If you own Lake Martin waterfront property that is in Elmore County, chances are that your assessment (and therefore property taxes) went up this year. I have heard lots of anguish from taxpayers that were shocked by their increase this year. I don’t know that those in Elmore County are any worse than Tallapoosa or Coosa, but ElCo has been hit hard this year. Property tax rates have stayed the same, but when they raise your assessed value, your taxes go up anyway.
If you disagree with your assessment, there is an appeals process. You will need to call the Elmore County courthouse at 334–567–1428. They only allow you to appeal for a certain time, so if you disagree, hurry up. Be warned – I have heard of some taxpayers’ appraisals actually going UP after an appeal. I guess after scrutinizing, the tax man figured he needed to go up, not down.
Lake Martin property owners from outside the state of Alabama should note that our property tax fiscal year runs October 1 to September 30. So, the bill that you have to pay by December 31, 2007, is based on an appraisal at October 1, 2006. Therefore any appeal that you make would need to estimate the value at 10–1–2006.
The best way to get your appraisal lowered is to show them comparable sales that prove a lower value. The best comparables are those that are most like your waterfront home or lot. On Lake Martin, most of the value is in the dirt, so look for comparables with similar views, water depths, and sizes as yours. Then try and find homes that are like yours. Generally, it is easier to first find similar lots, then adjust for the differences in the homes. For instance, if your neighbor sold on September 20, 2006, and his lot is almost exactly like yours, you would only need adjust for the differences in your homes. If he had four bedrooms and you only have three, then you would adjust down by the cost or value of an extra bedroom.
If you are trying to appeal your assessment, and need some comparable sales, or you are just wondering what your Lake Martin waterfront home or lot is worth, give me a call. I would be glad to help you out, no cost, no obligation, no cheesy sales pitch, no guilt. I promise. Just buy me a Slim Jim at Nail’s and we’ll call it even.