A common question from our clients is whether or not they need an appraisal for their Allegheny County property tax assessment appeal. The not-so-simple answer is: it depends. There can be both advantages and disadvantages to obtaining an appraisal for your property tax appeal. Most often, we will not obtain appraisals unless we are unable to settle the case and/or a trial is absolutely necessary. Many commercial cases will require appraisals. With a variety of scenarios, the whole ordeal can be difficult to sort through. Luckily, the property tax appeal experts at Flaherty & Fardo are here to break it down for you.
The advantage of an appraisal is that an appraisal can be the best evidence of a property’s value. It is an expert evaluation that a court or judge can use to make their final decision concerning the value of your property. It can also add significant leverage in negotiating with the taxing entities. However, it may not always yield the lowest value, as appraisers have ethical obligations to assess fair market value, not fight or argue for a reduction.
Also, disadvantages of an appraisal may include cost and exposing vital characteristics about your property data that may increase future property taxes. A full summary appraisal report requires inspection of the subject property, and by submitting this expert report, it could also disclose inaccurate current data about your property. If Allegheny County lists your property as only 3500 square feet, but an appraisal confirms that the true size of the property is 4500 square feet; that additional data will harm you in future reassessments.
The decision to obtain an appraisal could also lead the taxing entities to ask the court for entry into your home to conduct their own expert appraisal. Thus, it has been our practice to weigh the risks versus the rewards when obtaining expert valuation reports.
Overall, we like the use of appraisals in certain cases, but recommend analyzing the risks, rewards and costs on an individualized basis. For more information, get in contact with Flaherty & Fardo for a free consultation regarding your property tax appeal.