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Allegheny County Property Assessments: Appeal Deadline Looming

With less than three weeks from the filing deadline, Allegheny County property owners, municipalities, and school districts have filed just 2,000 property assessment appeals for 2015.  This number is substantially down from the roughly 10,000 property assessment appeals that were filed in 2014 across Allegheny County.  Consistent with years past, school districts have taken the lead in filing the majority of the taxing body initiated appeals.  In fact, property owners in Districts like Sto-Rox, Mt. Lebanon, and Avonworth have already begun to receive notice of the pending appeals of their assessments.  Property owners most vulnerable to an assessment increase are those who recently purchased a property at a price well above its current assessed value.

On the other hand, many property owners across Allegheny County remain over-assessed.  A proeprty assessment appeal could potentially save hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year in taxes.  Whether you are a property owner poised to challenge a school district appeal or are looking to file your own assessment appeal, contact the Kisner Law Firm today for a free consultation.  March 31st is right around the corner - don't miss out. 

Should You Appeal Your Allegheny Property Reassessment?

court-house.jpgYou just received the notice of reassessment for your Allegheny County property, and the assessed value went up significantly. You no doubt have a lot of questions on your mind. How much are your taxes going to go up? Should you file an appeal? Should you file an informal or a formal appeal? How do you know whether your appeal case is strong? What kind of evidence is persuasive at the appeal hearing? What are the risks with filing an appeal? The Kisner Law Firm is representing homeowners from all over Allegheny County, helping them to answer these questions.

How much will your taxes increase?

It is difficult to say how much your taxes will change until the new millage rates come out for each municipality. It is probably safe to assume that the millage rates will be adjusted, though. In most areas, assessed values went up, which means the taxing authorities are required to adjust their millage rates down. For many property owners, even though their assessed values went up, their taxes will actually go down because of the millage rate adjustments. See a previous article with examples using estimated millage rates for the City of Pittsburgh.

What makes a strong case for appeal?

Appealing a property assessment is a complicated legal action, but some general principles apply to most cases. These are the most common factors that we see that contribute to the strength of a case:

  1. The recent sale of the subject property. If you recently (within the past 2-3 years) bought your house for an amount less than the assessed value, that is a great argument for reducing the assessment. If, however, you recently purchased your house for an amount greater than the assessed value, that will be strong evidence against any reduction. It's hard to argue that you bought a property for one price, but it is actually worth less than that. It's not an impossible argument, though, and an attorney can help make that case stronger.
  2. Recent comparable sales. The recent sales of comparable properties is usually the backbone of a strong appeal case. If we can find issues to critique with the comparables listed in the county database, we do that as well. We like to find comparable sales that:
    •  
      • are within the last 18 months from the appeal date
      • are within .8 miles distance from the subject
      • have similar physical characteristics (frame/brick, stories, year built, bedrooms, bathrooms, condition, etc.)
      • are the same type of building (rowhouse, condo, multi-family, etc.)
  3. Defects in the property or mistakes in the county data. Physical defects in the property are important, but may not be recorded in the county database. If a roof is damaged and in need of repair, or if there are other issues, those can be evidence of a lower value. Sometimes the county data is simply mistaken on a statistical issue like the square footage. In that case, correcting the mistake can support a lower value.
  4. Appraisals. If good comparables and other arguments are not available, it may be a good idea to order a professional appraisal of the property. This involves an additional cost, typically a few hundred dollars, but it can be persuasive evidence for a lower value.
Should you file an informal or formal appeal?

If good evidence like the kind described above is available to support a lower assessed value, it may be worth it to appeal assessment by Allegheny County. Both informal and formal appeals are availableand effective in getting assessed values actually reduced. For several reasons, retaining an experienced real estate attorney can improve your chances of success at an appeal hearing.

Receive a free initial evaluation from the Kisner Law Firm

If you are thinking of filing an appeal, the Kisner Law Firm can provide you with a free initial evaluation of your property and the kind of case we can put together for your appeal. Our firm has a powerful 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. Find out today if you can save money by appealing your property assessment. Contact the Kisner Law Firmfor an evaluation of your property.

Remember the deadline to file an appeal is April 2, 2012.

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.

5 Assessment Appeal Success Stories

pillars-smooth.jpgProperty owners considering an assessment appeal want to know what their chances of success are. We can tell quickly and with high confidence whether your property is over-assessed. You can rely on our experience in real estate law to help lower your assessments. We have successfully represented property owners from all over Allegheny County, helping them to win lower assessed values and lower tax bills. Below are just five success stories from our firm's assessment appeal work.

