ATTENTION AGENTS!!!

Attention Agents - The Coyle Group

Attention all Real Estate Agents!  Do you want to stand out from the crowd and really stay in the minds of your clients and prospects?

Well, you’re in luck…its tax appeal season!  For the next few of months homeowners across the Philadelphia region will have a chance to appeal their tax assessments.  This is a great opportunity for real estate agents to reconnect with current clients, old clients and prospects!  It’s also an opportunity to bring real value and show them that you’re not just any-old real estate agent but, a trusted partner who is looking out for their best interest.

Over the next few weeks, try reaching out to your old clients and prospects suggesting that they might want to consider appealing their taxes.  Show them that you’re looking out for them and want to help them save money.  Imagine how happy your client would be if you were able to help them save hundreds or thousands of dollars off their tax bills each year!

If you have any questions on how the assessment and appeal process works (in Philly, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester or Berks Counties) or how to figure out if your clients/prospects would be good candidates for an appeal, please feel free to contact our office.

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

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Tax Appeal Deadline Approaching!!!

The Coyle Goup - Tax Appeal - Philadelphia AppraisersHey, I know it’s kind of last-minute but, if you or your clients live in Montgomery, Bucks, Chester or Delaware County you have until the end of business August 1, 2015 to file the paperwork for your tax assessment appeal.  If you live in the City of Philadelphia you have until Monday, October 5, 2015 to file your appeal.  This is a great way to reduce your tax burden.  It typically involves filing the necessary paperwork with the county assessors office along with a fee.  You should check with your county assessors office to find out what the exact fee may be.

After that, if you live in the Counties, you will receive a hearing date at which time you will be able to plead your case in front of the Board of Assessment (please note that Philadelphia works a little differently, go figure).  You will want to take with you any evidence, photos or data that would demonstrate that your property is over-assessed (MLS Sheets will usually not cut it) .  The most effective way to illustrate your case to the board is with a current appraisal of your property showing that the value is less that implied assessment value and they you deserve relief.  Now, some folks represent themselves at the hearing, others hire attorneys to handle their case.  Either way the burden of proof is on the property owner.

Real Estate Agents: this is a great way for you to reconnect with past clients by offering them professional assistance without trying to sell.  Imagine how happy our past client would be if you were able to help them save hundreds or thousands of dollars off their tax bills each year!

If you have any questions or if we can help you or your clients determine if an appeal is reasonable, feel free to contact our office before the deadline.  We can also help you with an appraisal of the property prior to the hearing.  Good luck!!

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

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Thousands Saved in Property Tax!

Appealing your tax assessment can be very appealing!  One homeowner that we worked with this past September found this out first hand.  He received a 43% reduction in his overall assessment.  How does that translate into actual tax savings, you might ask?  

Well, in this case the house was located in Landenberg, in southern part of Chester County.  This area has seen some pretty steep declines from the highs of 2005-2007, especially in the luxury home market.  The house was newer and was assessed at $532,770. The Assessed Market Value (AMV) of the home was $951,375.  That means that they were being taxed as if the current value of their home was equal to the AMV amount.  Their annual taxes were in the neighborhood of $16,200 (ouch!)

Our appraisal of the house and determined the actual current fair market value to be more like $545,000.  At the hearing, we were able to demonstrate that our appraised value was indeed the correct value for the property.  The Board of Assessment issued a reduction of assessment based on the appraised value. 

In the end, this particular homeowner saved $6,966 off their property taxes.  That’s a nice chunk of change!  While results like this are not the norm, it is not uncommon for property owners to save 12-25%.  Depending on their particular property tax burden the savings can really add up! 

The bottom line is…if you don’t ask you don’t receive when it comes to appealing your assessment.  It is up to the property owner to initiate the appeal and to demonstrate that the assessment is incorrect.  Homeowners: it is in your best interest to figure out if your assessment is incorrect.  Real Estate Professionals: it is in your best interest to help your past and present clients do the same.

If you have any questions about property tax appeal or other value related topic, please feel free to call us at 215-836-5500 or email at appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

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Got UAD?

Got UAD?  If you don’t, you certainly will by September 1st, 2011. 

What is UAD you might ask?  Well, UAD stands for Uniform Appraisal Dataset.  It is the new format in which all appraisal reports will be completed if the loan is to be sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  The UAD was developed in an effort to standardize appraisal reports and to aide the GSEs (Fannie and Freddie) in better manage their loans and risk.  Since, most loans are sold to Fannie or Freddie, and since the VA and HUD have already agreed to adopt the new UAD format, almost all mortgage appraisals completed on or after September 1st will have to comply. 

The UAD will change the way appraisals are written and make understanding the reports even more complicated for the average homeowner.  Some of the changes are fairly minor; however, 0thers are more significant.  The biggest changes are in how certain data fields are populated.  Fields like Condition, Quality of Construction, Bathroom Count, Lot Size and View will see the most change.

