For any Lake County resident that wishes to try to lower their real estate taxes, there is a brief window of opportunity. Residents must file between January 1st through March 31st of each year. So now is the time to start. Here is link to the Lake County website where you can get their detailed instructions and the form DTE1 – Complaint Against the Valuation of Real Property. (Real Property is another name for your house)
In a meeting with Mr. Ed Zupancic, Lake County Auditor, and the Director of the Board of Revisions, I was told that there is only two sure ways to determine the Fair Market Value of your home: (1) having it sold, or (2) having a professional appraisal done on your property.
Many people, on their own, try to provide evidence of comparable sales in their city, township, or village; but unless you are in the real estate business, your estimation of the FMV of your property will be subject to a very close scrutiny, and will add stress to your life. You are allowed to submit your complaint without professional help, and the Director did say that they have to do a lot of education to get the homeowner in compliance with the rules.
I chose to use a local professional appraisal firm that was recommended by a friend employed RE/MAX Results. Without hesitation, she gave me the name Allen Zehe. After explaining our desire to lower our real estate taxes, he did some preliminary work to see if it was worth spending the money for an appraisal. He gave me an estimated range that he believed was the FMV, and asked if I wanted to proceed. This allowed me the chance to determine if I thought it was financially worth proceeding with the appraisal. We are looking for an annual tax reduction of over $2,000. This will be a reduction from future tax bills. Unfortunately, there is no “going back” in time.
Allen R. Zehe
Zehe Appraisal Service
8333 Beaumont Drive
Mentor, OH 44060
Cost of Appraisal – $450.00
One tip on completing the form DTE-1: the Auditor’s website said that you must first print out the form and then fill out the form. I found that I was able to type the information directly to the on-line form and then print out a nice, neat typewritten page. (not sure if you get points for neatness)
The DTE-1 form has to be notarized so do not sign it until you are in front of a Notary Public. Your local bank should have a Notary on premises, and it should be a free service.
Please remember that you are only asking to change the valuation of your property, and you cannot do anything about the rates charged by the political sub-divisions.
Also, do not go to the Board of Elections and ask why your real estate taxes went up when you did not vote to pass the levies – our system of governance does not work that way.
Good luck, I will let you know how I get treated by the Board of Revisions.