If you are a homeowner who disagrees with the amount of your home's latest tax appraisal, you can decide to challenge your property tax assessment. Anyone that owns their own home can do this themselves, or they can look into using a third party for help. There are a number of property-tax consulting firms and companies that are offering to do all the heavy lifting for you. They work with homeowners to help them with lowering their property taxes.
What are property tax consultants?
They are professional, certified tax consulting firms that will file your protest with the local tax assessor and also argue your case before area appraisal districts if the appeal process went that far. The value of these firms lies in their success rate. They possess a knowledge of the appeals process in local jurisdictions and they know how the mass-appraisal system works. They have information, knowledge, and tools at their disposal that the average homeowner does not have. They also have much better data on home prices, resources to rely upon, and also relationships to leverage.
How much do they charge?
Fees vary. Some consultants will charge a flat fee, and there are others that will work on a contingency basis and only charge you a percentage of your property-tax savings. So they will only charge a client if they are successful in getting your home's value lowered. So you only pay them if you save. The exact percentage will vary based upon the organizations qualification, the value of your home, and other factors. However, we have seen the contingency fees range anywhere from 20 percent of the tax savings up to 50 percent.
As an example of how this works, say they reduce your property value by $10,000 and your property tax rate is 3 percent. That will come to a $300 in savings on your tax bill. If they charge 50%, you will split the $300. You get $150 and they take $150.
Do I need a consultant?
You can try the process yourself. So while a property-tax consulting firms can be beneficial if you don't have the patience, time or the desire to learn the appeal process and protest yourself, you can in fact try this yourself and also save money by implementing the process. Learn tips how to challenge your assessment.
If you try this on your own, you need to be willing to put in the time, complete the research, and do the work. You will need to learn about your local housing market, and also understand the property-tax system and how it works. You need to do this upfront before filing your protest with the assessor.
Before you sign a contract with a company or consultant, be sure to consider many of these tips.
Deal with a registered consultant. Ensure the company's consultants are licensed by the state. Contact your local assessor for the way to verify this. Or search the Internet as well for information on them.
Agree to payment terms, whether a flat fee or contingency. Some contracts may be multi year. Make sure the contract does not have any variable fees built in.
Review the terms of the agreement you sign with the assessor carefully and make sure you understand them and keep a copy. If you do not understand the terms, do not sign it.
Use references from other clients, and ideally friends and neighbors who've used a consulting firm in the past.
Carefully study the solicitation letters sent by property-tax consulting firms to you and verify that the appraised value in the letter is correct, and what your home is truly assessed at. Ask them for how much they think they can save on the assessment of your home.
Check with the better business bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the company.
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