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post #1 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 07:26 AM - Thread Starter
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I just got a letter from my village that my house has been selected for a walkthrough re-assesment inspection. Supposedly they do this every 5 years or so.

The letter said the walkthrough was mandatory, although it also said that if i refused, they would simply assume I was hiding something and increase assesment accordingly.

I had already bought materials to upgrade the theater electricals, but hadn't started pulling wires yet due to a plumbing issue.

Not sure if this is legal, and am considering refusing and then appealing any increase in assesment. Also wondering if they would note any recent work and compare with permits.
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post #2 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 07:49 AM
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My understanding is that you can refuse an inside inspection, but every region, city, town, municipality can be different. Also could be a requirement of community/developement by laws.

Not that it's right but, if you havent started yet I would just let them thru in order to save the aggrivation.
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post #3 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayn_j View Post

Also wondering if they would note any recent work and compare with permits.

Doubtful, your story is that was how it was when you bought the house. Stick to it. I suspect the inspector is looking for improved value to increase the tax basis not construction code deficiencies.
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post #4 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 08:23 AM
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Wow. That seems so... un-American. Forced assessment walk-thoughs or pay the increase... Never even heard of this before.

I tend to agree withy Big in that this is simply a ploy to get more tax. The real estate deflation has communities even more strapped for operating funds.

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post #5 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

Doubtful, your story is that was how it was when you bought the house. Stick to it. I suspect the inspector is looking for improved value to increase the tax basis not construction code deficiencies.

House was purchased 4/16/10. Full inspections and appraisals at that time. They have to be looking for improvements.

Yeah, I'll let them through. Just glad I don't have loose wires hanging and that I have gone with curtains instead of building walls for the theater.
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post #6 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 08:31 AM
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WOW. If it was just purchased a year ago, why is it due for a 5 year re-assessment? Did they not re-assess it upon sale?

I have to agree, a forced walk-through sounds pretty un-American to me.

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post #7 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 09:38 AM
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I would call the attorney generals office in your state and see it is really legal....or call a lawyer. I find it hard to believe they can force you to let them into your house or they'll raise your taxes.... sounds like coercion!

("Coercion is the practice of forcing another party to behave in an involuntary manner by use of threats, rewards, or intimidation or some other form of pressure or force.")

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post #8 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 09:43 AM
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You didn't by chance do any international travel recently did you, like to, well, umm, say somewhere like PAKISTAN??? Sounds like a roust to me and I agree very un-American as well, enough that I'd inquire to my attorney.
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post #9 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 09:53 AM - Thread Starter
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I live in a small suburb of Milwaukee (Bayside) that is incorporated as a Village. The Village only has 600 households and most construction was done in the '50s. A large percentage of the houses are still occupied by the original owners, and I bought from the estate of the original owner as well. The Village seems to run like a '50s version of a HOA. They have managed to enforce and keep covenants active for 50 years now.

Not sure if it is legal, but I guess I don't see the point of being stubborn either. I am going to call and ask why it is being re-assessed 1 year after it sold for 20% less than the previous assesment. Perhaps they will back off, but if not, I'll let them through.

Main reason I posted this was because I have never experienced this sort of city inspector doing a physical walkthrough before and wondered if a non-permitted improvement would cause major hassles. Like Big said though, they probably just want the money.
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post #10 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 10:16 AM
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This happens.

A couple people at work had a walkthrough a year or two back. Both had made off the books updates. The inspector made it clear that he was only intertested in assessing tax value. Not in make sure the changes were ligitimately done to code.

IE, he wasn't a construction inspector, just a tax assessor.

Of course, your locality may be different.

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post #11 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 11:17 AM
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Me? I'd take that nonsense all the way to the Supreme Court...including complaints of blackmail and intimidation.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Case law (and case law with respect to privacy -- a word not in the constitution) with respect to such activities by the government in general would not bode well for your "village".

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post #12 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 11:19 AM
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There ya go!

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post #13 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 11:24 AM
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Just seems weird to me, unless the assessments are somehow based on habitable square footage, number of bathrooms or number of bedrooms (or, like in colonial days, number of doors and closets (hence, the armoire)). Otherwise I don't see how finishing a basement changes anything in the assessment as it doesn't change the existing square footage of the building. How your assessment is calculated should be public record, unless it is up to the assessor to decide, in which case you appeal.

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post #14 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 12:32 PM
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My mom works at a township hall (in the assessing department actually) Here was her response. As others have noted, it may vary depending on where you live. This is based on some tax rules in Michigan, which may be different elsewhere.

