Preventing 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 constituted of your day job. Nevertheless, the largest draw back is your property taxes will probably go up as effectively.

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

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

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

Let me clarify how this complete property tax ordeal began and a few classes realized if you happen to additionally need to get your property taxes lowered. I need to prevent time, cash, and stress. I additionally need to file my expertise so as to let go.

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

A Cheap Property Buy

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

The properties have been in a quiet neighborhood with a good quantity of land for the town. Additional, they have been priced at a reduction to the median value per sq. foot within the metropolis, which didn’t make sense. In each metropolis on the planet, water-view properties traded at a premium. 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 under its authentic asking value. I had initially supplied $1,550,000 earlier than it was listed however the sellers wished 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 value to $1,880,000 for at some point.

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. Lastly, I wrote a convincing actual property love letter that defined we weren’t speculators. As an alternative, we have been a household who deliberate to transform the house and dwell in it.

As an alternative of protecting the house available on the market for the “customary” two weeks earlier than setting a proposal deadline, they determined to simply accept my provide after solely six days on the MLS. They feared I’d 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 a whole lot of money and time. Nevertheless it was additionally a much bigger house 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 basic contractor to get the transforming 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 images of the property I had bought, who my agent was, and her contact info. By way of a collection of back-and-forth emails, I requested him why he was asking for all of this info.

Did I do one thing fallacious?

Thomas stated he was tasked to grasp why the property “solely” offered for $1,780,000. Their evaluation fashions flagged my property ought to have been offered at a better 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 one else was keen to pay extra, which is why I used to be in a position to purchase it. The market-clearing value was the honest 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 needs to be assessed decrease!

So, I wrote a letter in hopes the assessor’s workplace would conform to not assess my property larger than what I had paid.

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 offered as-is with no disclosure package deal. I now understand 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 footage from the MLS listings. I visited the property many occasions with a few skilled contractors. A variety 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 value $100,000.

2) There may be wooden rot in the main bedroom home windows and eating room window. All of the wooden and home windows have to be changed. Estimated value: $50,000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

9) {The electrical} is all knob and tube wiring, which must be upgraded. The fee 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 also be outdated and wishes substitute. Estimated value: $15,000. 

11) Outdated gravity furnace with tubes lined 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 may be the time it takes to do all these items and get a allow. We estimate every little thing will take 1.5 years to finish. 

So you may 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 Assist My Supply Worth

In the end, I needed to elevate my provide value 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 value of $1,880,000, in order that they went again to me and requested if I may elevate my $1,700,000 provide to $1,780,000. So I lastly acquiesced.  

1) The median house value 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 the perfect SF actual property analysis. 

2) Lastly, please see the gross sales value of Y Property Handle comp, one block down the hill from me. The ultimate gross sales value is $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 consider the assessed worth needs to 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 explanation why I purchased the home for $1.78 million was that no one else was keen to pay extra.


Sam (Proprietor)

A Cheap Argument To Preserve My Property Taxes Mounted

A fairly affordable argument proper? I assumed so. Worst case, I needs to be assessed at not more than what I paid for the property. That’s the means it has all the time been. The Workplace Of The Assessor-Recorder can’t simply make up a better property valuation so as to cost larger 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 assumed 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 motive:

1.     Was the house a fixer? Not a fixer-upper

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 affords have been obtained? Two affords have been obtained. (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 customer? Sure, agent for vendor and purchaser.

6.    Did the customer know the vendor? This was an at arm’s-length transaction. (A transaction through which two or extra unrelated and unaffiliated events conform to do enterprise, performing 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 pleasure. She most likely promised the sellers she may promote the property for way 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 customer.

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

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 responsibility to completely overview all sale transactions to validate its sale value. A part of this course of entails acquiring details about the transaction from all events concerned i.e. patrons, sellers, and brokers. 

With that stated, thanks for submitting images and different info already furnished to Mr. T. Nevertheless, we nonetheless want extra details about the sale itself to finish our overview and appropriately validate the acquisition value.

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 determine what’s being supplied so far as labor and supplies and its value.

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

Yow will discover extra details about the appeals course of by visiting their web site at Within the meantime, I urge you to offer the knowledge requested above in order that the Assessor can full its overview of this sale.

