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December 28, 2011

Property reassesments: 17% drop in Md. home values since '08

A third of property owners in the state are about to get notices outlining their new assessments. If you're among the 631,000 homeowners in that group, chances are good that your assessed value is down.

Assessments for residential properties dropped an average of 17 percent statewide compared with the last time they were revalued in late 2008, the state Department of Assessments and Taxation says. About 90 percent of homes saw a decline.

More details in today's story.

Not sure whether you were due for reassessment? Check out these maps

Thinking of appealing? Your deadline is Feb. 10 if you've just been reassessed; you'll get paperwork with your notice that you can mail back in.

If you're among the two-thirds of property owners who haven't just been reassessed, you can still appeal -- it's called a "petition for review" -- but your deadline is Jan. 3. (That's because it's the first business day after Jan. 1. Assessments chief Robert E. Young says the office will accept petitions delivered, emailed or postmarked that day.)

Here are more details on petitions, and here's a petition success story. Application? Here.

And here's a post about the appeals process. (It's from 2007. Enjoy the blast-from-the-past housing market chatter.) The state covers the basics of various forms of appeal here.

Oh, and if you happen to buy a home during the first six months of next year -- or any year -- you can have your appeal considered for the tax year beginning July 1 if you get it in within 60 days of transfer.

But as colleague Alison Knezevich notes, the local appeals boards have a backlog of thousands of cases. So the wait might be longer than you hoped. (Appeals boards hear "second-level" appeals, cases in which the property owner wasn't satisfied with the response to his or her appeal to the assessment agency.)

Not sure if you applied for the Homestead Property Tax Credit for owner-occupiers? If you haven't and you're being reassessed, you'll get an application with your notice. No application means you have applied.

Check the notice to make sure the property is on record as a principal residence, though -- if it's not, you'll want to get that fixed and make sure you really are all set application-wise.

Homeowners who bought before 2008 have until the end of 2012 to apply for the credit or they'll lose the break. Newer purchasers have had to apply soon after buying. The requirement is supposed to make it easier for the state to knock ineligible recipients off the rolls and keep people from collecting unwarranted credits in the future.

Here's the application.

Let's see, let's see -- oh, yes, here's why your property-tax bill might rise in July even if your assessed value drops.

And no, the assessment agency won't strip your homestead credit because you had the temerity to appeal (assuming you're eligible for the tax break, of course), but successful appeals can result in credits shrinking or disappearing. Here's why.

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 6:00 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Property taxes


Only 17%?

At first the number seemed wrong to me given that the reality seems to be higher, even as high as 30-40% in some areas. Then I noticed the article said 17% since 2008.

I'm sure that if the price decline average was extended back to 2005 (the peak), you're looking at a 30% statewide average decline, with the usual more in some areas and less in others.

It's a reassessment, a revaluation at each property's current market values (which is lower than the 2009 values). It's not "another assessment" which implies an additional (higher) value on each property. It should result in fewer appeals if the new values are in line with 2012 true market levels.

Property Tax Appeal, the state Department of Assessments and Taxation uses both terms, as it happens -- what owners get when they're reassessed is a "Notice of Assessment" (

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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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