Property 1: South Fayette

The first example client comes from South Fayette. We were able to lower this assessed value from $192,500 to $173,000, saving the owner over $600 per year in taxes.

Property-1.jpg

Property 2: West View

This second property was located in West View, and the Kisner Law Firm fought to have the assessed value reduced by over $100,000, which saved the owner $3,440 in taxes every year.

Property-2.jpg

Property 3: Pittsburgh

The owner of this third property received a post-appeal assessment that was less than one third of the original assessed value. That owner's tax bill was reduced by 71%, or $941 every year.

Property-3.jpg

Property 4: Pittsburgh

The fourth property, also located in Pittsburgh, was originally assessed by Allegheny County at $361,000. After the property owner came to the Kisner Law Firm, we were able to reduce that value to just $175,000, which cut the owner's property tax bill in half from over $10,000 to barely over $5,000 per year.

Property-4.jpg

Property 5: Pittsburgh

The last success story comes from a Pittsburgh property that was assessed at $175,000. We fought to reduce that value down to $82,500, which shaved off more than half of the annual property tax bill, saving the owner almost $3,000 per year.

Property-5.jpg

We believe that clients of the Kisner Law Firm deserve aggressive representation from an attorney who can get the best results. In this area of law, the best results can mean immediate savings of hundreds or thousands of dollars per year in property taxes. The real estate assessment system in Allegheny County is in chaos this year, and thousands of property owners will pay too much in taxes unless they take the right steps to appeal their assessed values.

Allegheny County Assessments: March Notices

Thumbnail image for BW-SQ-City-County-Bldg.jpgMany thousands of Allegheny County property owners have already received notices of their new assessed values. Shocking increases in values have owners asking what it means for their taxes and what they can do about it. Thousands of appeals have already been filed, challenging the unfair tax assessments.

Only one final group remains to be notified. Residents in the northern areas of Allegheny County are asking where their notices are and when they will find out how their assessed property values are affected. The following municipalities should expect to see their new assessed values after they are mailed on March 2, 2012:

  • Aleppo Township
  • Aspinwall Borough
  • Avalon Borough
  • Bell Acres Borough
  • Bellevue Borough
  • Ben Avon Heights Borough
  • Ben Avon Borough
  • Blawnox Borough
  • Brackenridge Borough
  • Bradford Woods Borough
  • Cheswick Borough
  • Coraopolis Borough
  • Crescent Township
  • East Deer Township
  • Edgeworth Borough
  • Emsworth Borough
  • Etna Borough
  • Fawn Township
  • Findlay Township
  • Franklin Park Borough
  • Frazer Township
  • Fox Chapel Borough
  • Glenfield Borough
  • Glen Osbourne Borough
  • Hampton Township
  • Harmar Township
  • Harrison Township
  • Haysville Borough
  • Indiana Township
  • Ingram Borough
  • Kennedy Township
  • Kilbuck Township
  • Leet Township
  • Leetsdale Borough
  • Marshall Township
  • McCandless Township
  • McDonald Borough
  • McKees Rocks Township
  • Millvale Borough
  • Moon Township
  • Neville Township
  • North Fayette Township
  • Oakdale Borough
  • O'Hara Township
  • Ohio Township
  • Pennsbury Village
  • Pine Township
  • Reserve Township
  • Richland Township
  • Robinson Township
  • Ross Township
  • Sewickley Borough
  • Sewickley Heights Borough
  • Sewickley Hills Borough
  • Shaler Township
  • Sharpsburg Borough
  • Springdale Borough
  • Springdale Township
  • Stowe Township
  • Tarentum Borough
  • Thornburg Borough
  • West Deer Township
  • West View Borough

When you receive your new assessment in the mail, contact the Kisner Law Firm to determine if an appeal can save you money. Our success stories show how much money owners can save from fighting back against their assessed values. A successful appeal can mean hundreds or thousands of dollars in savings every year, making it worthwhile to hire an experienced real estate attorney.

