Living in your Oak Shores home on Lake Nacimiento is a rewarding investment for many reasons. The laid back lifestyle, stunning views of Lake Nacimiento and the opportunities to get involved in such a vibrant community have left you charmed and you couldn’t be happier.
The only thing that may leave you with a slight cloud overhead is one that rings true for most homeowners: property taxes. If you’ve noticed that your taxes seem to increase each year; there are ways to fight back. Being willing to put in a little time and research can help you save in an area you never thought possible. Take a look at these 7 steps for lowering your property taxes as pointed out by Money.CNN.com; a endeavor that can save you thousands in the long run!
1. Learn your system– Taxing authorities use different methods to calculate home values. Some look at recent sales of similar homes. In rural areas where sales are few, they might estimate the cost to rebuild. Others use some combination of methods. Call your assessor’s office and ask how it pegs values. In some locales your tax liability is based on a percentage of your property’s estimated value. You’ll want to know what that percentage is so you can figure out whether the actual value the assessor is assigning to your home is fair. You can always ask a Lake Nacimiento Real Estate agent the process for assessing taxes on homes in Oak Shores and the surrounding areas.
2. Get your assessor’s evidence– The assessor didn’t pull his estimate out of a hat, even if it seems that way to you. Visit the tax assessor’s office and ask for the evidence used to value your home. Get your home’s property card, which lists basic details like lot size, square footage and number of bathrooms.
3. Make sure the description is right– When municipalities or counties re-assess property values, they typically hire an outside contractor who looks at hundreds or thousands of homes in a tight time period. The appraiser has to come up with shortcuts. Three vent stacks on the roof? That must mean three full baths. Never mind that an upstairs laundry room could be the culprit. The assessor’s file should contain a worksheet that the appraiser filled out during inspection with addresses of homes he compared with yours.
4. Build your case- You won’t have much time to file an appeal, generally 60 days or less from the time your annual tax assessment was mailed. (This typically occurs between late spring and late summer.) If the issue isn’t a simple error on your property card, you’ll need to arm yourself with recent comparable sales or assessments that show your house has been valued too high. You can look up your neighbors’ home valuations at the assessor’s office.
The easiest way to come up with comparable sales is to ask a Lake Nacimiento Real Estate agent for help. Please know that if you can’t find comparable homes that sold for at least 10% less than your property’s assessed value, throw in the towel. Some areas require the valuation to be off by even more than that to win an appeal.
5. Meet the assessor informally– Go over the evidence you found in support of a lower value. If the assessor more or less agrees with you, the rest of the process will be a lot faster and smoother. Attitude is important. You’re showing the assessor how his appraiser messed up, so be kind. If the assessor won’t budge, make him explain why. Take notes since these are the same arguments he will use once your appeal is filed.
6. File the appeal– Usually this is with a county board. Hand deliver it and get a receipt or use certified mail. Within a couple of weeks you should get a notice acknowledging receipt, although you could have a long wait for a hearing. Most appeals are heard over the course of a couple of weeks. Before your day arrives, attend a hearing to get accustomed to the proceedings.
Prepare visuals with photos of your home and the comparable homes, then write out and rehearse your presentation. Keep it to eight minutes or less. Brevity will score you points and leave time for the board to ask questions.
7. Feel lost?– First, you’ll likely appeal to a state agency. If that fails, you’ll probably have to go to court. At this stage of the game you’ll need help from a lawyer, but you can retain a lawyer for a contingency fee that varies based on your potential tax relief. An independent appraisal will cost $400 or so. The state, which will be handling hundreds of such appeals, wants to end the dispute as quickly as you do. In about 95% of cases, they will voluntarily give relief.
This whole process, if not having to go to court, could take you a mere 15-20 hours; which seems painless in the grand scheme of the money you’ll be saving. Of course, if you have questions about your property taxes or comparables on Lake Nacimiento; please let me know! I’d be happy to answer your questions and help you along the way.
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Oak Shores Realty specializes in Oak Shores at Lake Nacimiento properties. Please contact us today to get more information on Lake Nacimiento lake homes. Oak Shores Realty can also provide you an insiders “Lake Nacimiento Buying Guide” with great information including maps and market information.
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