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:

Posted in Taxes | Tagged | Leave a comment

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.


  • 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.
Posted in Taxes | Tagged | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Cheverly Market Update | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Every Picture Tells a Story…

How and why the Cheverly market changed in 20152015 Cheverly market activity

Yellow – the number of houses that were on the market on the last day of each month. It’s a snapshot of the market. More houses on the market – more competition.

Blue is the number of houses that came on the market each month – new listings.

Orange is the number of contracts accepted each month – we call them pending home sales. Pending homes sales are a leading market indicator of how active the buyer market is.

Gray is the number of houses that were taken off the market because they failed to sell.


2015 – February through August.  Houses sold almost as soon as they hit the market and often with multiple offers. It’s the usual story of supply vs demand and we had a very short supply of houses during the Spring market.  March and April were wonderful months for sellers, and probably more than a bit frustrating for buyers, since there weren’t enough houses to go around.

Market activity shifted a little over July and August – more houses on the market, but the number of contracts kept up.

2015 – September forward. The month that everything changed.

Imagine you are a seller who has wanted to sell for several years. Throughout the Spring, you see houses selling quickly and with multiple offers. By May and June, you’re thinking this is the right time to sell.  But it takes time to prepare a house to sell, and next thing you know, it’s September. But you figure that if the market was good in the Spring, it will be great now! So you pick a price that is…optimistic.

But a couple of things happened. 1) A lot of other sellers had the same thoughts you did. 21 sellers put their houses on the market in September and October. We had a 67% increase in the number of houses on the market.  2) The buyers went away. The one-two punch of more houses on the market and fewer buyers shopping is why, in October and November, so many sellers took their houses back off the market.

2016 Cheverly market activity

I expect that many of those sellers will try again this Spring and I think three things will happen. We’ll see a lot more houses on the market this Spring than we did last year.  I think interest rates will stay low and buyers will take advantage. So far, the number of buyers coming through open houses is promising. And I think we’ll still see appreciation, but it will be a little more gradual.

You know what we realtors call this kind of market? Normal! We just haven’t seen normal in over 10 years.

Posted in Cheverly Market Update, Cheverly-Centric | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Change in the Cheverly Market?

Of course, I have no idea what will happen tomorrow, much less next month or next year, but I am keeping an eye on a trend that seems to be taking shape. One month does not a trend make, but it will be interesting to watch the market over the winter and into the spring.

Cheverly Active Listings vs Pendings per Month

Cheverly Active Listings vs Pendings per Month

The tall orange column (September 2015) all the way to the right shows 20 active listings (Actives), a number that was fairly consistent throughout the month of September. The blue column is the number of contracts that were accepted (Pendings). In a nutshell, we haven’t had this many houses on the market since July 2011. Coinciding with record high actives, the pending have remained fairly constant. The result is that we have a surplus of homes on the market for the first time in years.

Cheverly New Listings per Month

Cheverly New Listings per Month

Next, look at how many new listings came on the market in Cheverly each month. Again, that last column is September 2015. We had a whopping 15 properties come on the market. The last time we had that many houses come on the market in one month was before the market surged 10 years ago.  On top of that, it is rare to have an increase like that in the fall – most of the peaks have been in spring months.


Here is what I think is happening. We have had a shortage of homes on the market since the recovery started. There have been consistently more buyers in competition for those homes. Why the shortage of homes on the market? Many sellers have been upside down since the market crashed, and have been waiting for the market to recover enough for them to break even or make a small profit.

For most of those sellers, they feel this recovery happened this Spring. But most weren’t ready to go on the market. As a few houses sold in the high $300s and even into the $400s, many of those sellers figured that they’d jump on the bandwagon. However, the increase in houses coming on the market has actually changed the market, because the number of buyers hasn’t increased.


This is actually a normal market, this surge and fall back pattern. We just haven’t seen one in a very long time. Government shut-down threats don’t help. If you’re willing to price the house where the market is now, rather than projecting a higher price based on the 2015 Spring market, you’ll do fine.

I predict that if the number of actives drops in any significant way, it will be due to sellers deciding to withdraw their homes from the market and wait until later. I think many of the current sellers are going to be disappointed by lackluster activity on their homes (mostly because they priced their houses too high), will take their houses off the market for the winter and will put them back on in the Spring. I also think we’re going to see a surge in new listings in the Spring for the same reason. This may also have the effect of keeping prices more stable.

Posted in Cheverly Market Update | Leave a comment