Kim Kisner has been representing owners in real estate assessment appeals for years, helping them to reduce the assessed values of their homes and other properties. For a low flat fee, the Kisner Law Firm will represent you throughout the entire appeal process:

  • We will file a formal appeal
  • We will gather evidence that supports a lower assessed value
  • We will represent you at the hearing (you don't even need to come)
  • We will appeal to the next level, the Board of Viewers, if necessary to fight for a lower value

Allegheny County Assessments: February Notices

wall.jpgEarly this week, tens of thousands of residents in Allegheny County received their new property assessment notices. These assessed values, which are used to calculate the property taxes owed, increased dramatically for most homeowners, who now have big questions on their minds. Residents in the City of Pittsburgh and some other areas already received their notices in December or January. The last of the Allegheny County residents should expect to see their new assessment notices in early March.

Below is a list of the municipalities that received their notices this week:

  • Baldwin Borough
  • Baldwin Township
  • Bethel Park Borough
  • Brentwood Borough
  • Bridgeville Borough
  • Carnegie Borough
  • Castle Shannon Borough
  • Collier Township
  • Crafton Borough
  • Dormont Borough
  • Green Tree Borough
  • Heidelberg Borough
  • Homestead Borough
  • Jefferson Hills Borough
  • Mount Lebanon
  • Munhall Borough
  • Pleasant Hills Borough
  • Rosslyn Farms Borough
  • Scott Township
  • South Fayette Township
  • South Park Township
  • Upper St. Clair Township
  • West Elizabeth Borough
  • West Homestead Borough
  • West Mifflin Borough
  • Whitaker Borough
  • Whitehall Borough

Property owners who saw high increases or who think their assessed values are too high should file formal appeals to get their values reduced. The deadline for filing appeals is in early April, and thousands of Allegheny County homeowners have already filed appeals.

The Kisner Law Firm represents property owners through the formal appeal process. Our resources and experience allow us to work toward the best possible outcomes for our clients. For a low flat fee, we take care of the entire appeal process from beginning to end:

  • We file for a formal appeal
  • We gather evidence that supports a lower assessed value
  • We represent you at the hearing (you don't have to come)
  • We appeal to the next level, the Board of Viewers, if necessary to fight for a lower value

Although nobody can guarantee a particular result, in our experience, the vast majority of our clients are thrilled to see significant reductions in their assessed values. The reductions in their assessed values mean hundreds or thousands of dollars in savings every year, which makes hiring an experienced real estate attorney a good investment.

Property Tax Assessment Appeals

city-06-flip-300x137.jpgProperty owners in Allegheny County know that the property tax assessment system is chaotic. In 2012, owners are seeing their assessed values increase significantly, and many need an experienced real estate attorney to represent them through the appeals process to fight increased taxes.

Typical property owners really only have two questions on their minds: How much are my taxes going to go up, and what can I do about it?

How much are my taxes going to go up?

The exact amount of your tax increase is difficult to predict at this point. It is not necessarily true that if your assessed value increased that your property tax bill will increase. Pennsylvania law requires the millage rate to be adjusted to account for higher assessments. For City of Pittsburgh residents, the millage rate was .02981. So a property assessed at $100,000 owed $2,981 per year in taxes. The new millage rate has been unofficially predicted to be .0198, so now a property assessed at $100,000 would now owe $1,980, about $1,000 less per year.

But what if you owned a house that was assessed at $100,000 that was increased by 50% to $150,000? Using the old assessed value and the old millage rate, you owed $2,981 in taxes. Using your new assessed value and the predicted new millage rate, your taxes would be $2,970, virtually the same. So although most property owners saw their assessed values increase, their taxes may not go up at all, and may even go down.

Many owners saw their assessed values go up by much more than 50%, though, and they will see much higher tax bills when the new assessments go into effect in 2013 unless they do something about it.

What can I do about it?

For property owners who saw their assessed values increase by 50% or more, or any property owner whose assessed value exceeds the property's fair market value, the Kisner Law Firm can help. For a low flat fee, we will initiate a formal appeal, represent you at the hearing, and appeal the decision to the next level if necessary. Virtually all of our clients realize immediate tax savings in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, and the savings stack up every year that the lower tax bill comes in the mail.

Kim Kisner has been successfully representing Allegheny County and Pittsburgh property owners in real estate assessment appeals for years. Success in a real estate assessment appeal means real tax savings of hundreds or thousands of dollars. A great deal is at stake for anyone going through the appeal process, and in this economy, you should rely on an experienced real estate attorney for the best outcome.

Read more about the real estate services that the Kisner Law Firm provides.

Read more articles about Property Tax Assessment Appeals.

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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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