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Transcript: Lower your property taxes

Anchor Intro: Your local government figures property taxes based on an assessment of the value of your property, but you may not agree with this assessment. Bankrate.com tells you what to do to take the axe to your property tax.

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Voice over 1: If there's one silver lining to the dark cloud of plunging property prices, it's this: If your house drops in value, your property taxes might go down as well.

SOT: "When property was going up, everybody was getting their taxes raised. And when property's going down, they should get them reduced."

Voice over 2: He should know. Joel Greenberg is an appraiser and a special magistrate who presides over his county's property tax appeals.

Voice over 3: And lots of people do appeal. Property values are estimated by a computer, which means that your assessed value could be wrong, and you could be entitled to a lower bill. How do you go about it?

Voice over 4: You start with the annual estimate of your assessed value. This is what the powers that be think your property is currently worth.

Voice over 5: So first, check for mistakes: Is your lot size correct? How about your square footage? Don't just assume the county is right.

Voice over 6: Then see if the value makes sense. Get comparables by searching your neighborhood for homes that are similar to yours in age, size and condition. Real estate agents can help.

Voice over 7: And when you're convinced your assessed value is too high, time to get some proof in the form of an appraisal.

SOT: "The single most important thing is to get an appraisal on the property. Because that's a professional giving me his opinion on what the property is as opposed to coming in and just telling me you think property values are lower."

Standup: When you get your notice of assessed value, don't just stuff it a drawer. Look at it. And if you think it's too high, dig up proof, then talk to the assessor. Worst-case scenario? Civics lesson. Best case? You're going to save some serious cash. For Bankrate.com, I'm Kristin Arnold.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Posted: Dec. 31, 2008
 
 
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