The local real estate market remains hot, and with sales prices at notable highs and inventory continuing to be historically low, many homeowners are pondering whether now is the time to put their house up for sale. While it remains a seller’s market for now, buyers are still doing their due diligence and weighing all the factors. And very high on that list, one of the first numbers people check, is property taxes.
Many homeowners have questions: Can I still grieve my taxes if I’m going to be putting my home on the market? What is the impact if, say, my home is assessed at $500,000 but I want to list it for more? Is there any downside to doing it, or should I even bother, if I’m going to be moving anyway?
“Yes, you can still grieve it,” says Maidenbaum Property Tax Reduction Group, LLC Property Tax Supervisor John P. Frascella. “You’ll never get penalized. Hopefully you can help the new owner inherit an improved tax situation.”
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start, and continue, the process. Even in this current market, there are any number of factors that may keep you from selling your home. So should you wind up staying put, you would still have the process in motion to make sure you have a fair assessment. And having things started can be beneficial for prospective buyers—you can begin, and they can pick up the ball and run with it.
“Yes, you should do it to protect them,” Frascella says of people who may wind up buying your home. “So you can file the grievance, and then, if you’re dealing with Maidenbaum, we give you take-over documents, which go to the buyer, and the buyer may say, ‘I’ll take over the grievance.’”
If you are going to sell your home, the experts at Maidenbaum note, it is critical to obtain the purchaser’s signed acceptance of an assignment of your tax assessment reduction agreement. (Case transfer, they say, ensures that the party who receives the benefit of the savings—i.e. the buyer—is the one who pays the fee. If you sell the property and do not make arrangements to transfer your tax grievance to the buyer, you will remain responsible for the fee.) A real estate closing attorney can assist with this by obtaining the appropriate forms for the purchaser to complete the assignment.
“So if you’re the buyer, for sure, you want to take over the case,” Frascella says. “You’re not going to get a transfer fee or any nonsense like that. You’ll take it over and we’ll see what we can do. But the listing is going to tell us where we stand. There might be ones that are a homerun—you could be listed for a million but you’re assessed at the county at $1.5 million, so you may be in line for a reduction as the buyer. So the listing will tell us a lot about where we stand on the case.
“In all honesty, it’s the new owner’s prerogative if they want to take it over,” he continues. “There is literally no downside. And why would you want to put yourself in a position where you’re automatically going to be subject to whatever the county says, if you don’t do the grievance?”
The myriad financial aspects of home ownership need to be dealt with not only in the present, but with an eye toward the future. The expenses that come with owning a house may be something you can handle today, but being prepared for tomorrow is another issue. Property taxes, particularly here in our local market, are no exception.
“I know, from experience, people have complained time and time again, ‘I should have done this earlier, what did I do, am I going to have to sell my house now?’ Frascella says. “Sometimes people will come to me after 15 years of not doing it and they say, ‘I’m getting priced out—I’m getting priced out of my own house.’ So yes, you want to get on it early, stay on top of it. You don’t want to throw it by the wayside.”
Learn more about property tax grievances and other property tax issues at MaidenbaumTax.com.
READ MORE: Property Tax Grievance 101