Ought to you’ve gotten extra questions or issues, please be at liberty 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 Worth

Holy crap! Now I felt like I had dedicated a criminal offense and needed to show my innocence! I instructed the itemizing agent, Lala, to ship within the supplies she had. Then I needed to ship within the contract I had signed with my basic 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 value 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 Assessed Value Of Rework

However the ache wasn’t over but. Not solely did the SF Property Assessor Workplace elevate my assessed worth by $100,000 over my buy value, however additionally they raised my transforming value by $55,000 as effectively.

I made a decision to apply for permits to transform my kitchen and three loos on the highest two flooring earlier than transferring in with my household. My contractor put the challenge value at an inexpensive $80,000.

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

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

I despatched them a number of comps that proved my buy value was affordable. However they refused to simply accept any of them. I then requested them to ship me the comps to show my larger value and so they 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 large 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 happening 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 accredited.

I all the time 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 basic contractor instructed 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 attraction. Certainly, 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 despatched in 3 BEST COMPS in accordance the (Board Guidelines) not more than 90 days after type 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 think about  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 (1-12 months) based on the attraction 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 may discover from the request, the property tax attraction is for the 2021 evaluation 12 months. It has nothing to do with me attempting to struggle the $100,000 enhance in assessed worth from what I initially paid for the property in 2019.

I had a robust feeling I wasn’t going to get wherever with Thomas. However given I paid a $60 non-refundable price, I made a decision to no less than ask him for recommendation on the way to discover the comps. Thomas really responded with some steerage.

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 Info” tab and get the actual sq. footage proper.
  • A variety of different web sites show “Advertising sqft” which isn’t helpful to check, sqft , bathtub rely might be verified utilizing Assessor Recorder public file. (see screenshot under)
  • When you search by deal with or (Block/Lot) , Click on “Assessor Abstract” to get Actual sqft , bathtub rely and so on… (see screenshot under)
  • You need to use one other web site so long as you Double Confirm Actual sqft , bathtub rely and so on… utilizing “San Francisco Property Data Map”

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

So right here’s a lesson to avoid wasting on property taxes. If the general public data present a smaller home with much less rooms, go away it alone! Don’t proactively replace your metropolis property data. Don’t let pleasure get in the best way. 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 the way to assess property values. In the event that they use Redfin, they most actually test Zillow as effectively.

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 combating my property taxes my greatest shot. A minimum of I cannot remorse having tried to struggle the ability.

Since 2019, property costs have moved up. Subsequently, 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 value and the assessed worth as a consequence of Proposition 13.

I’m blissful to have realized one thing in regards to the property tax attraction course of to share with all of you. Sharing useful info to probably prevent money and time is among the the explanation why I’m keen to battle a lot. There are millions of you on the market who really feel like your property tax evaluation is fallacious too.

I bought every little thing I may get out of the SF Workplace of the Assessor-Recorder and the Appeals Board. Once 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 might 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. In different phrases, they’ll change their actual property estimates over time in order to not look so fallacious.

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 correct factor and decrease my property taxes. Because of this, all of us should proceed to struggle on daily basis for our monetary freedom!

Classes Discovered From Preventing My Property Taxes

Should you plan to undergo the ordeal of combating your property taxes, listed below are some key takeaways:

  • You will need to anchor low to present your likelihood at profitable your property tax attraction. By anchoring low, you give your self room to barter up.
  • Unbeknownst to me, the property assessor’s workplace has the ability to worth your property at no matter they suppose is honest worth. They’ll cherry choose the costliest comps to justify their evaluation. Your grasp negotiating abilities might get punished.
  • If you don’t struggle your property taxes in a down market, don’t anticipate the Property Assessors Workplace to routinely decrease your property taxes. You will need to file a property tax attraction.
  • 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 pleasure, some folks have the need to make their property look as superior on-line as doable. Do the alternative. Because the property assessor’s workplace makes use of Redfin and Zillow to get an thought 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 loos.
  • Preserve a file of all of the crappiest comps that promote inside a 3-6-month timeframe from once you bought your property. This manner, you may simply use them if you happen to have been to ever file a property tax attraction. The assessor’s workplace will purposefully provide you with a tiny window for comps to make it harder so that you can argue your case.
  • Getting a allow will enhance your property taxes. Elevated property taxes are the primary motive why folks don’t rework with permits. The opposite causes are time and coping with the inspectors.
  • 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 lots, particularly as you become older.

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







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