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Attorney Anthony Cameron on Mount Lebanon Assessment Appeals

Anthony-Smiling-SQ-pic-bio.jpgHere is Kisner Law Firm attorney Anthony Cameron's take on the 150-plus assessment appeals filed in Mount Lebanon against newly purchased properties.

If you're a new home buyer who has received a notice that your property assessment is being appealed, a substantial tax increase may be at stake. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Assessing Your Reassessment - Allegheny County Assessment Appeals

BW-RE-SQ-300x300.jpgMillions of Americans spent Presidents' Day weekend working on their 2014 federal income taxes. Although many taxpayers painstakingly review their income tax returns to avail themselves of any lawful deduction, homeowners often forget to take stock of their real estate tax liability. Thousands of Allegheny County property owners will have the misfortune of being on the receiving end of a bloated property tax bill. Even though 130,000-plus Allegheny County assessment appeals were filed as a result of the 2012 countywide reassessment, thousands of properties remain over-assessed. Some school districts and municipalities have elected to freeze millage rates, but many are increasing 2014 millage rates. Whether the increases are the result of successful homeowner appeals or another revenue-generating directive, millage rate increases mean that real estate tax bills will increase.

Property valuation is not an exact science. Your assessment could be very different from your neighbor's based on the size and age of your home and the date of purchase. At Kisner Law Firm, we have the tools to assess your home's value and the experience to fight for a fair property assessment on your behalf.

The deadline for filing Allegheny County property assessment appeals is March 31, 2014, which is about two weeks before you have to answer to Uncle Sam. When it comes real estate taxes, don't leave money on the table. If you're considering filing an appeal of your property value, contact the Kisner Law Firm for a free consultation.

When to expect property tax millage rates for school districts

BW-SQ-City-150x150.jpgSome property owners in Allegheny County will likely have to wait until July before they know how much in taxes they will be paying this year.

State law gives Pennsylvania school districts until June 30, 2013 to formally adopt a budget for the 2013-2014 school year. The millage rate for property owners is determined by the amount of revenue allocated in each school district's budget after it is approved.

Though some districts, including the city of Pittsburgh, have finalized their budgets, most have not. The Moon Area School Board has begun the process, but is not expected to adopt a plan until June 24. Debate on the budget is well underway in Mt. Lebanon, but a vote is not expected on that budget until sometime in May. The same is true in many other districts around the county.

Will your taxes go up or down?

In light of the recent property tax revaluation, most millage rates will go down compared to the 2012-2013 school year. But, with an increased assessment, this could still mean that some homeowners will receive higher tax bills..

In addition, in the past two weeks, some homeowners have received notice that their tax bill is going to increase based on their school district's appeal of their current assessment. Many of these appeals are directed at owners who recently purchased their property for more than the assessed value of the home. Homeowners who find themselves in this position should consider contacting us to see if we can help.

The Kisner Law Firm

Though time is running short, the attorneys at the Kisner Law Firm are still able to help. Whether you are fighting to reduce your assessment, or to keep the school district from increasing it, our experienced attorneys can make all the difference. We have helped hundreds of property owners in Allegheny County reduce their property assessments. For a single flat fee, we pledge to fight for you through the administrative appeal process and even to the state court system to get the best possible result.

Whether you are just thinking of filing an appeal, or have already had a hearing and are unsatisfied with the results, the Kisner Law Firm can help. We can step in at any point in the process and fight for you.

We are happy to discuss your case with you personally to help you understand the process and to help you make an informed decision about pursuing a tax reduction or defending against a tax increase.

Contact one of our attorneys today by calling (412) 208-4263 or by sending us an email

Allegheny County, board of viewers, Court-Ordered Reassessment, formal appeal, formal assessment appeal, formal hearing, kisner law firm, late appeal, late assessment appeal, late property assessment appeal, Property Tax Appeals, Real Estate Assessment Ap

BW-Bridge-SQ-150x150.jpgAlthough the official April 2 deadline to file formal appeals is long past, Judge Wettick allowed hundreds of property owners to file their appeals late. Approximately 500 owners appeared Tuesday, August 28, to present their motions for late appeals. The county, municipalities, and school districts that could have opposed the motions for late appeals chose not to contest them, so the court granted the motions.

The next step for these owners is to wait until notified by the Board of Property Assessment Appeals and Review that the appeal has been processed. The county will automatically schedule an assessment appeal hearing.

How long does it take to get a hearing and get results?

In our experience so far this year, the county sometimes takes several months from the date of filing an appeal until the hearing is scheduled. We know that some appeals filed on April 2 still have no hearing date scheduled yet. When the hearing notices are mailed out, they may be sent only 1 or 2 weeks before the date of the hearing. We expect hearings to continue through the fall. We know the county is working hard to complete all the appeals by the end of the year.

