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Lose Home Value But Win in the Long Run – Property Tax Appeals

Providence Journal – December 20, 2013 – 5 Manatuck Avenue, Westerly, Rhode Island

Earlier this week, a very interesting decision regarding a home property tax appeal was rendered in the Washington County Superior Court.

Even though a family from New York purchased their Watch Hill property in 2008 for $7.1 million, they successfully argued that the house should be assessed at a value well below the amount they paid.

After the sale, the Westerly annual revaluation process began.  During the revaluation, the Westerly Tax Assessor raised the assessed value of the home from $5.26 million to $5.97 million.  At the same time, the economy was tanking.  Home values and assessments across the Rhode Island and the country were dropping dramatically.

At trial, the home owners admitted that they had overpaid for the home located at 5 Manatuck Road.  They explained that they desired the home because their teenage children would be soon be leaving for college. So, they paid top dollars to ensure they got what they wanted. Still, they contended that the home should be valued at far less than the market value price they willingly – and happily paid.

After numerous appraisals, days of testimony, and a battle of the experts, the Honorable Kristin Rodgers, Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Superior Court, found that Westerly’s increased assessment was “arbitrary and capricious.”  The court found that despite the sale price, due to other similar market value appraisals and the general housing market decline – the town assessment should have decreased.

The timing of the sale, the purchase price, and the economy likely make this a unique circumstance. Whether you are buying your first home, or a $7.1 million summer place, the next time your home or property goes through a revaluation, consider all your options.  Call Callaghan & Callaghan to discuss this, and any other tax appeal matter in further detail.

Read the decision here:

Read an article from the Providence Journal discussing case here: