs I've seen that proclaim "To one and all.....fair use of this property is $5,000 per day or any part thereof. This applies to all non-owners including tourists and government agents" or something like that. Then if they tresspass, take 'em to court for your 5 grand.
     
  5. suitcase_sally

    suitcase_sally Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I had an accessor come but not get in, so he just made up stuff. Had me down for 3 bedrooms (have 2), central air(no), and other things. I paid taxes on that assesment for years not knowing what he did. Finally got them to correct the description. I think he did this to p--s me off.
     
  6. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    Fin,

    I think you did the right thing. I wouldn't explain anything to him for now. Wait for the assessment and fight it later if you think it's too high. In the county I used to live the only acceptable evidence to fight is recent sales prices of comparable homes. I fought the reassessment of my home twice based on that evidence and won a reduction twice. The county had a website that showed recently sold properties. Find out what evidence they want you to have for a fight though so you're properly prepared.
     
  7. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Well-Known Member

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    Most people are not home when they come. The county was reassessed in 1994 and the guy came in, but did not walk around because he had muddy shoes. The only question he asked was how many bathrooms & he told us we had drywall (we don't, our house has plaster walls) and we just said OK! Most people who were not home had their house measured and were put down for 1 1/2 bathrooms. My inlaws that had two bathrooms lucked out. Friends that only had 1 bathroom did not. We were told that it was mainly the size of the house and then the lot size. They are full of it, because I know of a house that had twice as much land and twice the square footage and was only assessed at 30% more than mine.
     
  8. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We had the same thing....my dog wouldnt let him out of his vehicle :)

    Our sunroom is unheated too (okay the woodcookstove is in there but its too small to do more than cook) and its where a deck was attached....I told him we covered the deck.

    He did want to measure the barn (about triple the size of the structure we replaced)....we never heard a thing back from the town...our taxes went up $140 for the year...which I figure is just the same increase everyone recieved.

    $840 for the year---7acres, 1700sq. foot house and barn with 4 other outbuildings. :shrug: Our first abatement in 15 years of ownership.
     
  9. halfpint

    halfpint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The first time our home was assessed, they must have come while I was gone. They apparently measured the house, including the garage, and doubled the measurement for the square footage as we have an upstairs, plus added some for a 'finished basement'. Since we have a 1 1/2 story house, the upstairs footage us much smaller than the main level, plus he counted the garage and the area above it (which is trusses and unusable), nor do we have a finished basement. We had recently refinanced so had an appraisal on our home and that appraisal was about 40% of what the tax assessor had figured. So I appealed.

    I was given an appointment with the board, and I walked in and they asked why I was appealing, and I told them that I had an appraisal for the home due to refinancing that was significantly less than their appraisal, plus my square footage was no where near what they had indicated. I handed them a copy of the appraisal, and they reduced my assessment on the spot - to about 60% of the appraisal amount.

    Here when they reassess your property they send you a notice. Have you received a notice of reassessment? Also, any time you have a building permit or contractor work on your property in our county, it is reported to the county for home improvements and reassessments.
    Dawn
     
  10. SteveD(TX)

    SteveD(TX) Well-Known Member

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    You can file suit if they trespass on your property, but you won't win. All states have laws that allow tax assessors on your property to inspect for the purposes of appraisal or assessment. That doesn't mean you have to let him inside. Usually, an outside inspection will do. The outside measurements are what determines the square footage of a home, not the inside. And most states and taxing jurisdictions stress getting your permission to enter if you are rural and have no trespassing signs up. I've never heard of "doing the reassessment yourself". One thing you CAN do, is to protest the new value if you think it's too high. Be open and honest, and let the assessor know that part of your house is non-heated, etc..
     
  11. hunter63

    hunter63 Well-Known Member

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    As suitcase sally says's, they just make up stuff, then challenge you to defend yourself.

