Reporting Andy Sheehan
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Every day now the waiting room at the appeals office downtown is packed with property owners angry about their new assessments.
“They’re outrageous. I don’t how they come up with these numbers or where they’re getting them,” one frustrated homeowner said.
“My husband and I are on fixed income,” added another taxpayer. “I almost fell of the couch when I saw that.”
But relief may be coming their way. A review by KDKA-TV of the first 5,000 informal assessment appeals found that more than half saw their assessment go down. Property assessments are being reduced at an average of 14 percent.
“Without a doubt it’s worth the time and effort to appeal your assessment,” Dan Murrer of RealSTATS said.
With Murrer’s help, we crunched the numbers.
While 35 percent saw no reduction in their assessment, more than 60 percent did.
And the savings in property taxes are significant.
Twenty-five percent will see a savings of $300 or less; 13 percent will see a savings of between $300 and $600 and 21 percent – 1 in 5 — will realize a tax savings of more than $600 a year.
“This company came in and they screwed things up and now the burden is on the property owners to fix it through the appeals process,” Murrer said. “It’s the only way you’re going to get a fair assessment is by fighting the thing.”
And these are just the informal appeals – these and all other property owners have the right to another formal appeal.
Murrer says it makes sense to avail yourself of both but only if you’re prepared – either with professional help of a lawyer or appraiser or if you’ve done research yourself on comparable properties.
Those who haven’t will not benefit.
“They’re going in unarmed and they’re getting no change,” Murrer said.
So the message is it pays to appeal and it’s probably best to take two bites at the apple. File for the informal appeal and if you have the will or the time, file for a formal one as well.