SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The local real estate market has been white hot, driving up home values in many regions of CNY. That means you could be in for quite the surprise when opening your latest property tax assessment.

“I’ve seen marketplaces go up and marketplaces go down but I’ve never seen it go up double digits,” said Town of Manlius Assessor, Pat Duffy.

Duffy said assessments will be sent to Town of Manlius residents in early May. He said the average homeowner is seeing about a 14 percent increase in their assessment.

It’s the same story in the towns of Lysander and Van Buren. Lysander Assessor Theresa Golden said she’s never seen anything like it in her 23-year career. She said some property owners are seeing assessment jump by $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 or more.

As far as what the new assessed value of your property means for taxes, you ‘ll have to wait until school, town and county budgets are passed.

Town of Salina Assessor, Denise Trudell sent a letter to property owners reminding them, “The assessor doesn’t not figure out what each person will pay in taxes. The assessor is responsible for making sure that the distribution of the taxes is fair and equitable.”

Duffy stressed that an average assessment hike of 14 percent for homeowners in Manlius doesn’t necessarily your taxes are going up 14 percent.

“It simply means the value of your property is going up 14 percent…The only thing the assessment really does, once the budgets are established, the assessment establishes your ownership, how big of a slice of the pie you are responsible for,” Duffy said.

How to challenge your assessment

If you feel your assessment is inaccurate and want to challenge, the first step is to speak with your local assessor. Golden said her office has had about 160 informational meetings with property owners in Van Buren and 250 in Lysander.

Duffy advises you not to wait until the last minute. He also said property owners need to do their homework, find comparable properties in your neighborhood, and bring pictures to help make your case.

If that leaves you unsatisfied, you can file a grievance with the board of assessment review. Most towns have a grievance day on the fourth Tuesday of May or in early June. Duffy said you need to complete a grievance form. You need to have it submitted with the supporting documents by grievance day.

“I have to emphasize you have to have that grievance form submitted on or before the fourth Tuesday in May. You come in on the fourth Wednesday in May and you are already too late,” said Duffy.

You can also attend the grievance review in person. Duffy recommends that you keep your argument simple and straight forward and you focus on facts, not emotion. He suggests you provide one to five comparable properties.

“Some people will come in with a novel comparable to War and Peace. My personal opinion is that they lose the messaging. I think when you come in with too much information, it tends to overwhelm the board,” Duffy said.

If you’re still at odds over your assessment value, you can take your case to a small claims assessment review. Duffy said the process will cost you a $35 filing fee. The court will assign a hearing officer.

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