Helpful Data for Appealing Your Tax Assessment – Part 4 of 4

Here is the data to find your comparable sales. Part 1 of this series will give you an idea of how to use this data, but if you are confused or want further advice, call the Department of Assessments. They are very helpful and really want your assessment to be right!

Prince George's County
Department of Assessments and Taxation
Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation
14735 Main Street, Courthouse
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
301-952-2500 (phone)
301-952-2955 (fax)
www.dan.puma@maryland.gov

To find out if you are protected by the Homestead Tax Credit, go to http://sdat.dat.maryland.gov/RealProperty/Pages/default.aspx and scroll to the bottom. You do not qualify if the house is not your principle residence. If you want to see if the credit was applied on your current bill, go to http://taxinquiry.princegeorgescountymd.gov/

The Excel spreadsheet with all MLS sales in 2017, sorted by sold price:

Detail of each sale – Updated 1/21/18 Updated Cheverly sales detail description

Same info, all updated 1/21/18, sorted by:

Other articles in this series:

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Appealing Your Tax Assessment – Part 3 of 4

A little about the Homestead Tax Credit:

From SDAT: “To help homeowners deal with large assessment increases on their principal residence, state law has established the Homestead Property Tax Credit. The Homestead Credit limits the increase in taxable assessments each year to a fixed percentage.”

If you feel your assessed value is too high, but decide not to appeal, particularly if you are protected by the Homestead Tax Credit, that is your choice. However, if you think you might sell within the next 3 years, it might still be worth appealing as your buyer will have to qualify on the full amount of the tax payment. Buyers don’t get the protection of the tax credit until they’ve been in the house for a year.

The Homestead Tax Credit does not affect your assessed value. It affects your payment. You may appeal your assessed value and still not see a marked reduction in payment because of the cap that is in place due to the tax credit. And even though you just got the assessment letter, you won’t know what the actual tax bill will be until July.

For example, if your home assessed at $400,000 and you think it is only worth $300,000, you might choose to appeal. However, if you already are protected by the Homestead Tax Credit, your actual payment might not change by much. BUT – if you sell, then the buyer has to qualify on the full tax payment for that $400,000. So even if it doesn’t change your payment, it is still worth challenging.

To find out if you are protected by the Homestead Tax Credit, go to http://sdat.dat.maryland.gov/RealProperty/Pages/default.aspx and scroll to the bottom. You do not qualify if the house is not your principle residence. If you want to see if the credit was applied on your current bill, go to http://taxinquiry.princegeorgescountymd.gov/

More in this series:

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Should I Appeal my Assessment – Part 2 of 4

This is a series about filing an appeal for your property tax assessment. The information is generally good for all of Prince George’s County, but the data is specific for Cheverly (part 4 of this series).

From a neighbor who filed and got her worksheet:

“I got our house worksheet for the appeal, but didn’t understand a bunch of the coding and numbers on it.  So I called and spoke with Maureen Wilson at the Assessment Office – she is the one who actually  handles all of the appeals paperwork.  She spent a lot of time on the phone with me – though I’m still not sure of how some things are computed.

But the most important piece of advice was to come to our appeal meeting with the sales comps on all the Cape Cod 3bd/2bth/unfinished basements built about the time our house was.   She said to subtract out the flips and distressed sales.   And Voila!!! I pulled up your spreadsheet and sorted it on those items, and I’m all set to go to our hearing.  You saved me a bunch of time  (and it seems like we should get our assessment reduced!)   – Thank you , Thank you, Thank you!

  • Even if you don’t want to do an appeal, you might want to get the worksheet anyway – My assessment has a 12′ x 16′ deck on the house, which doesn’t (and never did) exist.  I’ve been paying for that ever since we moved in 19 years ago.
  • Pay attention to the two  areas where the house (Section 1)  and garage (Section 11) are rated for quality.  A 3 is Average, and your garage will be rated the same as the house unless you appeal.  If your house is more ‘original’ than ‘updated’ or ‘remodeled’, then your Quality might be more of a 2 – Poor, than a 3-Average.  You might consider going for a 2 rating on the house if you have water issues in the basement.
  • Measurements for both the garage and (in our case) brick trim, are supposed to be the square footage and will be listed under Size/Units.
  • The Curtilage code (Section 1) supposedly has to do with agricultural properties, and the code there should not have any impact on your assessment.
  • A Cape Cod is listed as 1.5 Story with Basement in Section 2.  The basement is considered unfinished, UNLESS there is an additional entry in Section 5 called Basement Room with additional square footage.”

