CINCINNATI — Home values are up sharply this year in Ohio, and that is likely to lead to bigger property tax bills.
But you still have two weeks left to fight your valuation hike.
Homeowners all over Ohio are grumbling about their new property valuations, in letters that arrived from their county auditors the past three months.
Christie Comb's Hamilton County home has seen its value jump from $304,000 to $346,000, since the last county appraisal three years ago.
"I am assuming that, like most people, ours went up substantially," Combs said.
Larry Dienger's West Chester home was also hit with a huge increase.
"My home value, percentage increase, went up 36 percent," he said.
But Cincinnati lawyer Jeffrey Levine of Strauss Troy attorneys says you might be able to get that new value lowered if you file an appeal with your county's board of revision by March 31.
Levine says, unfortunately, many challenges fail because the homeowners make a common mistake when they try to contest their property's valuation.
They say, "Hey, look at my neighbor's house, and it's valued much less than mine."
But Levine says that rarely works because values are based on recent sales, not on your neighbor's home that hasn't sold for 10 years.
Rather, he says there are three ways to challenge your new value.
How to dispute your new higher valuation
1. If you recently bought your home for a lower price than the auditor's valuation in the past year, present the closing price to the board.
"They are going to change it to what you paid for the property, almost every single time," he said.
2. Show the board nearby homes that have recently sold for less than your home's value.
"If they sold their house down the street for $50,000 less than the auditor's value of your property, you can present evidence of that," Levine said.
He says you have a strong case at that point.
3. Pay for a professional appraisal, proving the county's value is too high.
"This requires a little more risk," he said, "because the property owner is going to have to outlay costs to pay the appraiser to do the appraisal."
But if the appraiser finds your house is really worth $20,000 less than the county's new value, then you have a very strong case.
Finally, he says if you sense a major discrepancy that could raise your tax bill by several thousand dollars a year, it makes sense to hire a real estate attorney to file the challenge for you.
It will cost money but could save in the long term.
Levine says you don't have to put together your whole case by the March 31 deadline. You just need to file your appeal by that date.
As always, don't waste your money.
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