Coming to a mailbox near you, new assessments, new property taxes

Lifestyle

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB)–Thousands of Western New York homeowners are opening their mailboxes to some sobering news–property reassessments, which will generally lead to higher property taxes.

Despite property values going through the roof, New York has a firewall to prevent local governments from turning those higher valuations into tax windfalls. Tax levies are supposed to be capped at two-percent, although within that cap, there are going to be winners and losers.

Grand Island homeowner Melissa Hall got her bad news this week, “I opened my letter and to my shock it was raised almost double on my assessment.”

Hall and her husband Kevin are among hundreds of homeowners in Grand Island upset over their new assessments. She immediately contacted her realtor, Erika French, who suspects the values of some older homes are being compared to new builds or remodeled homes.

“When you actually do a market analysis, which is what I do, or comparison,” said French, “you have to compare apples to apples. You cannot be comparing a brand new home to an existing home.”

In the 9 years the Halls have owned their home, and the lot next door, this will be their third time challenging their assessment. The two previous challenges did reduce their valuations to a “more reasonable” appraisal.

“We bought what we could afford to live in. So when they go and give us an unfair estimate and then possibly raise our taxes to an unaffordable amount that is upsetting.”

David Marrano is the assessor for Amherst and the City of Tonawanda, and said theoretically, each homeowner is supposed to pay their fair share of the overall tax levy, and the key to a successful challenge is finding what comparable homes are selling for.

But he does not determine the tax levy, “At the end of the day, your local assessor has nothing to do with the taxes. Those are determined by the levy that the town board, the school board, the village board, the county leg put out there.”

Erika French, a realtor with WNY Metro Roberts advised Melissa Hall as she and her husband prepare their next assessment challenge.

“There is no way that this is a $350,000 house, unfortunately. If it was I would tell her to sell it right away.”

Dave Marrano points out, the professional appraiser basically does a drive-by assessment, so homeowners who believe the property is over appraised have to take a counter intuitive approach and list the deficiencies that would devalue their property.

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