Somebody asked my wife about this recently so I thought I’d document this for anyone else curious. Short answer is yes. Keep reading for the long answer.
Back around 2008 or so I called up our township assessor’s office for our county and spoke to a really nice lady about challenging their appraisal of what our house was worth. I did this mostly because at the time I had been following the housing bubble (since it burst in 2006) and I knew their numbers were BS. I promptly did nothing after that because I foolishly though that since they based their prices off a three year average they would drop without need for any effort on my part.
I was so wrong.
Flash forward to 2010. We decided to refi our 30 year fixed mortgage because the rates were a full point lower (5.875 to 4.625) and to do that we had to get our house appraised to ensure we weren’t under water on our mortgage. The appraised value was 25k less than what we paid for it in 2005 but we weren’t underwater so our refi went though without a hitch and all as well. Flash forward to December of that year and we get our yearly “Property Assessment Notice” from the county and sure as shit it went up again. This time it was a full 50k higher than what our recent home appraisal said for our refi. I know they say it’s an average but in a market like this I don’t how they can say that with a straight face when all it does is go up. So I came to the conclusion that they figure they can keep milking us suckers and only have to worry about the people that complain. In other words they’re never going to magically tell you to stop giving them money.
So once again I called up my county’s assessor’s office and this time they directed me to an online PDF to download and fill out….which I did. For some unknown reason I had to fill it out and mail in quadruplicate copies….but other than that all the info I needed to fill it out was included in the home appraisal we had done for the refi (mostly info on comp’s in the area). After I mailed it in I got a confirmation for a “Notice of Hearing” for my complaint form and all I did was show up on that day, wait 10 minutes then get lead to a room full of 4 people with calculators. I sat while they looked at the forms I had mailed in and pretty much after 5 minutes of tapping on their calculators they agreed with me. That was it. No big hoopla or anything really, they just said “yup, your house is worth 50k less than we’ve been saying”.
So flash forward and I get an official Notice of Final Decision on 3/28/11 and nothing else until last month where we got back a check from our mortgage company for $1,100 due to the escrow account having to much in it.
Oh and the best part. We just got our 2011 Property assessment and they dropped our house’s value again…another 4k. So it might be true that the prices are equalizing but I just don’t believe they would have dropped it 54k unless I challenged it.
So if you want to do something you usually only have a fixed window of time (ours was 30 days) after the Property Assessments are mailed out. You also need to pop for a home appraisal. That’s it.