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March 16, 2010

No need for buyers to wait to appeal tax assessment

If you're buying a home in Maryland before July 1, add one more potential item to your to-do list: Appeal the property-tax assessment.

Anyone purchasing property in the first six months of the year can appeal within 60 days of purchase, rather than waiting around for the home to be reassessed. (Anyone can appeal any year, as it happens, but you'll have to wait longer for results to show up on your bill if you're not a new buyer.)

More details about the "appeal upon purchase" here.

Montgomery County resident Louis Wilen, who successfully appealed his assessment recently, suggested I remind you all of this option. "An 'Appeal Upon Purchase' is almost certain to result [in] tax savings for the 1/3 of homebuyers whose house was assessed in 2008, since 2008 assessments are based on bubble values," he wrote me.

"For example, there are many homes in my area that were assessed at about $600,000 in 2008, but have sold for about $500,000 during the past two months," he notes. "Every one of those homebuyers could potentially save about $1000 in property taxes when the bills come out in July -- but only if they submit an 'Appeal Upon Purchase' within 60 days of the purchase date." 

Have you appealed upon purchase? How did it go? (Or are you waiting to hear?)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Property taxes


Jamie I just recently became aware of your articles here on the Sun. I would LOVE to get a copy of all your previous articles. VERY insightful and reading material to all involved in or curious about local real estate!

Thanks, Jay, but you'd be inundated if I sent you all my previous articles. Keep in mind I write more than 100 a year.

The nice thing about this blog is that all the posts remain live. You can occupy yourself for quite a long time just reading back to post No. 1.

Tax, what a nasty three letter word when in comes to real estate and buying homes.

Being a real estate agent and specializing in agent training I often come across real estate students always getting stumped on the issue of home taxes assessments as well as property taxes in general.

Rightfully so because depending on the township you are dealing with and the type of access you may have to the tax records, the information obtained can be two years old, so then any good agent will contact the township for the accurate tax information.

The problem is some of (okay, most of) the townships when you call to get information on a homes tax assessment and/or current property tax amount, several times I have personally encountered an unfriendly employee on the other end that will try to brush me off with some generic information.

I will pose a question such as, will there be a definite answer of when the home will be reassessed or can you advise what twas the percentage the taxes went up from the previous year, and well, I suppose I am asking too much for either they do not know the answer and do not want to tell me that or they just don't want to be bothered.

In any case, I try to get as much information out of the local multiple listing service as well as the tax records so I can be as accurate as possible when speaking with a buyer for that is a major concern of theirs, and rightfully so, they want to make sure the taxes don't skyrocket the year AFTER they buy the home.

The best I can do and as your article stated, people have been getting their taxes reassessed so when I speak with a buyer I do ask them to speak with the township as well as I and we compare notes as to what the township has told us and go from there.

Thank you for yet another great article Jamie I really enjoy reading your posts!

I am curious if you were also able to find out about losing the Homestead Credit when you appeal?

Amy, thanks for sharing your experience.

Frank, thanks for the reminder -- I emailed that question and a few others to the assessment agency last week and never got a response. I'll need to follow up to see if the recipient actually got it.

I'm about to do an appeal on purchase. We just closed and I'm sending off the paperwork tomorrow. Our property taxes for the 1st yr were paid in full at the settlement table as requirement of the incentives program we used, but I'm assuming the difference (probably about $750) resulting from our purchase price of ~20k below assessment will be applied towards next year's payments.

The information on this blog was helpful . We probably would've appealed either way, but having read here for about the past year, I was actually knew ahead of time that property taxes would be reduced so I always looked at the current property taxes with skepticism, knowing ours would be a solid 15-20% lower.

Going to apply for homestead treatment as well. Skeptical that it will make any difference for the next 10 yrs, while assessed values should stay low and property taxes unlikely to rise (that would be insane). To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if property taxes drop a little in the city when the current revenue crisis passes. I feel like a well-publicized drop in the city's property tax rate could be a boon to marginal areas of the city around the popular areas--areas that are semi-rundown now but very close to "hot spots".

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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
Baltimore Sun articles by Jamie

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