Can I Get Some Comps To Support My Fight To Lower My Assessed Value (& Property Taxes)

The pennies keep piling up for reader requests to us for help on reducing property taxes and providing comps to support such claims, so we’ll go ahead and print a couple of the latest and the new boiler plate reply we’ll be sending along:

Hi – I was wondering you could point me in the right direction…I am considering submitting an “informal review request” to the SF Assessor-Recorder’s office to lower the assessed valuation of my condo. I need to support my application with sales data on comparables from the period around 1/1/10 to 3/31/10. [We’re good, but can’t predict the future. ;-) ] Can you tell me if there is a website or other source where I could find this data?

Thank you.

Or something like this:

Hello Alex,

Thanks for your sfnewsletter [One of these days I (Alex) will get back to writing one!]. I really enjoy reading it. I got a letter from Phil Ting to have our house re-assessed. They need comps in the neighborhood. Although your newsletter has the recently sold report, I was looking for something more extensive, say for the entire 2009 calendar year. Do you know how I can get this?

I live in Forest Hill, and I would like to find information on this area.

Thanks very much,

Thank you both (and the countless others that have received this same boiler plate reply) for your emails, and thank you for reading. I’ve done this before and I know how it goes. I send comps, you take to the city, they say they want different comps from different times. So do me a favor and ask them EXACTLY what types of properties they want to see and EXACT dates and I’d be happy to pull them for you.

I’ll get them back to you as soon as I can. All I ask in return is that you consider working with me when the time comes for you (or your friends) to buy or sell real estate in San Francisco…


4 thoughts on “Can I Get Some Comps To Support My Fight To Lower My Assessed Value (& Property Taxes)

  1. Sounds about right for the city, and good luck getting an answer from them. Providing “comps” for a property is always an argument no matter what you do. The only way it is a slam dunk is when they are really the same property and have have changed hands recently at arms length, e.g. the same floor plan within a 40 story highrise changing hands within 1 week of each other. In other words, they, comps, don’t exist without an argument to back them up. To solve your problem Alex (time vs. revisions vs. revenue vs. ability to provide a high quality timely product at the right price) I suggest preparing a service model around it like an appraiser would.

    Bear in mind though that if somebody is looking for a reduction in value of call it $200k, they are really only trying to save 1.2% of that per year so a potential service fee might be limited.

    In a way, I empathize with the city, fighting for every cent.

    Funny, they didn’t seem to do that when I bought my place five years ago. Took them 2 years to get around to a supplemental to capture that added market value. But hey, I’m private sector, I have higher standards.

  2. My upstairs neighbor sold his place last week for $200k less then what I paid two years ago. Two unit building with the same layout and square footage.

    I put that as my comp and made my estimate the same as his selling price. If this isn’t a good enough comp, I don’t know what is.

  3. I got my comps last year from the appraiser the bank sent for my refinance. The appraisal cam in much lower than I hoped. I had to scramble to close the refi but then 1) I was able to write off the refi costs and 2) the comps used went directly onto the forms I got from the city for reassessment, lot #, block # and all! My property tax was reduced by about $2K this year and, according to a recent letter, next year as well! the bad news- the cut off date for appraisals and comps is March 31.

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