Editor's note: this is the fifth article in a six-part series.
So far we have explored, for those who believe their property tax assessment is too high, steps that can be taken to request an assessment reduction. First, there is a meeting with the assessor valuator; next a hearing with the Board of Equalization. If you are still unsatisfied you can take your case either to the Washington State Board of Appeal or to the court system. This month's installment describes the board of appeal process.
After completing and sending in the required forms you found online or asked for via mail from the Washington State Board of Appeal, you will be notified by mail of the date and time of your hearing. In my case, the hearing was done by teleconference, the "informal process." This process connects the assessor, yourself and the people at the hearing board in Olympia by telephone. Ten days before your hearing you will be required to send in copies of your presentation to both the board in Olympia and to the assessor's office. The assessor's office is also required to give you a package that they intend to present. As soon as you receive the assessor package become familiar with all the facts they intend to present. If you have questions on the material, list them on your notes so that you will remember to ask them at the hearing.
It is at this time I suggest you once again contact the real estate office of your choice and ask them to help you organize the presentation of facts for your hearing. Practice presenting your material so that you are familiar with it and have the opportunity to answer questions the real estate professional might ask you. Keep in mind that you cannot add new material after that 10-day period before your hearing but you can incorporate this step even before I have placed it here within the process, say, even before you get the notice of hearing date and time. The point here is to make your presentation clear, cogent and convincing to this board membership, and practice makes perfect.
You may at this point ask why any real estate professional would agree to help you in this process. This answer is simple. We deal with this information and material every day in our business. We welcome the opportunity to share what we know and help our neighbors accomplish any goal they have relating to real estate. When you win, we win, and we can offer you much more than a market analysis to sell your home or represent you on any real estate purchase. Use all the resources you have in this quest. Don’t be shy to ask for help and don’t be afraid or intimidated by this process. It's not brain surgery and you can do it and learn about market sale values within this county in the process. If you are like most people, the real estate you own is among the greatest assets you have. I would encourage you to make the most of all the information you will learn through a process like this and become your own greatest resource.
The hearing is set and you are prepared, professional and present all your facts as well as answer all questions skillfully. Online you will see the anticipated time for this hearing is 45 minutes. Prepare for 45 minutes and if you get more time consider it a bonus.
Next month: the Board of Appeal result & where to go from there.
Diana Brown is a broker for Brown Bear Real Estate in Republic.