    Had several people I know did not let the assessor in, and it was a long battle.
    Had to let them in to prove stuff, time off from work etc. (Guess this is where the saying"can't fight city hall" comes in.

    My problem was how they assessed the land, as I was "city people" they jacked the price up as "recreational/residential land.

    Farmer down the road farms/crops most of it and had registered it with USDA as me being the owner, him being the "operator", so I had a "Farm number".

    So with this information and a Terra Fly picture of the land, showing "No house", tilled ground (mar 1999) I was able to get the rate changed on most of it.
    It DOES pay to "fight city hall".

    Land in this area has jumped in price from $1000 per acer, to off the map for "river frontage". (example, 2-1/2 acer 300ft river frontage, 2/3 rds flood plain, $149900).

    This will continue to be a battle as long as "city people" keep spending the big bucks and driving up the assesments.
    Good luck, and fight if you have to.
     
  12. dcross

    dcross Well-Known Member Supporter

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    <<I did allow him to measure the outside while he was here, and he measured it including the almost 1000 sq. ft. glassed-in porch>>

    I would guess that was your assessment. If you're happy with the results don't raise a fuss.
     
  13. unioncreek

    unioncreek Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In some states and that includes WA you can't deny them entry and it can be unannounced. They do have to show you some ID stating that they are who they say they are.

    Bobg
     
  14. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    My father was a tax assessor for 35 years. It was an elected position. Most townships today use professional appraisal companies to determine privately owned real estate valuations.

    Here's how it works. The tax assessor is performing their job, which is to put a dollar figure on real estate. They are given some latitude.
    Unquestionably, the tax assessor will run up against people that refuse entry to their house and/or property. Every tax assessor experiences this. They understand perfectly some females are hesitant to allow people into their house. Of course, each entry refusal is unique. Quite often, the assessor assumes the homeowner is hiding something, and assesses things slightly higher than they normally would. When they run up against a real dimwit hillbilly that insults them or somehow manages to antagonize them, they, being humans, assess things at the high end limit.

    It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that one will receive the lowest valuation possible if they cooperate with the process. Tax assessors are fully aware that they will run up against people lacking the intellectual capacity to grasp this concept.

    If any property owner believes their evaluation is too high, they have the right to appear before the board of adjustment (or some similar type entity) and state their case for why their valuation is incorrect.
    In reality, only a handful of people ever bother to protest their valuation and it is rare indeed to overturn the assessors calculations. Town boards & other governing entities don't like to upset the applecart.

    Like it or not, that is how the system works.
     
  15. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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  16. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    Around here they have a van with a huge telescoping arm and a camera to see the houses in the suburbs. We were just reassessed recently but he didn't ask to come into the house. They never knew we had a barn out back, not that it matters as it's agricultural, but it's just interesting that they never knew... it's perfectly visible on the satellite image on their site.
     
  17. TnAndy

    TnAndy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out you could be slightly prejudiced in your take on this subject.


    I figure my taxes have run about 30-40% less over 25 years by NOT letting them on the property......based on taxes I pay for other rental properties I own where the just tresspass on.........but then, it could just be my limited intellectual capacity to use a calculator......and to understand the 4th amendment.

    :D


    Thanks for the URL, Michigan Farmer......that's the one I was thinking of......
     
  18. TnAndy

    TnAndy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Around HERE, that might get you shot for peeping !
     
  19. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    LOL, you would be suprised what people here or there will put up with.
     
  20. copperkid3

    copperkid3 Well-Known Member

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    Dwelling in the state of Confusion -
    Not to get off-thread, but I did a looksie on this site and found the following which is hilighted, to be incorrect:

    "....you will file a claim in the small clams court. They cannot have an attorney with them in this court."

    While using a small claims court doesn't actually require an attorney (no doubt because there isn't enough profit in it for most of them!), there is nothing preventing an attorney from being retained and presenting their clients' position. So be advised that any "legal" advice obtained from this site may be worth exactly what you pay for it. :rolleyes: