Combating My Property Taxes And Dropping: Key Classes For Battle

Seeing your property’s worth go up feels good, particularly if it goes up greater than what you comprised of your day job. Nevertheless, the most important draw back is your property taxes will possible go up as nicely.

For so long as I can bear in mind, I’ve at all times stood up for myself. Whether or not it was getting bullied in school or getting ripped off by a vendor, you finest not attempt to make the most of me or else. However after three years of preventing my property taxes, I’ve given up.

That is really my first time dropping a property tax enchantment. But, I really feel it ought to have been the simplest property tax enchantment to win.

Again in 2009, 2010, and 2011, I efficiently bought town to decrease my property’s assessed worth so I may save on property taxes. If I had not appealed, town would have stored charging me increased and better property taxes throughout the world monetary disaster.

Let me clarify how this entire property tax ordeal began and a few classes discovered should you additionally need to get your property taxes lowered. I need to prevent time, cash, and stress. I additionally need to report my expertise as a way to let go.

Ultimately, you should do a price / profit evaluation on the property tax you can doubtlessly save and the worth of your time.

A Affordable Property Buy

Again in 2019, I used to be in a position to purchase a single-family residence fixer with ocean views in San Francisco. Ever since shopping for my first ocean view single-family residence in 2014, I made a decision this was the asset class I needed to build up for retirement.

The properties had been in a quiet neighborhood with an honest quantity of land for town. Additional, they had been priced at a reduction to the median worth per sq. foot within the metropolis, which didn’t make sense. In each metropolis on the earth, water-view properties commerce at massive premiums. This was my alternative.

In the end, I used to be in a position to purchase the fixer for $1,780,000 or $200,000 beneath its authentic asking worth. I had initially supplied $1,550,000 earlier than it was listed however the sellers needed to check the open market.

After two weeks of backwards and forwards, the sellers determined to record the property on the MLS for $1,980,000 for 5 days. On the sixth day, the sellers lowered the asking worth to $1,880,000 for in the future.

I used to be a money purchaser with a brief three-week shut. To avoid wasting the vendor on fee, I let the out-of-town itemizing agent characterize me. i additionally wrote a convincing actual property love letter that defined we weren’t speculators. As an alternative, we had been a household who deliberate to rework the house and dwell in it.

As an alternative of preserving the house in the marketplace for the “commonplace” two weeks earlier than setting a proposal deadline, they determined to just accept my provide after solely six days on the MLS. They feared I might stroll.

Looking back, I used to be detached about shopping for the house for something above $1,780,000. It was a challenge that required numerous money and time. However it was additionally an even bigger residence to accommodate our rising household.

The Badgering Begins From The Workplace Of The Assessor-Recorder

For 5 months after buy, I used to be busy coordinating with my common contractor to get the reworking going. Then, out of the blue in November 2019, I used to be e-mailed by a property assessor named Thomas T.

He requested for photographs of the property I had bought, who my agent was, and her contact info. Via a collection of back-and-forth emails, I requested him why he was asking for all of this info.

Did I do one thing mistaken? Did they confuse me for a Russian oligarch attempting to launder cash?

Thomas stated he was tasked to know why the property “solely” bought for $1,780,000. Their evaluation fashions flagged my property ought to have been bought at the next worth.

Huh? I purchased the property for $1,780,000 as a result of that’s what the vendor was keen to promote it to me for. No person else was keen to pay extra, which is why I used to be in a position to purchase it. The market-clearing worth was the truthful market worth. That is economics 101!

Given my expertise coping with the San Francisco Workplace of the Assessor-Recorder from 2009-2011, I knew I wanted to do extra to persuade them to not screw me. Defending my property buy was not sufficient. As an alternative, I needed to argue why the property’s worth must be assessed decrease.

So, I wrote a letter as any actual property blogger would do.

A Letter To Attempt And Decrease My Assessed Property Worth And Taxes

Hiya Thomas,

On MM DD, 2019, I purchased X Property Handle for $1,780,000 after first providing $1,550,000. It was a belief sale, so it was bought as-is with no disclosure bundle. I now notice after doing this train that I overpaid for the home. 

The house was a full fixer-upper, the place my contractor and I estimated we’d want between $500,000 – $600,000 to repair up the property.

Don’t be fooled by the brand new carpet and the brand new paint job photos from the MLS listings. I visited the property many instances with a few skilled contractors. Lots of work must be achieved.

Abstract of the work wanted to be achieved:

1) The primary ground behind the storage is uninhabitable. It must be blown out and redone. Estimated price $100,000.

2) There may be wooden rot in the master suite home windows and eating room window. All of the wooden and home windows must be changed. Estimated price: $50,000.

3) There may be wooden rot alongside all the west aspect of the home. Estimated price: $50,000.

4) The storage door doesn’t work, requiring a brand new engine and door. Estimated price: $5,000

5) Basis work must be achieved as a result of pure settling of the home. Estimated price: $100,000 – $250,000

6) The kitchen and three bogs are from the Nineteen Fifties. They are going to be gutted and changed. There was no oven/vary within the kitchen when bought to me. The estimated price is between $80,000 – $100,000

7) There’s a roof leak. The estimated price to interchange the roof: $25,000

8) The home hasn’t been painted for 30+ years. The estimated price to color is: $30,000

9) {The electrical} is all knob and tube wiring, which must be upgraded. The price to improve to new ROMEX wiring is: $40,000 for 3 tales

10) The fence within the yard is rotted and falling down. Aspect fence can be outdated and desires alternative. Estimated price: $15,000. 

11) Outdated gravity furnace with tubes coated in abestos. The Abatement elimination course of = $9,000 and a brand new furnace = $4,000 – $7,000 for a complete of $13,000 – $16,000.

12) Then there’s the time it takes to do all these things and get a allow. We estimate every little thing will take 1.5 years to finish. 

So you’ll be able to see why we initially supplied $1,550,000 earlier than hitting the MLS. There may be an estimated $500,000+ of labor that must be achieved.

Extra Causes To Help My Provide Value

In the end, I needed to increase my provide worth to $1,700,000 after a counter. Then I lastly raised my provide to $1,780,000 after they listed it on the MLS. They couldn’t get their asking worth of $1,880,000, in order that they went again to me and requested if I may increase my $1,700,000 provide to $1,780,000. So I lastly acquiesced.  

1) The median residence worth in San Francisco peaked in April 2018 and was down about 12% by the point I used to be negotiating with the X Handle property sellers in March 2019. Please see the attachment from Compass Actuality, which does one of the best SF actual property analysis. 

2) Lastly, please see the gross sales worth of Y Property Handle comp, one block down the hill from me. The ultimate gross sales worth was solely $510/sqft. That is the home that I used to anchor my $1,550,000 preliminary provide.

Please Decrease My Property’s Assessed Worth

In conclusion, I imagine the assessed worth must be at most $1,650,000 if not decrease. The SF housing market continues to weaken in 2H2019 after I purchased the home.

However, on the time, I made a decision to pay up as a result of we would have liked a bigger home for our rising household. On the finish of the day, the rationale why I purchased the home for $1.78 million was that no person else was keen to pay extra.


Sam (Proprietor)

A Affordable Argument To Preserve My Property Taxes Mounted

A reasonably cheap argument proper? I believed so. Worst case, I must be assessed at not more than what I paid for the property. That’s the manner it has at all times been. The Workplace Of The Assessor-Recorder can’t simply make up the next property valuation as a way to cost increased property taxes.

By this time, I had already spent a few hours doing my analysis, responding to their e-mails, and writing my letter. I believed I used to be good to go, however no.

Property Assessor Contacts Itemizing Agent

Thomas determined to contact the itemizing agent with some questions in regards to the property. The itemizing agent, Lala, then responded with some lies for some purpose:

1.     Was the house a fixer? Not a fixer-upper. (Completely false as there wasn’t even kitchen home equipment)

2.     Any hazards or points with basis? No points on hazards, basis, or  body (There have been no disclosures as a result of it was a belief sale)

3.     What number of gives had been acquired? Two gives had been acquired. (I wasn’t conscious there was one other provide)

4.     Does the home have 3.5 baths? Sure 3.5 baths (appropriate)

5.    Did you characterize the vendor and the client? Sure, agent for vendor and purchaser.

6.    Did the client know the vendor? This was an at arm’s-length transaction. (A transaction wherein two or extra unrelated and unaffiliated events conform to do enterprise, appearing independently and of their self-interest.)

I’m undecided why Lala, the itemizing agent, lied in regards to the situation of the property. Possibly it was to salvage some satisfaction. She in all probability promised the sellers she may promote the property for far more than it did. Not solely was she a nasty actual property agent for the vendor, she was now a unhealthy actual property agent for the client.

So now I needed to proceed to argue why I paid the worth I paid. I informed Thomas it was ridiculous I needed to spend time explaining my buy to him. However he continued to say that my buy worth was mistaken.

One other E-mail From The Assessor’s Workplace Asking For Extra Paperwork

After a number of extra back-and-forth emails with Thomas, I bought a response from Thomas’ senior colleague, Concepcion V:

That is in response to your earlier e-mail to Mr. T. Please know that it’s the Assessor’s obligation to completely evaluate all sale transactions to validate its sale worth. A part of this course of entails acquiring details about the transaction from all events concerned i.e. consumers, sellers, and brokers. 

With that stated, thanks for submitting photographs and different info already furnished to Mr. T. Nevertheless, we nonetheless want further details about the sale itself to finish our evaluate and appropriately validate the acquisition worth.

Please present the next documentation:

  • A full copy of all disclosures
  • A full copy of any inspection stories ready for the acquisition of the property
  • A full copy of the acquisition and sale settlement
  • A full copy of the escrow/closing assertion
  • A full copy of the development settlement detailing the character of the work to be carried out on the property. It’s crucial to establish what’s being supplied so far as labor and supplies and its price.

Now, within the occasion the Assessor was to reject the reported sale worth and worth the property at the next worth, you’ve gotten recourse by submitting a proper enchantment with the Evaluation Appeals Board, which is an impartial physique.

You could find extra details about the appeals course of by visiting their web site at Within the meantime, I urge you to supply the data requested above in order that the Assessor can full its evaluate of this sale.

Ought to you’ve gotten further questions or considerations, please be happy to achieve me.


Concepcion V.

Actual Property Division

Workplace of the Assessor-Recorder, San Francisco

Responsible Till Confirmed Harmless: You Should Show Your Property Buy Value

Holy crap! Now I felt like I had dedicated a criminal offense and needed to show my innocence! I informed the itemizing agent, Lala, to ship within the supplies she had. Then I needed to ship within the contract I had signed with my common contractor.

After sending all of the paperwork in, I waited for a number of extra weeks till they bought again to me with their dedication.

As an alternative of assessing my property’s worth on the worth I paid for the property, they determined to evaluate my property for $1,880,000! WTF! If the property was value $1,880,000 in 2019, why didn’t anyone pay $1,880,000 for it?


Raised Value Of Transform

However the ache wasn’t over but. Not solely did the SF Property Assessor Workplace increase my assessed worth by $100,000 over my buy worth, however in addition they raised my transforming price by $55,000 as nicely.

I made a decision to apply for permits to rework my kitchen and three bogs on the highest two flooring earlier than shifting in with my household. My contractor put the challenge price at an affordable $80,000.

As an alternative of accepting our $80,000 rework price, the SF Property Assessor Workplace determined to jack the rework price as much as $135,388 from $80,000! What the hell. Is there any surprise why so many individuals resolve to rework with out permits? The extra corrupt your metropolis, the extra it’s possible you’ll need to side-step the allow course of.

All informed, the SF Assessors Workplace unfairly raised my assessed property worth by $165,000. A $165,000 increased worth at a 1.24% property tax charge means an additional $2,046 in property tax income for town. To me, this seems like theft.