Condition – rather than using terms like “Average” and “Good” to describe a property’s condition there will be a rating scale of C1 – C6.  Each rating will describe a specific degree of condition.  C1 will be at the high end and C6 will be at the low end of the range.

Quality of Construction – like Condition, this field will do away with descriptors like “Stone/Frame/Good” and “Vinyl/Average”.  There will be a quality range with standardized definitions from Q1 – Q6. 

Bathroom Count – the new UAD will standardize the format in which bathroom count is shown in the report.  Before, appraisers might use 2.5 or 2F1H to describe a home with 2 full and 1 half baths.  The new format will be shown as 2.1 baths.  If a property has 3 full and 2 half baths, it will say 2.2 baths.  Not that big a change.

Lot Size – lot size and acreage will be described in whole numbers.  Rather that an appraiser using 16’X 72’ to describe a lot in an urban setting they will use 1152 (square feet).  Acres will look like this, 3.2 to describe 3.20 acres.  Anything less than an acre will be in square feet.

View – the appraiser will have to use one of a number of abbreviations or acronyms to illustrate certain view attributes. They will also have to make a determination as to whether or not the view is “N” (Neutral), “B” (Beneficial) or “A” (Adverse).  So the UAD complaint View field describing a home with a residential, golf course location may look like this “B, Res, GlfCrs”.

Below is a guide that describes the Condition and Quality rating scales, Bathroom Count and some of the new abbreviations for View as well as other fields.

This new format may be confusing at first.  If you have any questions about the UAD or appraisals, please feel free to contact one of the appraisers at our office.

Please note that the UAD will not effect the way appraisals are completed for Divorce, Tax Appeal, Estates/Probate, Pre-Listing valuation, Commercial valuation, QRPTs or for determinations of Fair Market Value.

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Potential 32% Reduction!

A property owner in Whitpain Township contacted our office about doing an appraisal of his property for tax assessment appeal.  As we do with all of our assessment appeal clients, we ran the public records on the property and searched for any prior MLS data on the house.  This gives us a preliminary understanding of the property.

In this case, the house was a 5 year old 1 story rancher.  Not very common in this particular market where 2 story colonials are the norm.  The public records indicated that the house was over 5,100 square feet…large for a rancher.  Digging a little deeper we found that 2,000 square feet of the listed gross living area (GLA) was contained in the finished basement. 

Why does that matter you may ask?  Well, from an appraisal perspective, below grade living space is generally not valued the same as above grade living space; nor, is below grade living space included in the overall GLA calculations.  So, again from an appraisal perspective, the actual above grade GLA for the property is really about 3,100SF with 2,000 of finished basement. 

This matters when an appraiser is reporting the Fair Market Value (FMV) of a property.  FMV is the basis for a property’s assessment. 

 While an assessor, for the purpose of assessment, may value below grade living space the same as above grade space, an appraiser does not.  The reason being is that when appraising for FMV the appraiser takes into consideration the actions, preferences and trends within a given market.  In this case, Buyers within this market will generally not value below grade living space (no matter how nice) the same way they would value above grade living space.   For example, Buyers might be willing to pay $125 per square foot for above grade space but only $50 per square foot for finished basement space. 

The property we were looking at had an Assessed Market Value of $889,300.  They were being taxed as if their home was worth $889,300!  Their annual taxes were in excess of $14,000.  That’s a lot for a modest rancher.

Our initial search of recent sales showed no sales of 1 story ranchers in the prior 12 and 24 month periods.  So, we expanded our search to include any and all sales within the subject’s municipality and school district.  What we found was that the average sale in the prior 12 months of all homes in this area was right around $600,000.  Keep in mind that these sales are all 2 story colonials, some much larger than our rancher.   Without having done an appraisal of the property and only using broad averages of the market we were able to present the following scenario to the property owner. 

If the property were to appraise at the market average of $600,000 and this amount was agreed to at the assessment hearing, the homeowner could potentially reduce their assessment by 32.5%.  They would save approximately $4,550 per year in taxes!   Keep in mind that the average is based on available 2 story colonial sales.  Chances are that the actual appraised value of the rancher may be less than the average resulting in a deeper assessment reduction.

So as tax appeal season approaches property owners should take a good look at their assessments and the public data available on their property.  They should check for errors in the public records, especially incorrect square footage, room count and exterior features such as pools.  These are often incorrect in the public records and, if left unchecked, could greatly affect your assessment and tax burden. 

Real estate agents and other professionals that work with property owners, now is a great opportunity for you to offer a value added service to your past, present and potential clients.  Offer to conduct a review of their assessment card and public records.  If you notice something out of the ordinary you can bring this to their attention and instruct them on how to proceed.

