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November 28, 2007


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This is a question rather than a comment.

My wife and I purchased a house with a restrictive covenant. Specifically, one of its owners must be employed by the local university (Duke, in Durham, NC) or one of its associated hospitals. Because this leads to a smaller pool of potential buyers, we got the house at a good price for the neighborhood ($325K). However, it has just been appraised by Durham County at $411K. This is a fair price for a similar house in our neighborhood, but we would, of course, not be able to sell it at this price due to the restricted pool of buyers. My question: Is this grounds for an appeal? Thanks.

Trinity --

I think it would be a very good reason for an appeal because it certainly impacts the value of your home.

Anyone else with thoughts?

I asked my wife, the appraiser/assessor, about this -- She says she would absolutely take this into account since it greatly reduces the market size.

The fact that you just bought it at $325k also shows that that is the value that the market would sustain.

Are all homes in your subdivision under this covenant? Are there any other sales that could be used to compare?

Also just curious -- What happens if the owner leaves their position?

File a return? Is this a federal law requiring counties to give taxpayers an opportunity to talk back?

We don't get any chance to file a "return." A few months before you get your tax bill, you get an assessment whose format is incomprehensible but which appears to have nothing to do with reality and which gives no hint to what the year's tax bill will be. When the tax bill finally comes, you have 30 days in which to contest it. But contesting it will likely get you nowhere: everyone I know who has tried that (myself included) simply wasted their time.

One friend, though, got a personal call from the county assessor saying a) "too bad, but no chance," and b) "my taxes went up, too--so sorry!"

The same friend discovered, shortly after he moved into the house in question, that the place had been hugely overvalued for years--that the assessor's office said it had a swimming pool (nonexistent) and more plumbing outlets than it does (they charge you by how many faucets you have, among other things). You don't find this out unless you ask for an itemized tax bill, which most people around here don't even know about. The elderly couple who sold the house to him, who were poor and needed the money, had no recourse: they had overpaid for three decades and so the money belonged to the county. Unfair? Toooo bad.

Is it any wonder why people vote against school taxes?

I had my property overvalued three years in a row. I went for a refund but instead of a refund I was urged by the property appraisers office to accept a credit towards my current taxes. My physical tax bill now reflects that credit but the appraised value has not been adjusted on the tax assessors website. Can you explain this?

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