Quote:


Kind of true. You don't invite them in they raise the assessment.... you come in and say it's too high they say well let me in and we will verify that. You let them in and they see what you're trying to hide lol. You can ask for a questionnaire to fill out because their times don't work out for you. It really isn't as scary as one might think.

Recently while adding a new front porch... about 400 square feet at a cost of roughtly $10,000 our assessment was raised $5,000 (half of the actual value).... actual cost increase 5 (number of thousands) x 22 (our homestead millage rate) = $110. increase in taxes paid per year.

If you're hiding (okay, don't want them to know) a finished basement that cost $15,000 to finish you take half of that 7.5 thousand times the millage rate. If you're in a city with higher taxes say 36 mills then your increase in taxes per year would be $270.00.

As taxes go once the house and land are there then an increase of $200 in the whole scheme of things really isn't worth the cat and mouse game. And you have to know that your neighbors are going in there to tell as soon as they see that your taxes are less than theirs and your house is nicer than theirs.

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post #15 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Erskine View Post

Me? I'd take that nonsense all the way to the Supreme Court...including complaints of blackmail and intimidation.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Case law (and case law with respect to privacy -- a word not in the constitution) with respect to such activities by the government in general would not bode well for your "village".

Case law is good but it also costs a butt load to fight the government. I would inquire as to why they want to reassess the property after one year of ownership. Its no big deal as far as building codes and so on but its a little strange that they want to do a walk through unless the house was bought as a flip/remodel style sale house. Then it wouldnt be uncommon at all for them to give you time to do the major improvements then tax you on them.

I just had to go through an ordeal on a sale that was bought by my grandfather 40 years ago and I sold it for over 10 times the assessed value even though they reassessed it every 5 years.
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post #16 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayn_j View Post

I just got a letter from my village that my house has been selected for a walkthrough re-assesment inspection. Supposedly they do this every 5 years or so.

The letter said the walkthrough was mandatory, although it also said that if i refused, they would simply assume I was hiding something and increase assesment accordingly.

I had already bought materials to upgrade the theater electricals, but hadn't started pulling wires yet due to a plumbing issue.

Not sure if this is legal, and am considering refusing and then appealing any increase in assesment. Also wondering if they would note any recent work and compare with permits.

Basically every 5 years they select a bunch of houses that best represent the entire town. They are not there to look at permits and in most cases they hire outside companies who do this, who are just writing down inventory of the house and accessory structures. It really depends on your town assessor on how he will calculate your basement as finished, it will never get the same value per sqft as the first floor, but there is still some value.
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post #17 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 02:10 PM
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thats exactly what assessments are based on. They dont care about square footage. they care about bedrooms, bathrooms, fireplaces, and living square footage (to an extent).

in anycase it is total bs. tell them to f. off.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tlogan6797 View Post

Just seems weird to me, unless the assessments are somehow based on habitable square footage, number of bathrooms or number of bedrooms (or, like in colonial days, number of doors and closets (hence, the armoire)). Otherwise I don't see how finishing a basement changes anything in the assessment as it doesn't change the existing square footage of the building. How your assessment is calculated should be public record, unless it is up to the assessor to decide, in which case you appeal.

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post #18 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayn_j View Post

they would simply assume I was hiding something and increase assesment accordingly.

How would they know what to assume the improvements were? If they could see an un-assessed deck on the back of the house, that's one thing. But how would they know what to assume was done inside the house?

It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.

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post #19 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 04:04 PM
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Any neighbours that are "busy bodies"??? You would be surprised at what some people will get up to. My brother was doing a reno and the city showed up to look because "someone" had called them to report construction material being taken into the house....

Home reno pics and Craftsman inspired home theater

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post #20 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Kind of true. You don't invite them in they raise the assessment....

Typical BS and they are still brushing real close to intimidation and blackmail.

The more appropriate method would be to require the homeowner to fill out an affidavit listing improvements. Then if the tax folks have reasonable contrary information, they have an actionable cause and can seek a warrant. The penalties for misrepresentation could be harsh.

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post #21 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 04:47 PM
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Are you sure the letter is legit? Could be some burglary scam. Like lets look around and come back later if we see anything worth it.

I too would contact the state attorney generals office. Or simply tell them to go pound sand and if they asses you higher they will be sued. Sometimes the threat of a costly law suit is all you need to make them move on and try it on someone else.

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post #22 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Are you sure the letter is legit? Could be some burglary scam. Like lets look around and come back later if we see anything worth it.

