Friday, June 19, 2009

How Do I Correct the Records for My Home?

By Valerie Faltas, Property Tax Expert

Frequently the Assessors property records are not accurate since the Assessor's Office is a massive processing government organization and possibly the work was done very fast, or the information varied without their knowledge or there was documentation that slipped through the cracks. The reasons are endless, however the great thing is that the answer to this problem is simple. Every home there is a building record with the Assessor's Office which includes a drawing of the shell of the building and details about the house.

Assessors maintain very detailed records based upon their tools, staff and workload. The records on your property are for the purpose of valuation even though other industry professionals use the data provided by the Assessors Office to substantiate house records. From the sketch of your home the square footage of the property is calculated, then the description includes the type of property, the use type, and any other details that may be pertinent to the assessment of the property.

These are the records that most real estate transactions are based on even though the Assessor makes no representation of having complete information for valuation purposes. The information is meant for assessment purposes only, however in reality it is generally the practice of real estate professionals to use as official for purchases, sales, re-finances and other transactions. Which means having your records accurate will more than likely affect the value of your home since the banks, buyers, sellers, etc. all use these records to verify what is on your home.

When the information for your propety are incorrect it is very simple to adjust and/or update them. Simply contact your county Assessors Office via the internet or phone and ask to have the records updated. Within the Assessors Office this is called a public service request and will be forwarded to an appraiser who will either speak to you and/or make an appointment to visit your property to measure or find out what the differences are and then make the adjustments accordingly. Very often the Assessor will take your word for it if it is something simple such as a bedroom count update. This is a very simple process and can easily be handled. If there is an addition to your property that you constructed and was never assessed, it may result in an increase in your property tax base however, if the error is the Assessor's fault there is a statute of limitations so ask about this when making your inquiry.

Note that if differences were done prior to your purchase of the home it possibly is construction before transfer and if you acquire the residence with the structure differences already there, often thre will be no rise in your property taxes that would result from the record update. The logic behind this is, is that you paid for those improvements at the time you purchased the house and so there is no increase in worth. But, if you enhanced your property then there could be an adjustment in the value. The Assessor's Office may ask for information and documentation from when you purchased the house such as the listing information. Often, the Assessor will go based on your word and will update the records through a phone call especially for simple adjustments.

Remember as you think about requesting these changes and adjustments that the Assessor's Office is usually not connected to your city. The Assessor's Office needs truthful data so the assessments of your home are accurate. The Assessor usually doesn't care if what you have on your property is legal or not because even when not permitted it may add value to your property. The Assessor wants to keep an open channel of communication with the taxpayers so they generally don't get into the habit of reporting anything whether structure related or not. The Assessor is not generally in the practice of telling the city what is or isn't on your property. When taxpayers think of the Assessor or the City they often think these government entities as the same when they are usually totally seperate.

About the Author: Valerie Faltas, Property Tax Expert worked in assessments for over four years and assessed over 6,000 properties. Valerie is also a licensed appraiser, real estate investor and consultant. She left the Assessor to make information public she could not disclose while she worked there.

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