Appealing your King County property tax assessment - My first-hand experience Part 1: Filing the App
In July of 2015, I received my “Official Property Value Notice” in the form of a postcard mailed from the King County Assessor’s office; this postcard contained my 2015 assessed value for taxes due in 2016.
As someone who eats, breathes, and sleep real estate, I keep an ongoing assets and liabilities spreadsheet that I update monthly with the estimated value of my home. I monitor the comps on a routine basis. So, I was rather astonished when my assessed value came in 27% higher than the value I had placed on my home at the time of the valuation.
The overvaluation placed on my property would result in close to $1,500 in additional property taxes I would have to pay this year, so appealing my assessment was something I wanted to do from both a savings standpoint and point of principle.
In defense of the Assessor’s Office, they are tasked with placing a value on an immense amount of properties, which is a valuation process that is determined largely through the use of computer models. It just doesn’t compare to the time and focus a real estate broker will spend helping a seller or buyer determine the market value of a home.
Side note, it is important to differentiate the role of the assessor’s office from your actual property taxes owed. The assessor’s office is tasked with placing a value on your property. The amount of taxes you pay are the result of levies you vote for, as one example.
There is an appeal process in place to help property owners have the opportunity to make sure an accurate value is placed on their property. The official property value notice postcard contained instructions on how to appeal (http://www.kingcounty.gov/appeals), and I had 60 days to file the appeal based on the mailing date of my property value notice postcard.
The paperwork for the appeal notice is essentially three pages, and your entire appeal needs to be built upon providing “convincing evidence that the Assessor’s value is not the true and fair market value.” The appeal form points out that things like “the percentage of assessment increase” is not relevant information, so in my personal appeal, I would be leaving out the 53.7% increase from the previous year’s valuation of my property. That 53.7% wasn’t a typo, by the way. And no, I didn’t do any remodeling or adding on to my property.
In a nutshell, your appeal should consist of data in the form of nearby, comparable sales.
I work in real estate every day, so the process of examining comparable properties and sales data comes naturally to me... I also have all of the real estate industry tools at my disposal, tools which I work with every day.
The point I’m trying to make is that compiling my appeal took me a lot of hours to put together, and I’m someone who has the experience, knowledge, and tools to do this as quickly as one can effectively do. For the lay person appealing their property taxes, this would surely be a more difficult and time consuming undertaking.
That being said, the appeal paperwork does afford you the opportunity to appoint someone as your power of attorney for this specific appeal.
Anyways, back to the appeal. About three months after filing my appeal, I received my first correspondence from the King County Board of Equalization regarding my appeal. It was a letter in the mail with my “notice of hearing;” my hearing date was scheduled for the middle of February – five months after filing my appeal and more than six months after receiving my property value notice postcard.
***Link to Part 2: The Appeal Process and Hearing***