Ask Andy: Appealing your Shelby County property appraisal

By Andy Wise - bio | email

MEMPHIS (WMC TV) - June 30 is the deadline to appeal your 2010 Shelby County property tax appraisal.

By the looks of the appraisals, 5,000 of you should be gearing up.

According to the property data trackers at Chandler Reports ( or, that's how many Shelby County residents have property appraisal values that are "significantly higher" than comparable sales in their neighborhoods.

The inflated values are bloating their tax bills.

"The feedback we have received is that most people did not realize that they could appeal their taxes each year once the (4-year) reappraisal was completed," said Wendy Greenlaw, business development manager for Chandler Reports.

Most people also don't realize that home sales and property data are public records. Shelby County homeowners can check their property information right on the Shelby County Property Assessor's web site:

That's where you can double-check square footage, property measurements and sales data, including comparable sales ("comps") and values of other homes in your neighborhood.

Last year, Cheryl Palmer discovered the assessor made a 300 square-foot mistake in the assessment of her Germantown property.

"They included the garage (and a catwalk) as living space," she said. The mistake nearly doubled her property taxes.

She got on the assessor's website, boned up on her home's specs, satellite pictures and square footage and got an assessor out to her house the next day.

He promptly lowered her property taxes.

"Not to where they were, but better. A lot better," Palmer said.

As an accountability measure, Chandler Reports offers a $49 tax tool kit (please see links above).  In addition to sales comps, the kit includes a foreclosure effect report that analyzes the impact of foreclosures over the last two years on home values within a quarter mile of your house.

Greenlaw said Chandler Reports' data analysts will even help you find 2009 sales comps in your neighborhood that the assessor's office might have missed.

"So we'll make sure that you have the correct sales so when you go to the assessor, the Board of Equalization, you know exactly which sales to present to fight your case," she said.

Anne Caraway of East Memphis used Chandler Reports to fight her property appraisal. According to comps data, her White Station-area home was over-valued by more than $15,000.

After she followed the Chandler Reports tool kit, she said the assessor came back with a more reasonable value -- and a lower tax burden.

"The assessor came back with a $1,000 savings for us over a four-year period, so it was really nice to get that break," said Caraway.

For dates, phone numbers and helpful information on how to initiate an appeal by June 30 with the Shelby County Board of Equalization, please click here:

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