What is the “assessed value” of your home?

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As you know, real estate values have declined in recent years. Are you wondering about the value of the homes in your neighborhood? One way to check the value of your property or the property down the street is to review the “assessed value.”  Although the assessed value of property is not the same as the appraised value or market value, it can be useful for comparison purposes.

All states have a system for establishing the value of land and buildings referred to as the “assessed value.” The “assessed value” is used for the purpose of calculating property taxes. Property taxes are paid by individuals, corporations and partnerships on real and personal property in order to pay for the public services provided by municipalities. Each municipality is responsible for establishing the “assessed value” and collecting the corresponding taxes. The office responsible for such duties varies by state with the most common office being the “Assessor’s Office.”

The assessed value is generally affected by the recent sales price of comparable properties, physical changes to the property itself or changes to the neighborhood.

Besides the assessed value of the land and buildings, there are many other property characteristics and ownership records maintained in conjunction with each property. Types of information available include taxpayer name, owner name (if different), physical description of property, size of property, legal description, zoning, sales history, and ownership document numbers. Since this information is considered public information, you can research your property, your neighbor’s property or property that you may be interested in purchasing.

Generally, you can search by owner name, address, parcel identification number or, in some cases, through GIS maps. Some states offer a central website for online searches. In other states, you will need to access the information through the county’s website using either contact information or an online search.

The State of Indiana offers the option of comparing “Assessments by Neighborhood.” On Louisiana’s “Tax Commission” website, you can search by parish. In Maryland, you can search “Property Sales” by county. Montana has a great “GIS Website” to search for tax parcels. If you live in New Jersey, you can use its online search “Property Sales by County, City or Year” going back to 1990. Tennessee also offers an “Assessment Data” search by county.

You can use the referenced links or use our “Assessor and Property Tax Records Resources” page to access a specific state and county directly. Remember it’s not just the assessed value that is available but square footage of the neighbor’s house, the sales price of the house next door, or who owns the run-down house down the street.

There are many types of public records at the national, state, county and local level which you can access through “Free Public Records Search Directory” including land records and deeds, foreclosures, building permits, and more.

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