The property taxes on your condo are based on a combination of your condo's assessed value and the tax rate that your community charges. You don't have a lot of control over the tax rate, but you may be able to influence the assessed value of your unit. Many communities have an appeals process where you can sit down with the assessor and argue for a lower value. If the assessor made a mistake, you could prevail and get a lower assessed value -- and lower property taxes.
Do Your Research
The first step in lowering your assessed value is to do your research and get a clear understanding both of your condo and of the market. Gather data that shows your condo's number of rooms, size, year of construction and both in-unit and property-wide amenities. If you can find the appraisal from your mortgage, it will be helpful. You will probably need written and verified information when you disagree with the assessor, so the more evidence you have, the better off you'll be. Next, research the assessed values of recent sales in the market. Look for comparable units either in your property or in nearby properties of similar value. If they're assessed at a lower price than your assessed value, it could indicate that your property is over-assessed.
Your assessment letter usually includes a date by which you have to file a formal appeal, but before that date, contact your assessor to see if you can sit down for an informal meeting. At the informal meeting, try to understand how the assessor valued your property, and share some of your information with him. You might be able to get your value lowered at the meeting. If you don't get, at least you'll have a better understanding of how the assessor thinks so that you can better answer his arguments at the formal appeal.
Formally Appeal the Value
To file a formal appeal, follow the process and the timeline in your assessment letter. Once you go to the appeal, bring your evidence and make the case as to why your condo's assessment is too high. Given that you already have a sense of what your assessor's arguments will be, you can bring new evidence, if you can find it, to help bolster your case. If you aren't comfortable arguing for yourself, you can also hire an attorney to help you at the hearing.
Talk to the Association
When you own a condo, your taxes aren't the only ones that might be too high. If your homeowner's association pays the taxes on the common areas of your complex then bills them back to you through your fee, they might need to appeal the assessment for the complex itself. Talk to your community manager to find out what his plans are with your complex's taxes as a whole. You might be able to save money in two places at once. On the other hand, if you're over-assessed, everyone else in the complex might be, too. At that point, it could make sense for everyone to hire the same attorney to argue for them all at once.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.