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Appealing Michigan Real Estate Assessments

michigancountryroadIt’s that time of year again. Every year notices of tax assessments are sent out by the local real estate tax assessors. And, it usually goes up.

You have the opportunity to appeal this assessment. If you believe it is unreasonably high, you ought to do this.

In most townships and cities, the first thing to do is to call and schedule an appointment with the Assessor’s Review. This appointment will be at the township hall. Generally, appointments are scheduled in ten minute intervals. (If you do not live in the area of the property, you can file an appeal by mail.)

Upon arrival, you will usually be asked to review their assessment information on your property. Look this sheet over very carefully. We have found incorrect information many times over. I once appealed taxes on a particular piece of property and found the property was assessed as having a pool in the back yard. That particular property never had a pool, and the previous owners had paid taxes on the property for years based on an incorrect assessment including a pool. Sorry, no refunds!

You will be given the opportunity to present why you believe your assessment is too high. The reviewers may ask you questions regarding your property. The reviewers will often have their best poker faces on and you have little clue as to what they are thinking. You will be notified later by mail with the results.

It is very important that you have documentation as to why you believe your assessment is high. That should include a list of comparable properties in the same area that have sold for less. The best comparables are ones that have sold in the last twelve months. (Most local assessors do not accept sales that are foreclosures.) This information can be retrieved through the local county assessor’s office. Or, quicker yet, by placing a call to a local real estate agent for some assistance. Your success or failure will often be directly proportionally to the preparation you put into your research.

If upon receiving the reviewer’s decision it is not where you think it should be, your next option will be to appeal to the Michigan State Tax Tribunal. If you are confident of your homework, we encourage you to take this next step. You begin by asking for an appointment, but be prepared for a wait. The state moves very slowly.

The State Tribunal works a little differently than the township. You will again have the opportunity to present your documentation. The local assessors will also have to give their reasons why they have assessed your property the way they did. They do not have to do this at the local level. Another difference, the State Tax Tribunal will consider sale information of foreclosure sales.

This process is not difficult or costly. It is a case of nothing ventured, and nothing gained. You may be glad you did.

Written by Dave.