CHICAGO, May 14 (Reuters) – One of the best investments I
made in my home this year was to hire somebody to prove that its
value had fallen.
I know this sounds daft, but it resulted in a lower property
tax bill. In our case, our taxes dropped by $1,000 to around
$10,000 for the 2011 tax year. But we didn’t challenge our taxes
ourselves – we will pay a specialized property-tax consultant
$250 – 25 percent of our tax savings – to appeal for us.
If you owe more than your home is worth and you want to stay
in your home – or just can’t sell – taxes are the one fixed cost
you can have some success in reducing. (You can also try to
refinance to a lower mortgage rate, but that can be difficult
or impossible when you haven’t any or enough home equity.)
To begin your home-assessment challenge, you can either hire
a consultant to appeal your assessed valuation locally as my
wife and I did, or do it yourself.
Part of this story is hardly satisfying. We knew our home
value declined by at least $50,000 in the housing bust. Our
estimated market value now is roughly what we paid for it more
than a dozen years ago when we built it. Fortunately, due to a
large down payment, we are not under water, although that equity
value probably will not be coming back soon.