After a hearing is held, the results are usually not mailed for another 6-8 weeks. If the property owner or a taxing body is not satisfied with the results, the case can be appealed to the Board of Viewers.

The Kisner Law Firm can help

Even though these owners won the right to have an appeal this year, they still need to win the actual appeal. If you are an owner who won the right to file a late appeal, the Kisner Law Firm is ready to step in and represent you to give you the best chance of reducing your assessed value. For a low flat fee, we will:

  • Analyze your property using our professional-level databases
  • Prepare a strong body of evidence for your appeal
  • Represent you at your hearing
  • If necessary, appeal to the Board of Viewers

We are pleased to provide all potential clients with complimentary evaluations of their properties. If we don't think the case is strong, we won't recommend that the property owner spend more money hiring an attorney. But if we believe we can put together a strong case, we will move forward with representation. If you have any questions about the assessment appeal process, or if you need representation for an upcoming hearing, contact the Kisner Law Firm today.

Allegheny County Reassessments - Final Informal Decisions

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Many of the nearly 69,000 Allegheny County property owners who requested informal appeals as a result of the $11 million court-ordered real-estate revaluation are still waiting on decisions from their hearings. These decisions could have a considerable impact on County property owners moving forward into the formal appeal proceedings. Approximately 47% of property owners who filed informal appeals were awarded a reduction in their assessed value, though some of these homeowners will see less than $10,000 shaved off of their tax bills. As a result, some of the 100,000-plus property owners who filed formal appeals may drop their challenges. Many property owners, however, will not receive a favorable decision. To be sure, half of of the informal appeals resulted in no change at all to the value of their property and three (3) percent even saw an increase in their assessed value. For these individuals, a special appeal may represent the best opportunity to effectively dispute their reassessment. Whether you have already filed a formal appeal, received unfavorable informal results, or missed the April 2nd deadline and would like to file a late appeal, the Kisner Law Firm may be able to help you.

Presenting Your Best Case

The Kisner Law Firm is already representing hundreds of owners across Allegheny County. 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. This methodology allows us to present the best possible case at your appeal.

Filing A Late Formal Appeal

While the deadline to file an appeal for the 2013 reassessed values has already passed, it may not be too late to get your appeal filed. In late August, Judge R. Stanton Wettick is hearing Motions to file late appeals. Following the procedures prescribed by the County, Kisner Law Firm can step in immediately on your behalf and represent your interests before both Judge Wettick and the Review Board. The experience and professional services offered by Kisner Law Firm can greatly increase the likelihood that your late appeal will be accepted. Don't miss out on the last opportunity of the year to save yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, in real estate taxes.

Kisner Law Firm

The Kisner Law Firm can step in at any time to provide representation, even if you have already had your formal hearing. When the hearing date or court date (for Board of Viewer appeals) arrives, you don't even need to attend. For a low flat fee, we will take care of everything for you at the formal hearing and even at the Board of Viewers (if necessary). We need at least one week notice so we can fully prepare. 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. Contact the Kisner Law Firm today for an evaluation of your case so you can win the fight to lower your real estate taxes.

Reassessing Property Reassessments

BW-SQ-City-County-Bldg.jpgAllegheny County Property Reassessments have been a hot topic for County residents and lawmakers for the majority of 2012. Recently, the Pennsylvania State Legislature removed a provision from Senate Bill 1546 which would have allowed counties to opt out of court-ordered reassessments. For Allegheny County property owners, this means that the County will proceed with the court-ordered reassessments and that property owners will see a change in their tax bills for 2013. Because it is unlikely that another countywide reassessment will take place in the next 10 years, these new values could stay with property owners for another decade. With tax implications potentially lasting another 10 years, now, more than ever, it is important for property owners to consider an assessment appeal.

It's Not Too Late

While the deadline to file an appeal for the 2013 reassessed values has already passed, it may not be too late to get your appeal filed. For those of you who missed the April 2 deadline, Kisner Law Firm may be able to help you with a late appeal.

In late August, Judge R. Stanton Wettick is hearing Motions to file late appeals. Following the procedures prescribed by the County, Kisner Law Firm can step in immediately on your behalf and represent your interests before both Judge Wettick and the Review Board. The experience and professional services offered by Kisner Law Firm can greatly increase the likelihood that your late appeal will be accepted. Don't miss out on the last opportunity of the year to save yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, in real estate taxes.

