What is the Assessor’s Office role in the Board of Equalization?
The Weber County Assessor’s Office reviews valuation appeals that have been accepted through the Board of Equalization. An appraiser in our office reviews the pertinent market information, performs an analysis, and then estimates a market value change if necessary. Pertinent market data includes information submitted by the appellant, as well as other information available through data sources such as the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The Assessor’s Office also represents Weber County in Board of Equalization hearings at both the county and state level.
People often ask, “What does it take to successfully appeal the market value of my property?” Here are some tips to navigate through the appeal process.
Keys to a Successful Valuation Appeal
Weber County works hard to ensure that the assessed value of all properties accurately reflects the fair market value. Despite our best efforts, sometimes there is an error in the valuation or in our records. With almost 90,000 parcels in the county, and buildings on over 75,000 of them, we rely on property owners to help bring errors to our attention through the appeal process.
The success rate of appeals has consistently been around 70%. While there is no guarantee the appeal will be successful, Weber County is happy to make corrections to ensure the assessed value is correct.
Weber County has a valuable resource to help you gather information about your property. The Property Search includes information on ownership records, plat maps, acreage, property characteristics, etc.What is a valuation appeal?
Established by Utah State Code, a valuation appeal is the legal right of a property owner. This right can be exercised if they disagree with the market value the Assessor’s Office has placed on their property.
What happens after I submit my appeal?
The appeal process consists of multiple steps. For a detailed look at everything that could happen during the appeal process, please see the Appeal Process page.
Should I file an appeal?
Utah state law requires the Assessor’s Office to appraise all real property at fair market value. Fair market value means “the amount at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.”
Essentially, this means the property should be assessed at what it could sell for on the open market. If there is reason to believe the property would sell for an amount other than its assessed value, then the owner is encouraged to appeal.
How do I submit an appeal?
If you choose to submit an appeal application, be sure to:
- Answer each question thoroughly.
- Sign the appeal application.
- If using a representative, include a signed authorization form.
- Return your appeal application to the Weber County Clerk/Auditor’s Office, along with all supporting evidence and documentation, postmarked on or before the September 15th deadline.
- File a separate application for each parcel. If the properties are contiguous and the appeal information is the same, you can file one application for all parcels.
Applications without sufficient documentation to support the opinion of market value will be returned with a request for more evidence. If no further evidence is received, the Board may dismiss the appeal.
Applications with sufficient documentation will be forwarded to the Assessor’s Office for review. Once a decision is reached, the property owner will be notified. If you are dissatisfied with the appraiser’s decision, you can proceed to a hearing where your evidence will be reviewed by an independent third party Hearing Officer.
When is the appeal application due?
By State law, a property owner has 45 days from the day valuation notices are mailed, or September 15th, whichever is later, to file an appeal.
There is a process for filing an appeal after the deadline, but the requirements to qualify for a late appeal are significant and not flexible. Qualifying examples include: a death in the family, a dire medical emergency on the part of the property owner where no other property owner was available to file the appeal, or a factual error in the physical description of the property, i.e., size, basement finish, etc. While the Clerk/Auditor’s Office may consider other circumstances, those circumstances must be severe and significant.
What can I appeal?
The question to ask yourself is “Could I sell this property for the assessed value?” If the answer is yes, the property was assessed appropriately and there is no valuation appeal warranted. If the answer is no, the property owner is encouraged to appeal the value.
When you file an appeal, you are appealing the assessed value of the parcel in question. You are not appealing the property tax on the parcel. While there is a direct relationship between assessed value and the taxes associated with it, the property tax itself cannot be appealed. Only adjusting the assessed value will result in a change in property tax.
What qualifies as good evidence?
The following includes examples of each basis for appeal and examples of good evidence for each.
A factual error is something that can be objectively determined by measuring or counting. For example, incorrect square footage of a building or the incorrect number of bathrooms is a factual error. Something that could vary from one person to the next, like how much someone would pay for a property, is not a factual error.
Dramatic errors in the county’s record that will affect value can be used as a basis for appeal. For example, if county records list a single family home as 200 square feet larger than it actually is, this is a good basis for an appeal.
Note: for single family residences, appraisers typically take their measurements from the outside. While it is true that you cannot live inside a wall, the structure would not function as it was intended without walls. As a result, walls are considered as a part of the real property and are included in the square foot calculation.
If the property is purchased within 12 months of the January 1st assessment date, the sale of the property can be used as the basis for an appeal. However, the purchase must be an “arm’s length” transaction in order to represent market value. An arm’s length transaction is a sale between two unrelated, informed parties under no duress. For example, getting a great deal from a relative would not qualify as an arm’s length sale.
Purchase documents of the arm’s length transaction are a necessary piece of evidence to include with the appeal.
A real property appraisal performed within 12 months of the January 1st assessment date is also admissible as evidence. Remember to weigh the cost of the appraisal against the potential savings. Appraisals for single family residences can cost as much as $400. A value reduction of almost $56,000 is necessary to recoup the cost in the first year.
Information on recently sold properties similar in use and physical characteristics to your property is considered good evidence for your appeal. Some things to consider are date of sale, location, size, quality, condition, and building style.
The question to ask yourself is “Would the comparable property compete against my property if both were up for sale?” The Assessor’s Office must value properties as of January 1st every year. Valuation notices are usually mailed out around the end of July or the beginning of August. Unfortunately, the further away from January 1st a sale takes place, the less indicative of market value it becomes. This is especially true in years where there is a rapid change in market value.
Small income-producing properties (1-4 residential units) can be appealed by submitting actual rents, rents from competing units, and/or comparable sales.
Income from Commercial Property
If your property produces income (commercial, industrial, or residential 5+ units), then you should submit the property’s income and expense records. You may also submit rent and/or sale information for comparable properties.
You can appeal property damaged by a natural disaster. The damage must be 30% or greater of the taxable value. The damage cannot be due to any action or inaction of the property owner. The best way to show the dollar amount of damage is to submit bids and/or receipts to repair the damage.
Access interruption is defined as the interruption of normal access to or from property due to any circumstance beyond the control of the property owner. If you can show your property has sustained a decrease in market value due to access interruption, you can appeal your property value. Access interruption can be from road construction, traffic diversion, etc.
Why would my appeal application be denied?
There are two reasons appeals are dismissed or denied.
Lack of Evidence
By law, the property owner is required to provide evidence that the county has valued the property higher than the property could be sold for on the open market. If no evidence is provided, the law assumes the county assessment is correct and the appeal is dismissed.
Inadequate or Poor Evidence
Property owners often appeal their property value using information that does not show what the appealed property would actually sell for. For example, information for properties that are very dissimilar to the subject property in either physical characteristics or location. Also, distressed sales (short sales, repossessions, etc.) are not typically representative of market value.
Who should I talk to about additional questions?
The Appeal process can be confusing and intimidating without the proper information and guidance. We are happy to assist you.
For information regarding your property, please contact the Assessor’s Office at 801-399-8572
For information regarding your appeal, please contact the Clerk/Auditor’s Office at 801-399-8400.