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March 2012 Archives

Status of Formal Assessment Appeals in Allegheny County

Pillars.jpgA lot has happened with the Allegheny County assessment appeals, but what is the status now? The deadline to file an appeal for the 2013 reassessed values was April 2, and many property owners elected to file appeals. Now, those property owners may be wondering how soon their appeals will be scheduled and how long this process will take before it is all over.

Record number of appeals filed

The media coverage shows how controversial the recent reassessment was. In fact, the Allegheny Office of Property Assessments reports that in total, 134,725 formal appeals were filed. Of those, only 22,361 had been entered into the system and only 2,227 had been scheduled as of early May. This printout directly from the county (PDF) shows the current status of the formal appeals.

Long-time residents of Allegheny County remember the last county-wide reassessment which was held in 2002. In that year, 92,920 appeals were filed. The total number filed challenging the 2013 reassessment represents an increase of about 45%. In a typical year (one without a county-wide reassessment), the county usually only receives a few thousand appeals.

Anticipated schedule for formal hearings

Given the unprecedented number of appeals filed, it is difficult to predict what the schedule will look like for the rest of the year. In a typical year, the deadline to file appeals is March 31 and most hearings are completed over the summer. This year, the hearings will likely stretch well into the fall months.

In our experience, the county staff has been very friendly and helpful, despite the fact that they are very busy with such a large number of appeals. The employees there are doing the best they can with limited resources. It may take the county some time to enter the rest of the thousands of appeals filed. In the past month, they have been able to process 16.5% and schedule 1.6%. Most owners who filed appeals will have to wait several more weeks at least before learning when their appeal hearings will be scheduled.

Consider legal representation

If you are among the property owners who filed a appeals and are waiting for a hearing to be scheduled, you should consider retaining an attorney to represent you. An experienced real estate attorney will help you avoid the most common mistakes and help you put together the strongest possible case for the lowest possible assessed value.

You are not required to have an attorney to appeal your property assessment, but there are many advantages of having one. If you choose to represent yourself at the formal hearing without being properly prepared, be advised that the assessed value for your home may actually increase as a result of the hearing.

The Kisner Law Firm

The Kisner Law Firm is already representing hundreds of owners across Allegheny County, and we can step in at any time up until your hearing if you have one coming up. We need at least one week notice before the hearing date so we can fully prepare. When the hearing date arrives, you don't even need to attend. For a low flat fee, we will take care of everything for you at the informal and formal hearings, and even at the Board of Viewers (if necessary). The Kisner Law Firm can provide you with a free evaluation of your case and the kind of evidence we can put together for your appeal. Our firm uses professional-level real estate tools including a real estate database powered by RealSTATs that allows us to analyze any property in Allegheny County by looking at the statistical information and comparable sales data. Contact the Kisner Law Firm today for an evaluation of your case so you can win the fight to lower your real estate taxes.

Need an Attorney to Appeal a Property Assessment?

BW-SQ-City-150x150.jpgThousands of Allegheny County owners are appealing their unfair property assessments. Some of those who are still deciding wonder if they should hire a law firm or attorney to assist them with their appeal. The short answer is that you can appeal your property assessment on your own, but you probably should use the services of a professional, experienced real estate attorney to help ensure that you get the best possible outcome. An attorney can help make sure the process goes smoothly and the ultimate assessed value is as low as possible.

Doing it yourself

Forms are available from the Allegheny County Office of Property Assessments, and it is possible for homeowners to file their own appeals and represent themselves at the hearing. Just like in other legal proceedings, it is possible for an individual to appear pro se, acting as his or her own attorney. The Allegheny County Assessment website is available for owners to search for comparables and other evidence supporting a lower value. But the county site is not user-friendly, and is unlikely to give you the best evidence.

Benefits of an attorney

There are many benefits to hiring an attorney to represent you through the property assessment appeal process. An experienced real estate attorney will:

  • Make sure that the proper paperwork is filed at the right place and by the right deadline to initiate the appeal process
  • Use powerful professional-level tools to search for the best available comparables
  • Assemble a persuasive stack of evidence supporting a lower assessed value
  • Make the right objections and the right arguments at the formal appeal hearing
  • Continue the fight to the next level, the Board of Viewers, if necessary
Is it worth it?

Is it worth hiring an attorney?

Many people do not know this, but your assessed value can even go up as a result of your appeal. Just because you file the appeal doesn't mean that the only two outcomes are for the assessed value to stay the same or go down. You can bet that the taxing authority on the other side of the appeal will bring an experienced lawyer to fight for a higher value.

If you can reduce your assessed value by a significant amount, that means hundreds or thousands of dollars in savings to you when your tax bill comes. And the savings add up year after year. With so much at stake, it is pretty safe to say that if your property is worth appealing, it is worth hiring a professional to help. Hiring an attorney usually pays for itself in tax savings.

Deadline for filing an appeal

The deadline for filing an appeal is April 2. Contact the Kisner Law Firm today to appeal your unfair assessment.

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Kisner Law Firm, LLC
Gulf Tower
707 Grant St., Suite 2646
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
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Phone: 412-208-4263
Fax: 412-235-6704

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