Our email inboxes and phones have been LIGHTING UP recently!
That’s because the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office just mailed out the latest round of:
OFFICIAL VALUATION CHANGE NOTICES
Some of the valutations are near heart-attack inducing.
Our own primary residence assessed value went up 50.03% year over year.
The obvious questions is:
“Did the real estate market as a whole go up 50.03% year over year?”
It’s important to know that the Assessor’s valuation are not based on 2023 market data, but on 2022 data.
For the entire year 2021 the median sale price of a Whatcom County single family home was $549,000.
In 2022, the median Whatcom County home sold for $602,000.
That’s an increase of 9.65%… not 50.3%.
That said, the Assessor is very open about their mission to get every property to an assessed value equalling fair market value.
So when you read your Valuation Change Notice, keep that in mind.
However, if your valuation came in at an unjustifiable level, and you want to formally appeal to have it lowered…
Or you know someone who this would apply to…
Then this blog post is for you!
What to know about appealing your taxes
IF YOU WANT TO FILE AN APPEAL OF YOUR VALUATION OR TAXES… KEEP READING!
- There is a deadline for appealing your taxes, and it is November 14, 2023
- There is a form you MUST fill out and submit to make an appeal… that is the only accepted practice.
- There is no charge for appealing.
The statement below is taken directly from the Whatcom County Assessor’s Website:
To file an appeal a taxpayer must complete an appeal petition form.
A letter or phone call will not be accepted as a substitute for the appeal petition form.
There is no charge for filing an appeal.
For taxpayers to reserve their appeal rights a petition must be filed according to the deadlines.
APPEAL DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 14, 2023
Here is the Board of Equalization’s web page on filing an appeal. It has relevant information..
This is the actual application you must use — I highly recommend you read it and make the appeal if you feel your property was unjustifiably over-valued.
The information below appears on the application linked above.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION / EVIDENCE: EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
You must prove that the Assessor’s determination is incorrect and prove what is correct for the Board to rule in your favor.
This is why providing the Board with supporting documentation is extremely important.
Examples of different types of evidence:
- Sales information of similar properties – using sales that date close to January 1st of the assessment year.
- Two suggested ways to obtain comparable sales could be websites like Redfin and Zillow or a market analysis completed by a real estate agent.
Note: (All sales comparables will be adjusted to the assessment date)
- Cost estimates for repairs that need to be done to the building or land
- Official documents showing development limitation/easements
- Independent appraisals
- Photographs are very helpful
- Maps showing roads with high traffic, access limitation, etc.
Put together a report that makes your case, and as you’re assembling it, be open to the possibility that the data does not support your appeal.
Case in point: I will not be appealing any of my property valuations this year.
The assessed value of each of our properties is still below what I would consider to be market value.
You can also save if you’re a senior, or disabled
Whatcom County offers property tax (deep) discounts if you meet 4 eligibility requirements, which you can read about in detail at this link.
In general, you must:
- Be at least 61 years old or unable to work because of a disability
- Own your home
- Use it as your primary residence at least 6 months a year, and…
- Have income of less than $42,023/year.
If you meet those, by all means apply for a break on your taxes!
The discount will drop them to “almost nothing.”
Please share this newsletter if you know someone that it could help.
Or just send them to brandonnelson.com/appeal
Good luck with your appeal, or with just affording the increased cost of living in and around Bellingham, WA.
It ain’t no joke, that’s for sure.