If anyone has any questions about their assessments or how to proceed with a tax assessment appeal, please feel free to contact our office at 215.836.5500 or email appraisals@coyleappraisals.com .

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Assessment Appeals 101

Spring only officially began less than a week ago but, it’s not too early to start thinking about appealing your tax assessment.  Sure, you might think “the deadline for filing an appeal is still months away”…”there is plenty of time to work on the appeal in the Summer”…”geez, it’s not even Memorial Day, why worry about an appeal now?”  

Well, you would be surpized at how many people do begin thinking about their property tax appeal this early in the game.  It ususally occurs to folks when they receive their real estate tax bill in January and February. 

It’s this time of year that we receive hundreds of phone calls and emails from property owners who what to know if appealing their assessment is feasible.  One thing we’ve noticed is that many property owners have a fundamental misconception about their property taxes and how to go about appealing them. Most people think that they can appeal their taxes. Unfortunately, we can’t appeal our taxes. Sorry, folks, no such luck.

However, it is your right as a property owner to appeal your assessment. Your assessment is the underlying factor upon which your taxes are calculated. Given that most properties are taxed on an “ad valorem” basis, meaning the tax is based on the value of the real estate, your assessment should represent the current fair market value of your property.

Now, most counties in the Philadelphia metro region (including Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Berks, Lehigh & Northampton) have not been reassessed in years (it’s very costly to do a countywide reassessment). What this means is that the assessments may present an inaccurate representation of current fair market value. Now, as a means of trying to keep the assessments current with the real estate market, equalization rations have been developed in an attempt to make the assessments echo the current market. These ratios don’t always succeed in reflecting the market, especially the turbulent markets of the past 3-4 years. As a result, the assessment of a given property may be over stated, which translates into taxes that may also be overstated.

So, it stands to reason, if real estate values are declining your assessment should mirror those declines…right? This is done by filing a tax assessment appeal with your county board of assessment. Along with filing the necessary appeal paperwork, it is your responsibility to demonstrate that the assessment does not reflect the current fair market value of your property. The best way to do this is to present an appraisal report to the board at the time of your hearing.

Appraisals should be completed by a state certified appraiser (or licensed appraiser depending on the state) who is familiar with your area. In Pennsylvania, for instance, only a certified appraiser can provide an appraisal of your property. Anything completed by someone other than an state certified appraiser is not an appraisal.  Real estate agents and brokers cannot provide appraisals in Pennsylvania.

The deadlines for filing a tax appeal are usually in Bucks, Delaware and Chester Counties August 1, 2010 and September 1, 2010 for Montgomery County.  If you reside in any other Pennsylvania counties, please check with your county tax assessor’s office to confirm your county’s deadline. Remember, if you miss the deadline, you miss the opportunity to appeal and will have to wait another year (paying the same high taxes).

For more information or to see if you are a candidate for tax assessment appeal, please contact The Coyle Group. 

Note:  Be sure to visit our site from time to time over the next few months as we present a series of posts that relate to Tax Assessment Appeals and property tax reduction.

The Coyle Group provides appraisals for tax assessment appeals in Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Lehigh, Berks and Northampton Counties.  Call us at 215.836.5500 for more information.

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Tax Appeal Deadlines

We received a question today that was posted to our Ask PAB! page.  The question was a simple one but very important if you are considering to appeal your tax assessment.

“How strict are the deadlines for county tax assessment appeals?”

Simply put, they are very important.  If you miss the filing deadline you miss your opportunity to reduce your assessment for another year.  No excuses, no second chances.  In fact, not filing on time could cost a property owner thousands of dollars in unnecessary taxes.

The deadlines for the counties in the Philadelphia region are as follows:

  • Berks County, August 15, 2011
  • Bucks County, August 1, 2011
  • Chester County, August 1, 2011
  • Delaware County, August 1, 2011
  • Lehigh County, August 1, 2011
  • Montgomery County, September 1, 2011
  • Philadelphia County, October 6, 2011

If you are filing an appeal this year, we strongly recommend filing in person at the county assessor’s office.  When delivering your documents be sure to request a receipt from the clerk.  This creates a paper trail that shows when you filed and who took receipt of your documents.   If you are mailing your documents send them certified mail, so that there is a record of them being received.  The counties receive thousands of appeals each year and sometimes things fall through the cracks.

When filing be prepared to pay any necessary filing fees.  The fees will vary from county to county.  For any fees that pertain to your specific county we recommend visiting the Assessor’s website or calling their office.

You should also note that if the filing deadline falls on a weekend the assessor’s office may move the deadline to the following business day.  Again, this is something you should verify with your county’s assessor’s office. 

The appeal filing must be completed with appropriate documentation and fees no later than the end of business on the deadline date.  However, that does’t mean that you can’t file days or weeks prior to the deadline.

If you have any questions about tax assessment appeals please contact our office.  We will be glad to assist you.

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