I despatched them a number of comps that proved my buy worth was cheap. However they refused to just accept any of them. I then requested them to ship me the comps to show my increased worth they usually didn’t not.

I used to be dropping hope.

Corruption: One Final Hope To Get My Property Worth Down

Over a 12 months had handed since this huge waste of time. I shut the expertise out of my thoughts as a result of it solely made me mad. I hate being taken benefit of, particularly in the case of the all-powerful authorities.

Getting beat up by the federal government jogs my memory of this joke:

IRS: You owe us cash.

Me: How a lot?

IRS: Guess? 🙂

Me: This a lot?

IRS: No. Time for jail 🙂

In June 2020, the Justice Division introduced there was corruption and bribery occurring on the SF Division Of Constructing And Inspection and the SF Public Utilities Fee (SFPUC). A allow expeditor was mainly offering kickbacks to varied metropolis staff to get his and his shopper’s initiatives accepted.

I at all times discovered the existence of a allow expeditor to be suspect. However I bear in mind really paying for one after I did my first rework again in 2005/2006. That’s what my common contractor informed me to take action I adopted alongside. It was my first rework. That allow expeditor really bought convicted of bribery too!

Then on the finish of 2020, the SFPUC head was convicted, and I lastly had some hope. After lastly seeing among the corruption within the SF metropolis authorities get uncovered, I used to be emboldened to attempt to file one other property tax enchantment. Absolutely, the SF Workplace of the Assessor-Recorder would now be extra above-board after the corruption scandal! Proper?

I paid a non-refundable $60 bucks within the second half of 2021 and waited for months to get a response. When the SF Property Assessors workplace contacted me, as soon as once more, I needed to face my outdated adversary, Thomas T.

The Property Tax Enchantment Course of Spherical 2

Thomas e-mailed me the next:

  • Please ship in 3 BEST COMPS in accordance the (Board Guidelines) not more than 90 days after kind the occasion date 1/1/2021
  • Please select 3 BEST COMPS that’s closest in phrases of: situation as of 1/1/2021,  days vary , sq. footage and consider  and distance to your Topic (You Residence)
  • After principal appraiser the Market Worth vary and agree the FMV , principal appraiser can change the worth for FY 2021 (1-Yr) in accordance with the enchantment rule instantly, if that’s the case you don’t have to look , put together, and current to the Evaluation Appeals Board.

So as soon as once more, I needed to do analysis on my property’s comps to show my innocence. However as you would possibly discover from the request, the property tax enchantment is for the 2021 evaluation 12 months. It has nothing to do with me attempting to combat the $100,000 improve in assessed worth from what I initially paid for the property in 2019.

I had a robust feeling I wasn’t going to get anyplace with Thomas. However given I paid a $60 non-refundable price, I made a decision to not less than ask him for recommendation on tips on how to discover the comps. Thomas really responded with some steering.

How To Discover Historic Comps For Your Property To Struggle Your Property Taxes

Right here’s what Thomas responded with:

  • Take a look at your property on Redfin. Go to the “Public Information” tab and get the true sq. footage proper.
  • Lots of different web sites show “Advertising sqft” which isn’t helpful to match, sqft , bathtub rely will likely be verified utilizing Assessor Recorder public report. (see screenshot beneath)
  • When you search by tackle or (Block/Lot) , Click on “Assessor Abstract” to get Actual sqft , bathtub rely and many others… (see screenshot beneath)
  • You should use one other web site so long as you Double Confirm Actual sqft , bathtub rely and many others… utilizing “San Francisco Property Info Map”

Thomas didn’t inform me what I requested for. All he did was inform me what the general public data had been for my property.

So right here’s a lesson to save lots of on property taxes. If the general public data present a smaller home with much less rooms, depart it alone! Don’t proactively replace your metropolis property data. Don’t let satisfaction get in the way in which. Solely replace your property metropolis data the 12 months you propose to promote.

However what Thomas did confirm with me was that the SF Assessors Workplace makes use of Redfin as a information for tips on how to assess property values. In the event that they use Redfin, they most definitely verify Zillow as nicely.

