Recently, the Town of Amherst did a revaluation of all homes. The result was a significant change in property values. According to the Buffalo News, property values have risen an average of 21 percent. Obviously this has made many homeowners angry because they think that if their assessment is higher, then their taxes will be higher too.
The reason for re-assessment is to bring all property values up to 100% equalization. This is done to make it more fair for everyone across the board to pay their share of taxes. The new assessments were determined by previous home sales in the neighborhood from the period of July 1, 2005 through July 1,2008. Other factors that were taken into consideration were the style of the home (ranches to ranches, cape cods to cape cods, etc), square footage, and other things like garages, and decks or other features that would add value to the home.
Many people are asking why are they doing this now? Don’t they know how bad the economy is? Apparently, Amherst stopped doing revaluations in 2006 and they have to make up for it now. So what will that do to your taxes? The school, town and county each have a budget that needs money to operate which is collected through taxes. These needs are spread out among all the property owners in Amherst. So they take the budget and divide it by the assessment which equals the tax rate.
What can you do if you feel that your assessment is not right?
1.) In Amherst, you can request a hearing with the firm that determined the new values. But you have call for an appointment before March 27th (716 631-7061).
2.) You can file a grievance with the Amherst Assessor Office. To do this you must prove your case by showing other home sales in your area of homes that are comparable to yours. You should bring pictures of your home and other homes to compare and be prepared to argue your case. The more informationa and documentation you have, the better. You must fill out the Property Challence Form (RP524) and file it before May 26.
3.) If you filed a grievance and got nowhere you can file for Small Claims Assessment Review by July 30.
There are also professionals out there who have experience in both real estate valuation and tax assessment grievance proceedings who will do the negotiating for you. They will usually review and analyze your situation. If they can get your assessment reduced, then you pay them one half of the first year’s tax savings.