How to Appeal an Assessment

You’ve got your assessment and your appeal form and you’re ready to move forward with your appeal.  Now what? What tools are available to you to support your argument that the Borough’s property value is excessive or not equal to similar properties.

In my last post, I mentioned that an appeal must show that an appraisal was unequal, excessive or improper. If it clearly shows one of these three criteria, you’ve got yourself a fighting chance at winning an appeal.

Start with the assessor’s office and gather up all the information that you can. Even ask for a copy of their spreadsheet. Find out exactly what numbers they used to arrive at your assessment value. For example, $19,000 for natural gas or $10,000 for a view. Those numbers will help determine how you’re going to approach an appeal.

Poke as many holes in their argument as you can. If you find out that the assessor has valued your garden shed at $55,000 – an easy solution is to get them out to see the shed and determine that the shed is just that: a shed. That’s an easy and obvious one. If they determined that you have a great view or potential for a view and you don’t – send photos or get them out to see for themselves.

Use the KPB Parcel Viewer to find similar properties to yours. If you find similar properties that have lower assessments – bring it up to the assessor.

Let’s touch on all three and I’ll suggest ways you can gather facts to support your argument. If you have suggestions or ideas, add them to the blog comments or e-mail them to me at: sarah@soldonhomer.com

  1. Unequal
    Here’s where an appraiser or a realtor can help you. If it’s worth it to you, you can hire an appraiser to do what’s called a fee appraisal. A fee appraisal is done by a licensed appraiser and will provide a solid opinion on the market price of your home. It costs money though, about $500, and it might not be worth it to you. Before you go sinking money into a fee appraisal – ask you assessor if that will work in your case.Remember, Alaska is a privacy state a Realtor can’t tell you what your neighbour’s property sold for or what comparable properties sold for.

    A word of caution: don’t rely on asking prices for proof of market value for your house. It’s not as easy as going on Zillow or Trulia and printing out what the asking prices for homes you think are comparable. Listing price is not market value.

    You can use Zillow or Trulia to find recently sold properties. A little sleutihng and a few phone calls or e-mails and you might be able to find the sale price. You don’t need many comparable sales, just a 3 or 4. And yes, I get it’s tacky asking someone what they paid for something – but these are desperate times. All I can suggest is to be professional about asking and discreet in what you do with the information you gather.

  2. Excessive
    According to the State Assessor’s office who trains the Board of Equalization that you hopefully don’t have to go before, Excessive is the hardest to prove. Basically, an excessive assessment is above prevailing market price.For this one, you need a list of properties that have sold with their sales prices. You’re essentially filling in the blanks for the assessment office. You need market data in this case.  Be as tenacious as you’re willing to be here.

    Local appraisers have some general market data and we’re working on how to make that available.

  3. Improper
    The State Assessor’s office is in the middle of a regularly-scheduled audit of the KPB Assessor’s office. According to the State Assessor, they don’t currently see anything improper. That might change, that might not.

If you recently signed a contract on a property and as a buyer want to appeal an assessment, you can do that. Just have a seller write a letter/email giving you authority to appeal on their behalf.

The Deadline to file your appeal is the 31st. We’re hearing that the assessor’s office is too busy to take fact gathering calls – call anyway.  If you can’t get through and you go straight to appeal, state that on your appeal form in that evidence section.

Good luck, everyone.

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