How can an assessor get the information needed to assess my property without coming inside?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Making on-site inspections of each and every home interior and business interior within the boundaries of a taxing jurisdiction is costly and time-consuming. The assessor must use whatever information can be practically obtained, such as building permit information and what can be discerned from looking at the property from the outside. Calling you or requesting information by letter are other practical ways to obtain the information.

How are homes typically assessed?

Homes are assessed primarily based on the fair market value of sold homes in the area. So, if your neighbor’s home sold for $70,000 just a month before the assessment, your home will most likely be assessed around the same amount. Additionally, keep in mind that an assessor hired for tax assessment purposes is primarily assessing the land and any permanent structures. Land can be evaluated from the exterior as can most buildings.

What if I disagree with the assessment?

You always have the right to appeal the conclusion of the county assessment. If you are planning to appeal the assessment, contact your county assessment office and find out what the standard procedure is. This will ensure that your appeal is not denied due to the many procedural rules that may exist.

Next, do your research. Contact a private appraisal company and obtain a full-value appraisal for your home. A full value appraisal will offer the strongest evidence that the assessment is inaccurate and needs to be adjusted. Expect to wait at least 4 to 6 weeks for your results and longer if your entire area has recently been re-assessed.

Finally, always pay your due taxes. Even if you are still awaiting your appeal results, pay the due amount. If you disagree with the amount, write “Paid in protest” on the memo line of the check. If you are having difficulties navigating the assessment appeal process yourself, consider consulting with a real estate attorney.

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