WSVN — In real estate the experts say, it's location, location, location, but for most people, reality is, it's price.
Brian Metcalf: "We were looking actually for about two, two and a half years, and finally found this place, and it was all meant to be finally."
The price for the house was great, Brian bought it. Then like everyone else, he got his tax notice in the mail.
Brian Metcalf: "Red flags went off clearly. We saw the market value listed in this was higher than the actual market value."
Miami-Dade County claimed his property was worth $414,000 more than Brian paid for it.
Brian Metcalf: "That we were being taxed way too much as compared to what our property was actually worth."
Most people get these notices, look at the amount they are going to be taxed and when they can breathe again say, how can the county get away with this? Property values are dropping and taxes are rising, but after the disgust, most people fold the notice up and say, it's taxes, I have to pay it.
Not realizing at the bottom of the tax notice in tiny print it says, if you feel the market value of the property is inaccurate or does not reflect fair market value contact the County and now many people are doing just that.
Barry Sharpe, Property Tax Appeal Group: "Homeowners should realize that this is their best opportunity this year to appeal their taxes."
Barry Sharpe is president of a company called P-TAG, which stands for property tax appeal group. His goal, fight the County to get your taxes lowered.
Barry Sharpe: "I go outside and take the darkest, gray cloud, put it on top of the house and pretend I'm a buyer."
Sharpe says the best way to lower the taxes on your home is to point out its problems.
For example, Brian's house needs painting, tiles need to be replaced and the cabinets have got to go. Things that Sharpe uses to drive down the tax assessment, things the property appraiser is not aware of.
Barry Sharpe: "They don't have an exact idea as to what your particular house, what the problems you may have."
When Sharpe appeals your taxes he collects a percentage of the savings.
Brian Metcalf: "Who would think that a flaw would actually save you money on your taxes?"
Ron Pascale used Sharpe's company to fight the taxes on two condos he owns.
Ron Pascale: "Barry reduced the assessed value by $1,500 per unit and I got a tax saving of $506 per unit."
And if you don't want to pay someone, you can fight your tax bill yourself. It only costs $15 to file the appeal.
Barry Sharpe: "The most important thing to do is, they have to appeal their taxes prior to September 20, that is the magic date."
The County then schedules a hearing to see if they agree with you and if you are worried that bad mouthing your property will lower the price, you may get if you ever sell it relax.
Ron Pascale: "These flaws can be easily fixed, so in the event I went to sell the property, I would fix these flaws."
The appeal worked for Ron, Brian is hoping to win his battle as well.
Brian Metcalf: "We're hoping we can save some serious money doing this."
Take money from the County's pocket and put it back where it belongs, i the taxpayers pocket.
Keep in mind you must file before September 20. It only costs $15 and you can download the form on line.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Information about appealing in Miami-Dadehttp://www.miamidade.gov/pa/appealing_assessment.asp
Information about property taxes in Browardhttp://www.broward.org/RecordsTaxesTreasury/Revenue/PropertyTaxes/Pages/Default.aspx