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Saturday, February 19, 2011

How To Appeal Your Property Taxes

While it is good news that Appraisers are finally beginning to show this area as “stable,” overall, property values fell again last year.

Is this reflected in your property taxes?

Soon, you will be receiving your Notice of Assessment in the mail. It is absolutely critical for you to review this Notice as soon as it arrives. You may want to challenge this assessment, but first a primer in


Real estate in Michigan is given two values in the property tax system:

  1. True Cash Value – is established annually on December 31st. Assessors do this by reviewing sales data for each neighborhood over a period of time looking for trends and applying a percentage of increase/decrease for each neighborhood. This, along with actual physical changes to your property, creates Market Value. Fifty percent of this equals your State Equalized Value (SEV).
  2. Taxable Value (TV) – is your SEV modified by the limitations on increases set forth in Proposal A (the Headlee Amendment). This means that your TV can never exceed your SEV. This law is meant to keep you from being affordably taxed out of your house.


• Multiply the tax (also known as the millage rate) times the TV of your property.

• As your millage rate goes up and down, so goes your property tax.


• Your Notice of Assessment arrives sometime between February 15 and March 15.

• Timing is critical – call your Board of Review (BOR) and get yourself on their calendar to appeal your tax assessment. There are a limited number of slots, so do this right away.

• It is your BOR and it is comprised of three, six or nine residents of your community. They meet on the Tuesday following the second Monday in March to hear protests of assessments.

• Your BOR has a procedure for appealing your property taxes. Follow that procedure by obtaining the necessary forms and noting any other requirements.

• Go to the Assessor’s office and ask for a copy of your home’s assessment card. Review it with the Assessor to make sure that you completely understand it and that there are no inaccuracies. This is one of the simplest ways to appeal your taxes.

• You must file a petition with the BOR. The State Department of Treasury has the form. It is available online by clicking here. This form requires you to state an estimate of the true cash value and list your reasons for protesting the Assessor’s valuation. I can help you with this.


• Present evidence to support your cause. Stating that it is too high is not a reason. Ask a Realtor to provide you with neighborhood recent solds supporting that your taxable value (and therefore your property taxes) should decline.

• You can also provide evidence of property issues such as the roof is shot, need a new septic system, fire damage, basement damage and the like.

• Prepare and bring two copies of your report to the hearing – one for the BOR and one for yourself.

• The better your preparation and evidence, the more likely you are to win.


• Value goes up or down for the neighborhood

• Physical changes to the property (good or bad), improvements or damage

• Millage goes up or down

• Location, location, location is the single most important factor which determines the value of your home. Do you live within close proximity to a major road, landfill, business, industry or highway?


• The BOR will review your evidence and make a determination of your new SEV and TV. It will usually not be at the hearing, but you will get a determination within a reasonable time period. Ask politely.

• If you feel the BOR’s decision was fair, your appeal process is finished. If not, you may want to file a formal appeal with the State.

Stay tuned for more information . . .

Sunday, February 13, 2011

An EcoBroker's Valentine's Day -- Make It Green

Let's make Mother Earth our biggest sweetheart his Valentine's Day.

Let's give her what She really wants.

What would that be?

This EcoBroker suggests . . .

Promise Her that you will not send cards, paper, boxes, tissue, wrapping paper . . . all things related . . . to the landfill this year.

Think about it.

Here are some tips to allow Mother Earth to enjoy a green Valentine's Day:

  • Send eCards
  • If you must use wrapping paper, choose paper made of 100 percent recycled paper; or, do as my son did years ago when I complained that he never wrapped my gifts -- put it inside your back pack and allow the recepient to unzip it!
  • Give a gift of yourself - cook a dinner, do a chore . . .
  • Instead of cut flowers, give a potted plant or herb. How about a rosemary plant and then cook your special someone a dinner using that herb?
  • Give a hand-made gift made from items you already have in your home -- found items -- such as old thick ties into hip skinny ties, floppy disks into pen holders or an old T-shirt into a reusable grocery bag.
  • Go on a treasure hunt
  • Give the gift of charity by donating money, or time you would spend on gifts and celebrations to help someone else in the name of love.
  • AND, a tip for next year . . . if you have received a gift in a box, such as chocolates, use that box to give a gift of home-made truffles, or organic chocolates from one of the local chocolatiers . . . many who give discounts for the use of your own box, just as coffee shops give you a discount when you bring in your own cup.
  •  You could make a craft-gift out of it or allow your little one to do so so . . .

Please leave comments here to describe your green Valentine's Day experiences or ideas!

Friday, February 4, 2011

If you cannot sell your condo, renting is an option to consider.

But first, a few facts:

TAXES - As an owner occupant of your present residence, you are privileged to a tax rate which is 30 percent lower than that of a non-owner occupant. Typically, you can only claim one residence as your principal residence, and you must live in it.

RENT - Your condo will only rent for true market value – not what you “want” to get in rent. Consider what you will be paying in principal, interest, taxes, insurance and your monthly association fee and decide if that amount will be covered by your rental rate.

DAMAGES – You can only collect 1.5 times the monthly rental rate for a security deposit.

ASSOCIATION – Ask your condo association if they permit rentals. You will also be responsible for making sure that your tenant abides by the association rules and by-laws.

MANAGEMENT – if you will be relocating out of state, you will want a professional to manage your rental. The typical cost is 10% of the monthly rent. Edward Surovell Realtors offers the following professional services, and I can help you with this:

  • Inspect the property and consult with the owner.
  • Recommend a rental rate, security deposit and lease terms.
  • Advertise and seek tenants.
  • Briefly interview all prospects prior to touring the property. Conduct showings of property to prospective tenants.
  • Verify prospective tenant credit history and reference.
  • Prepare and execute the lease with specifications to the individual property owner.
  • Collect all rents and enforce collection of rents.
  • Collection of security and other deposits.
  • Move-ins and move-out inspections.
  • Take legal action on your behalf if necessary to collect past due rents or evict tenants.
  • Pay mortgage, insurance, taxes and utilities if requested.
  • Lease renewals
  • Maintenance requests, including emergency maintenance.
  • Code work to meet governmental requirements for Certificates of Occupancy.
  • Supervise maintenance repairs.
  • Provide monthly and year-end statements of income and expenses.Contracting by bid and supervision of major improvements and repairs to the property.

 CRAIGSLIST vs. REALTOR – you can certainly list your condo yourself on Craigslist, however for the little amount it will cost you to use a professional, full-time Realtor, it will save you a lot of hassle, responsibility and worry. The typical cost is 1-months rent which is then split between your Broker and the Broker who brings you the tenant.


  • Lists your condo on the Multiple Listing System (MLS )
  • Lists your condo on so many websites that they are too numerous to list here
  • Screens and qualifies potential tenants. Most of the time, the showing will be by a Realtor who sees your condo rental listing on the MLS. Your Realtor will verify their license to assure that they are an active, licensed Realtor, as well as pre-qualify the prospective tenant.
  • I hold my rental listings open on a regular rotational basis. I have had good luck with this.
  • Once a tenant is found, prepares all necessary paperwork to bring the lease to closing, interfacing between all parties and consulting you every step of the way.
  • Stays with you after the sale/rental to assure that all of your needs are met.
 I hope this help. If I can be of further service to you, please contact me via Trulia or my website.

If you're thinking of selling, you can find out what comparable homes are listing for in your neighborhood. Get a real-time snapshot of buyer activity within your zip code.

For your instant Market Analysis, click here.