Endsleigh specialise in Home Contents Insurance for people in the UK

Change of Assessment


We were notified earlier this month that our house had been reassesed. It went up 8.5% from the last assessment, which doesn’t seem terrible to me. But I have no basis for judgement.

In the note, it tells us that we can file a complaint on grievance day – March 24th. On the one hand, our house is a mess and there are tons of flaws an assessor wouldn’t necessarily know about that we could bring up as evidence of it being worth less. On the other hand, I don’t think their assessment is ridiculously out of the park. But I have NO experience with this, so I’m shouting out to all you home owners. Have you talked your way out of a higher assessment? If so, how did you convince them? And looking back, was it the best way to go?

Comments, Thoughts, and Feedback

Alex had this to say on 05.11.05:

Every area is different. It is largely based on teh real estate market as well as the few years prior assessments. Our assessment has gone up about 25% (yes, 25%) each of the 3 years that we have lived here. It is just the market really. We talked our way down on one occasion because a bathroom had been removed and the basement really wasn’t finished as the city thought, so that affected the next year’s assessment. Realize though, if your local real estate market bases anything on assessment, then the higher the assessment the better. Here it doesn’t matter, people are just running around with wads of cash in their hands asking every person interested in selling their house to “Please take my money.” Typical sale prices of houses in my area can be 20% to 45% higher than the assessed value. My parent’s assessment is based on sale prices of the neighbors houses, so when 8 years went by with no home sales, there were no increases. Our assessment is based on “Fair Market Value” of the house. Since the overall size and shape of your house has changed, you may want to consider mentioning that. Also that is it “uninsurable.” That may knock the assessment down a bit. Just some guesses

Victor had this to say on 05.12.05:

Hi, I’ve been reading about your adventures in home improvement for a while now, and I finally thought to chime in on something I’ve had to deal with a decent bit.

Given the condition of your house and the problems you’ve had insuring it, I’d definitely complain about it. When I moved into my house 3 years ago I promptly received a letter saying that the assessment on the house had gone up by about 5% (even though I hadn’t done anything to it besides buying it). I went to a hearing, took a bunch of photos of the house and they ended up lowering the assessment to less than what it was when the previous owners were living there. Last year I once again received an assessment saying that my house was worth 25% more than it used to be (even though I had done little work to it and the property values were relatively stable). I again protested it and again ended up with an assessment that was much lower than they had originally proposed.

Assessments are ultimately a way for the local government to get money so they are rarely “fair” at best they’ll be reasonable and sometimes they’ll be just plain wrong. Keep in mind that they didn’t go into your house to look it over thoroughly or really check it over in any way. In some places (like where I live in El Paso, TX) they base the assessment solely on your home’s square footage and the assessment of other homes of comparable size (with little to no regard for condition).

This is definitely one place where you don’t want to lead with your heart or emotions. Clearly you have a lot invested in your home, but if it’s condition was such that no insurance company would insure it, then I really don’t see how the powers that be could justify a re-assessment that’s 8.5% greater.

You guys are doing a lot of work to it so it will eventually be worth much more than that, but right now, and for the next couple of years or so, you can legitimately say that it isn’t. After all, you two are putting in and will put in a lot of sweat equity that will make a huge difference once you’re done, but right now you don’t really have the fruits of all that labor yet. You’re better off keeping your assessment as low as possible (and by extension keeping your taxes lower too).

I hope some of that helps. Good luck either way though.

mindy had this to say on 05.12.05:

Thanks, Alex and Victor, for your insights. My thoughts are similar – that we’d be better off with a lower assessment (and lower taxes) since we don’t intend to sell the house for years and years.

I think I’ll print out some photos and info and bring it down on grievance day. Can’t hurt to try!

Josh had this to say on 05.13.05:

Yes every area is different, but the one advantage that you guys have is a recent appraisal. Most likely when you got financing for the house they had to have an appraisal done for the verification on the loan. You can take the recent appraisal along with pictures of the home and submit them. That is if the appraised value of the home is less then what the assessed value may be. I hope this helps a little bit.

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