I finally bought the comps for the date vary requested by asking my outdated actual property agent.

Giving Up On My Property Tax Enchantment

After a number of extra back-and-forth e-mails, I made a decision to cease losing my time. For 3 years, I gave preventing my property taxes my finest shot. Not less than I can’t remorse having tried to combat the facility.

Since 2019, property costs have moved up. Due to this fact, despite the fact that the SF Property Assessors workplace is charging me $2,046 extra a 12 months in property tax than they need to, I’ve a buffer between the market worth and the assessed worth because of Proposition 13.

I’m glad to have discovered one thing in regards to the property tax enchantment course of to share with all of you. Sharing useful firsthand info to doubtlessly prevent money and time is among the the explanation why I’m keen to battle a lot. There are 1000’s on the market who really feel like their property tax evaluation is mistaken too.

I bought every little thing I may get out of the SF Workplace of the Assessor-Recorder and the Appeals Board. After I confirmed the SF Property Assessor Workplace makes use of Redfin, I knew it was time to cease attempting. As a result of in the event that they use Redfin, they could see one thing like this on-line.

Fighting My Property Taxes And Losing: Key Lessons

Use On-line Estimates To Your Benefit

Everyone knows that on-line property estimates are to not be trusted. Zillow couldn’t even belief their estimates and shut down their iBuying enterprise in 2021. Zillow continued to purchase overpriced properties as a result of its algorithm couldn’t take into correct account a property’s true situation.

Redfin additionally conducts revisionist historical past with their estimates. They’ll change their actual property estimates over time in order to not look so mistaken. Again in 2019, the hole between the estimate and greenback signal was a lot narrower.

I’ve come to peace with the state of affairs now as a result of the market went up. There was additionally nothing extra I may do.

Nevertheless, if the market went down, I do know the assessors workplace wouldn’t do the best factor and decrease my property taxes. In consequence, we should all proceed to combat day by day for our monetary freedom!

Classes Discovered From Combating My Property Taxes

In case you plan to undergo the ordeal of preventing your property taxes, listed here are some key takeaways:

  • You could anchor low to offer your probability at successful your property tax enchantment. By anchoring low, you give your self room to barter up.
  • Unbeknownst to me, the property assessor’s workplace has the facility to worth your property at no matter they suppose is truthful worth. They’ll cherry choose the costliest comps to justify their evaluation. Your grasp negotiating abilities could get punished.
  • If you don’t combat your property taxes in a down market, don’t anticipate the Property Assessors Workplace to robotically decrease your property taxes. You could file a property tax enchantment.
  • Be ready to spend hours justifying your property’s worth. Additionally, be ready to get non-answers to your questions. They’ll stonewall you.
  • Out of satisfaction, some individuals have the will to make their property look as superior on-line as doable. Do the alternative. For the reason that property assessor’s workplace makes use of Redfin and Zillow to get an concept of how a lot your property is value, take away all particulars of your property on-line. Take off the images and put 0 worth for sq. footage, bedrooms, and bogs.
  • Preserve a report of all of the crappiest comps that promote inside a 3-6-month timeframe from while you bought your property. This manner, you’ll be able to simply use them should you had been to ever file a property tax enchantment. The assessor’s workplace will purposefully offer you a tiny window for comps to make it tougher so that you can argue your case.
  • Getting a allow will improve your property taxes. Elevated property taxes are the principle purpose why individuals don’t rework with permits. The opposite causes are time and coping with the inspectors.
  • Think about using a property tax lawyer to combat for you and save time. You normally simply should pay a portion of your tax financial savings throughout the first 12 months.
  • Discover your restrict by way of how a lot bodily actual property you need to personal and property taxes you need to pay. After the restrict is reached, begin investing in passive actual property investments as an alternative. Your time is value quite a bit, particularly as you grow old.

Readers, have you ever ever appealed your property taxes and misplaced? In case you misplaced, what had been the explanations given? Are you able to share some unfair practices or the explanation why the assessor’s workplace denied your property tax enchantment?

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