I too would contact the state attorney generals office. Or simply tell them to go pound sand and if they asses you higher they will be sued. Sometimes the threat of a costly law suit is all you need to make them move on and try it on someone else.

It references a page on the village website that confirms that this company is doing the spot check assessments.
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post #23 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 06:02 PM
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So, here's WI law giving them the right to do walk through assessment (page 8): http://www.dor.state.wi.us/pubs/slf/pb062.pdf

You certainly have the right to deny entry, BUT if you do, you cannot challenge the revised assessment (question 6 here):
http://www.revenue.wi.gov/faqs/slf/bor3.html

Now, your Village is required to publish notice that a revaluation is going to occur on their website (if they have one, which Bayside does). Read further down in the first link. So if they didn't, you may have a case but odds are you will be better off masking off what you can of the improvements you've done, and just letting the "Man" in, and arguing anything negative later vs. denying them and not having a chance.
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post #24 of 48 Old 05-10-2011, 08:26 PM - Thread Starter
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No, this started as a what if. I haven't done anything at this point that would be considered an improvement. I curtained off half the finished basement space, put down area rugs and painted. Actually, my plans are that no work will change configured living space or have any permanent improvement, other than building in the rack. I really have to get my build thread going.

Also, they did publish intent as I stated in response 21. Here is the notice: http://archive.constantcontact.com/f...128400852.html

The only funny thing is they say I should have gotten the letter 2 weeks ago. Re-reading it tells me I probably got selected because they did electrical upgrades as part of the sale, thus a permit was pulled a couple of years ago.

Folks, I am not upset and intend to comply. I really have nothing to hide.
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post #25 of 48 Old 05-11-2011, 05:17 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlogan6797 View Post

Just seems weird to me, unless the assessments are somehow based on habitable square footage, number of bathrooms or number of bedrooms (or, like in colonial days, number of doors and closets (hence, the armoire)). Otherwise I don't see how finishing a basement changes anything in the assessment as it doesn't change the existing square footage of the building. How your assessment is calculated should be public record, unless it is up to the assessor to decide, in which case you appeal.

Habitable square footage is one of the major factors in a home assessment. Finishing a basement can drastically increase your home value.


As for the OP, I would do as one of the other posters said. I would say none of their times work for me and ask if they have some kind of a questionaire I can fill out instead. Still be honest on it, but that is a good work around.
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post #26 of 48 Old 05-11-2011, 05:56 AM
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I guess what's bugging me about this is what is the assessment based on?

Let's say you have a 40 year old kitchen (avacado green, anyone?) and you remodel it. The house HAD a kitchen 40 years ago and still does. So if you put in granite counter tops does that make the value of the house go up? What if I put in granite-looking composite that cost half as much. Will the assessor know this? Does that make your house LESS valuable? What if I put a $5K chandelier and marble flooring in my entryway versus a $29 HD special flush mount and contractor grade linoleum?

I guess I can see where completely finishing a basement could add some value. But is living space more valuable than storage space? Depends on who you ask (ever price out off-site storage? I've had apartments that cost less).

This whole thing just stinks, if you ask me.

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post #27 of 48 Old 05-11-2011, 06:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlogan6797 View Post

Let's say you have a 40 year old kitchen (avacado green, anyone?) and you remodel it. The house HAD a kitchen 40 years ago and still does.

That kitchen would be an upgrade for me! (Sorry about the small pic. I can't ftp through the firewall at work)
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post #28 of 48 Old 05-11-2011, 06:40 AM
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No avacado green, though. I'm guessing "ALMOND!"

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post #29 of 48 Old 05-11-2011, 06:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlogan6797 View Post

No avacado green, though. I'm guessing "ALMOND!"

Yeah, the dishwasher doesn't fit and has since been replaced with a stainless one. It was rusty inside and was actually a dish dirtier.

But how about those mid-50s Thermador wall ovens and cooktop? I'm torn on replacing them as nothing new fits and it has a nice retro look now. The units are in perfect working condition.
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post #30 of 48 Old 05-11-2011, 07:20 AM
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I like the retro stuff in the kitchen.

I work in taxes, although very little in property tax. I'd comment that a fee simple title is essentially a feudial title, subject to the whim of the crown (and his tax assessors). There are worse things than a re-assessment and/or inspection. Ask the old lady in Connecticut in the Kelo case, affirmed by the 9 wise men.

I permit all my work. As previously stated the tax hit is minor compared to being under the thumb of a little napolean when you try to sell.

I agree that procedure wise its a bit crazy to reassess after a recent transaction.
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