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 to provide representation, even if you have already had your formal hearing. We need at least one week notice so we can fully prepare. When the hearing date or court date (for Board of Viewer appeals) arrives, you don't even need to attend. For a low flat fee, we will take care of everything for you at the formal hearing 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.

Late Filing Your Allegheny County Property Assessment Appeal?

BW-RE-SQ-300x300.jpgThe deadline to file an appeal for the 2013 reassessed values was April 2, and many property owners elected to file appeals. There are, however, many property owners who did not file timely appeals for one reason or another. For those of you who missed the April 2 deadline, Kisner Law Firm may be able to help you with a late appeal.

Last chance to file your appeal

In July and August, Judge R. Stanton Wettick is hearing Motions to file late appeals. Following the procedures prescribed by the County, Kisner Law Firm can step in immediately on your behalf and represent your interests before both Judge Wettick and the Review Board. The experience and professional services offered by Kisner Law Firm can greatly increase the likelihood that your late appeal will be accepted. Don't miss out on the last opportunity of the year to save yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in real estate taxes.

Consider legal representation

Whether you are among the property owners who filed an appeal and are waiting for a hearing to be scheduled, or if you are considering filing a late appeal, 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 motion hearing, 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.

Property Assessment Appeals and Hearings

As property owners in Pittsburgh and across Allegheny County know, the 2013 court-ordered reassessment assigned new assessed values to every property in the county. Almost all assessed values increased, and many increased significantly. In response, thousands of owners filed informal appeals and formal appeals, challenging their assessments. Keep reading for information about the Kisner Law Firm, the appeal process, preparing a strong case, and frequently asked questions.

The Kisner Law Firm

Thumbnail image for BW-SQ-City-County-Bldg.jpgThe Kisner Law Firm helps property owners from all across Allegheny County in their assessment appeals. We can step in at any time up and take over the whole process for you. For a low flat fee, we will take care of everything for you at the hearing, and if we are not satisfied with the reduction, we will even take the case to the Board of Viewers with no extra legal fee. We request that you retain our firm at least one week before the hearing date so we can fully prepare to put on a strong case. When the hearing date arrives, you don't even need to attend. Just relax and let us handle everything.

We are proud of our record of getting great assessed value reductions for our clients. Read about our recent success stories to see the kinds of results we work to get.

We always provide a complimentary evaluation of the property and the strength of the evidence available before you retain us. Our firm uses professional-level real estate databases that allow us to analyze any property in Allegheny County. Contact the Kisner Law Firm today for a free evaluation of your property so you can win the fight to lower your real estate taxes.

The assessment appeal process

For the 2013 court-ordered reassessment, the assessment appeal process has several primary steps:

  1. The informal appeal. Informal appeals were held during the spring and summer months. The hearings were intended to focus primarily on mistakes in the county database regarding property characteristics (square footage, number of bedrooms, etc.). This gave property owners the chance to appeal in a more casual setting, without opposition from attorneys representing the municipality or school district. About half of the property owners who filed informal appeals received some form of reduction in value. But most of the reductions were minor, and the other half did not receive any reduction, so formal appeals were needed.
  2. The formal appeal. Formal appeals started in the summer and are scheduled to run at least until the end of October. You should receive a Notice of Scheduled Assessment Appeal Hearing in the mail at least two weeks before the hearing date. The hearing is an opportunity for the property owner or legal representative to present evidence of a lower value.
  3. The Board of Viewers. Several weeks after the formal appeal hearing, the disposition is mailed, which tells the owner whether the formal hearing was successful or not. After the formal appeal hearing, the next step is to appeal to the Board of Viewers, part of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.
Preparing a strong case

Chairs.jpgWithout strong evidence that the property is overassessed, the most likely result is no change in value. The most common reason cited in the disposition is "insufficient evidence." We know property owners hate to see an unfavorable result when they spent their time fighting an unfair assessment. After years of successfully representing property owners in assessment appeals, our firm knows what mistakes to avoid and what points to emphasize. These are the most common factors that we use to contribute to the strength of a case:

  1. The recent sale of the subject property. If you recently (within the past 2-4 years) bought your house for an amount less than the assessed value, that is a great argument for reducing the assessment. However, if you recently purchased your house for more than the assessed value, an attorney is probably needed to address that counter-evidence.
  2. Recent comparable sales. The recent sales of comparable properties is usually the backbone of a strong appeal case. We like to find comparable sales that:
    • are within the last 1-2 years
    • are a short distance from the subject
    • have similar physical characteristics
    • are the same type of building (split-level, 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.
For more information...

For more information, or for a free evaluation, contact the Kisner Law Firm today. You can also consult our Frequently Asked Questions page or our Legal Blog for more information related to the 2013 court-ordered reassessments and the appeal process.

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