The house down the street sat empty for months. The people lost it to foreclosure. That was late 2009. The house down the street finally sold. New people live there now. They paid a little more for the house down the street than you paid for your SUV. From your front window you can see two for-sale signs and a third home sitting empty, already foreclosed on. You stare out the window and sigh. The house down the street is nearly identical to yours.
As property values across the country began plummeting years ago, homeowners everywhere fretted over the fact that their investment had suffered double-digit losses. Many suddenly owed thousands more than the home was worth. Some homeowners, though, found a silver lining and used the opportunity to shave a few bucks from their monthly mortgage payments by requesting their local tax assessor re-evaluate the property’s value. By adjusting your home’s property value to its true market worth, you can carve hundreds of dollars from your yearly tax burden. If you – as many homeowners do – pay your property taxes through an escrow account as part of your monthly mortgage payment, one phone call to your municipality’s tax assessor can help cut $50, even $100 from your monthly payment.
Some cities and townships adjust property values annually, although they sometimes cap the increase or decrease in cases where there isn’t a change in home ownership. Other municipalities require a formal request from taxpayers, perhaps even an appearance before the assessor. In any event, the simple attempt to lower your property taxes is a worthwhile move that can help tweak your household budget for the better. Besides, it’s the right thing to do. After all, how much do think the new people in the house down the street are paying in taxes?
Justin Velthoen of Toucan Homes is a real estate professional. The content presented above should not be considered tax or legal advice, and is intended only to assist homebuyers in finding general answers to their questions. Toucan Homes recommends that investors seek professional tax and legal advice from a licensed lawyer and/or custodian.