Tax Assessment Grievance Day Is May 24, 2017 - Bring Your Comps!

Your tax assessment letter may have just come in the mail, letting you know how the City of Beacon values your property, and if that value went up or down. Maybe it's higher than Zillow's estimate, maybe it's lower. Whatever it is, if you disagree with it, you can dispute it on Beacon's Tax Assessment Grievance Day on May 24, 2017 at 1 Municipal Plaza (City Hall - Lower Level) at 2 pm (oh joy). The City advises that you bring your "comps" in order to aid in your argument. What are comps, you ask? They're the recent sales prices of homes similar (comparable) to your house in the same area.

This real-life Monopoly card could be a real bummer, or nothing at all. "Be aware that if you put the property on the market via MLS, the tax assessor will value the property at what you value it, namely the sales price that you've put on the property. They actually check MLS!" advises local realtor, Daniel Aubry. "I had that happen to me. I put a highly optimistic price on a house that I owned to test the market. The assessor used that price for the following year's assessment, significantly raising my taxes. I've been stuck with that price ever since!"

Can a high assessment ever be useful? "Any savvy buyer knows that the assessment bears very little relationship with the actual market value. So it can't be counted on for establishing a realistic valuation," says Daniel.

[EDITED 5/21/17] From this writer's limited real estate experience, if the bank appraisal value comes in low when you're ready to sell the home to a buyer who wants to pay more than the appraised price (a different valuation than the City's assessment), the bank will only loan as much as the appraised number, putting the responsibility on your buyer to come up with more cash - or for you to lower the house price.