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Fly On The Wall At Tax Hearing

By September 4, 2008


Cosmo Seattle recently attended a tax assessment appeal hearing, disputing fair market value.

It’s an interesting post with lots of insight into the process.

On the MLS past sales issue:

sharon presented the results of her market-value analysis based on comparable 2007 sales derived from MLS data. pretty strait forward stuff, right? wrong. kathy, the assessor’s rep blurted out, in the matter-of-fact tone of a seasoned bureaucrat, that the assessor’s office does not use the MLS system because MLS does not give them access. in the moment, this banal tidbit did not seem relevant other than to highlight that the assessor’s office is, well, frugal.

It’s not surprising that they don’t consider MLS past sales. To get that information directly from the MLS the assessors office would need to be a broker and member of the local MLS. The assessors office also doesn’t need up-to-the-minute sales information which is the benefit of MLS past sales. They need sales information for the most recent year and the county records really are the best source of that (there are definitely discrepancies between the two and the county is considered to be the authoritative source even though it is sometimes wrong.) Though end users like you and me would prefer to have an agent pull MLS past sales because through the MLS you have access to the old marketing remarks and photos while the county website has none of that.

ince neither the assessors office nor the appeals board has access to MLS data (and by access i can only assume they mean FREE access), they instead will use excise tax records to evaluate the arguments.

Is this the same as county sales records? That is what they should be using for comparables.

here’s another troubling observation. to support their assessment, the assessor’s market value was based on comparisons that, while in the same building, were categorically mismatched. for example, justifying the assessment of a 1bd/1bath unit, sales data from 2 bd/2 bath units were cited.

That is very troubling. Very much so for condo owners because in Seattle 1 bedrooms should not comp with 2 bedrooms. They’re different types of housing.

Anyhow, if you’re considering appealing, you now know what you are dealing with.

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