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$200K Home Erroneously Assessed at Over $2 Million

In an astonishing example of property tax assessment gone awry, the case of Salina Contreras in Jackson County stands out.



Contreras, a homeowner since 2019, was shocked to find her property's tax assessment skyrocket from a reasonable $200,000 to an astounding $2 million—a 950% increase. This unprecedented rise led to a potential $40,000 tax bill, an error only discovered through a neighbor's suggestion to check online. The assessment was eventually identified as a computer error, categorizing the residential property as commercial. Despite the correction, the incident raises significant concerns about the assessment process and the onus on homeowners to identify and correct such errors.


How Real Estate Agents Can Assist Clients with Increasing Property Assessments


1. Educate on Assessment Processes: Real estate agents should ensure their clients understand the basics of property tax assessments. This knowledge includes how assessments are conducted, the factors influencing property value, and the timeline of assessment notices.

2. Monitor Assessment Notices: Encourage clients to be vigilant about receiving and reviewing their property tax assessment notices. As seen in Contreras' case, not receiving a notice could lead to missed opportunities for correction.

3. Provide Comparative Market Analyses (CMAs): Agents can provide CMAs to help homeowners understand their property's market value. This tool becomes crucial if there's a need to challenge an assessment.



4. Guide Through the Appeal Process: If a client faces an unreasonable assessment, agents can guide them through the appeal process. This guidance includes understanding the grounds for appeal, submission deadlines, and required documentation.

5. Recommend Professional Appraisals: In cases where the assessment discrepancy is not clear-cut, agents should advise clients to seek a professional appraisal. This step provides credible evidence for appeal.

6. Liaise with Local Appraisers and Tax Assessors: Establishing good relationships with local appraisers and tax assessors can be beneficial. Agents can obtain insights into assessment processes and advocate effectively for their clients.

7. Stay Informed about Local Real Estate Trends: Agents should stay informed about local real estate trends and assessment patterns. This knowledge allows them to anticipate changes that might affect their clients.


The case of Salina Contreras is a stark reminder of the potential flaws in property tax assessment systems. While Contreras was fortunate to rectify the error without financial burden, her story is a cautionary tale for homeowners. Real estate agents play a crucial role in educating, preparing, and supporting their clients through such challenges. By being proactive and knowledgeable, agents can safeguard their clients' interests and foster a more just property tax assessment process.


What's the largest rise in assessed value that you have seen over the years? Drop a comment below or share with a colleague in an upcoming CE Class!

References

"Jackson County Homeowner Stunned by $2M Property Tax Assessment on $200K Home." KSHB, 29 Jun. 2023.

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