More in this series:

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2018 Tax Assessment – Should I Appeal – Part 1 of 4

We had two great clinics this past week with over 60 people in attendance. Dan Puma, the Supervisor of Assessments for Prince George’s County, was there on Thursday evening and gave us so much good information. Our esteemed mayor, Mike Callahan, has gone through the assessment process before and had practical advice to give. Then, on top of that, one of our residents got on the phone with the assessment office and had some more insight to offer.

Here is what I got from above meetings, with a few corrections from Mr. Puma. His corrections/additions are highlighted with red text.

By the way, even though you got the assessment letter now, you won’t know what your tax bill will be until July.

  • Don’t get in the weeds. The assessment is a big-picture valuation, not minute nuts-and-bolts. If your house is generally within the range of similar houses, then you might choose not to appeal.
  • Start with square footage. Find houses that sold in the past 12 months and narrow down from there. If you have a 1350 sq ft house, find other houses in that size range, then narrow down to others that have the same style – brick colonials are not the same as frame ramblers – try to keep to houses that are as similar as possible.
  • Sales that settled closest to the date of finality, in this case January 1, 2018, are also considered better indicators of value.
  • From there, find houses that are substantially the same level of updatedness…in other words, renovated or flipped houses would be comparable to other flipped houses.
  • Note any substantial condition issues – failing roof or foundation.
  • If you have an appraisal from buying or refinancing within the past year and it substantiates your appeal, you should provide it.

The assessment office is not going to recognize small differences:

  • a 2 year old roof vs a 10 year old roof. For instance, a roof that is not failing is a roof and will be given the same weight regardless of age. A 2 year old kitchen is viewed the same as a 10 year old kitchen.
  • same with a finished basement – a basement is considered finished if it has a floor covering, walls and a ceiling. How good it looks is irrelevant. If you have added a bathroom, that may add value.
  • The more recent the sale, the more impact it has.

Other:

  • If you appeal and the assessment office finds that your house is worth MORE than the assessment, they will not increase your assessment in this 3-year period. Any additional information discovered may become part of the assessment record and included in the valuation process for future assessments.
  • You can appeal next year or the year after, but only during the proscribed periods. You will not get any further notices about the assessment until the next 3 year cycle begins. You can appeal next year, or the year after, but only by January 1 of the year you are appealing.
  • If you think your assessment is too high, go ahead and submit an appeal. That way you will get the worksheet on your house so you can verify that the data is correct. If you decide you don’t want to appeal, just cancel it.
  • The Homestead Tax Credit does not affect your assessed value. It affects your payment. You may appeal your assessed value and still not see a marked reduction in payment because of the cap that is in place due to the tax credit.
  • The assessment office is looking at averages for similar homes. They are not comparing your house to specific other houses.
  • The percentage of increase is mostly meaningless. What matters the current market value. You may have been significantly undervalued in a previous assessment. Focus on how your home stacks up to other similar homes overall.
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Are we really in an over-$400k market in Cheverly?

An enthusiastic Cheverly resident (who isn’t moving, by the way, so she doesn’t really have a vested interest in the answer) said that she had heard that houses are selling in Cheverly in the $400s. My quick answer was that Cheverly sales had dipped its toe into the over-$400k market, but found it a bit too chilly.

However, that made me think about backing up my answer with actual facts. So here is the “Over-$400k” funnel.

25 homes listed over $400k since the beginning of 2014.

Of those, 4 haven’t sold yet:
2 are new construction at $535,000 (1 active and 1 under contract)
1 is an older house with an addition at $650,000 (active)
1 is an older house that is nicely updated (under contract).

That leaves 21. Of those:
4 failed to sell and have not come back on the market as of the end of February 2016.

That leaves 17 that actually sold. Of those:
3 came on the market over $400k, but actually sold in the high $300s.

Now we have 14 that actually sold above $400k. Of those:
3 were new construction, built in 2014 and 2015
2 were newer homes, with amenities (2 car garages, etc.) more in alignment with new construction than the older homes.

Now we have 9 older homes. Of those:
1 was significantly larger than any other homes for sale in Cheverly (over 3000 sq ft above grade)

Of the 8 left:
7 were completely renovated (mostly as flipped properties)

And the last one sold in early 2014 and, in my opinion, was a fluke. I still can’t figure out how it sold as high as it did.

For me, this says that to get more than $400k, one of 3 things needs to happen – 1) we need low inventory and lots of actively-looking buyers to help prices go up, but I’m not sure we’ll see that this spring. 2) the house needs to be completely renovated or 3) it needs to be truly unique and special – hard to do in an neighborhood of mostly tract homes.

It looked like we were going to get there toward the end of last Spring and early summer, but the slow-down in the Fall put a definite slow-down on appreciation as well.

Here’s looking at 2016, though!

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