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Christopher S. Mulvaney, Esq.

HERE is a link to King County Property Tax information from the County website.

Tips for filing an appeal:

  1. File online using eAppeals!  This will allow you to check on the current status of your appeal at any time and allow you to instantly view appeal related documents sent to you by the Board of Equalization and the King County Assessor.
  2. Include all evidence with your appeal, or submit it as soon as possible.  An early submission will increase the possibility of receiving a reduction offer from the Assessor without having to attend a hearing.  Examples of useful types of evidence include but are not limited to:
    • Sales info of similar properties with sales dates close to the valuation date (January 1st)
    • Professional cost estimates to fix any structural defects or maintenance issues
    • Recorded documents that reference any easements or other restrictions on the property
    • Official communications or documentation from city, county, or an environmental agency confirming environmentally critical areas exist on the site, and/ or any development limitations affecting the property

In order to succeed on a valuation appeal you need to have at least two comparables from December to October of the previous year, since the valuation is based on January 1st, that are both at least 10% below the value of your home.  Comparables in December are given the most weight, with decreasing weight given for each month further away from the January 1st valuation date. That is why comparables not in the fourth quarter of the year have little value.

That means a match of:

type of home,

year built,

location,

square footage,

bedrooms,

bathrooms, and

condition

in the correct time period with a low enough value. 

This is very difficult to do because values are often slightly depressed in December. 

When you calculate the multiple used to translate market value into assessed value, even swings of tens of thousands of dollars don’t make that much difference in your tax bill. For example, if your property tax is .007 percent of assessed value then a decrease in assessed value of $20,000 would result in a reduction of tax of $140.

Divide your current tax amount by the assessed value to find your percentage of tax to calculate the amount of reduction in your tax bill resulting from the reduction in assessed value.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I have had a lot of clients try and fail to get a meaningful adjustment based on comps. 

UNDERSTAND THAT PROPERTY TAXES ARE BASED ON ASSESSED VALUE, WHICH IS OFTEN SUBSTANTIALLY BELOW MARKET PRICE. STRONG APPRECIATION YEAR AFTER YEAR HAS WIDENED THIS GAP SUCH THAT ASSESSED VALUE IS OFTEN LESS THAN 80% OF MARKET PRICE. THAT MEANS YOU HAVE HAVE TO HAVE TRULY COMPARABLE SALES WITHIN THE TIME FRAME THAT MATTERS THAT ARE MORE THAN 30% LOWER THAN THE ASSESSED VALUE OF YOUR HOME (ABOUT 2O% TO OVERCOME THE FACT THAT ASSESSED VALUE IS LESS THAN MARKET VALUE, AND ANOTHER 1O% TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN TAXES). THIS IS VERY UNLIKELY.

The more likely to succeed approach is something particular to the property such as pictures of structural damage, black mold, or a neighborhood change like a new light rail interfering with your property.

I spoke with the Assessor’s Office by phone and they explained how property taxes are set. It is counterintuitive. The Assessor starts with the budget target for the year. Then the Assessor looks at the Statutory constraints on increases in property tax which set a maximum percentage per year. Then the Assessor apportions tax according to assessed value (which has two parts – land and improvements). Assessed value is typically at least 10% under market value. That is why it is so difficult to find market value comparables less than assessed value.

What that means is that the Assessor has to hit the budget target. Any reduction in your taxes is an increase in someone else’s taxes. I hope that helps explain the challenge involved.

The fact that about 5,000 people per month move to King County and housing stock cannot accommodate that is why prices continue to rise. This is also why so many multi-family condominiums and apartments are being built.


Legal Services Offered


THIS WEBSITE INCLUDES GENERAL INFORMATION AND

THE OPINIONS OF CHRISTOPHER S. MULVANEY WHICH ARE INTENTED TO STIMULATE A BASIS FOR QUESTIONS RELATED TO YOUR PARTICULAR FACTUAL CIRCUMSTANCES BEFORE YOU ACT.  



THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.



IF YOU WANT LEGAL ADVICE, PLEASE MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO SPEAK WITH ME.


While my practice is centered on helping consumers get out of debt and protect themselves and their families in the event of death or incapacity, I am happy to offer additional legal services to my existing estate planning and bankruptcy clients.


Are you worried about mounting debt?


Or facing a Judgment, Garnishment or Foreclosure?


Have you been putting off getting an estate plan for too long?


I offer my clients legal counsel regarding foreclosure, buying and selling real estate, Transfer on Death Deeds, and real estate matters generally.  


MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC does not do litigation.


Christopher S. Mulvaney’s Mission:

To Always Be a Human Being First – and My Role Second. 

To First, Do No Harm, then to provide the best legal outcome, smoothest process, best value, and to make a positive difference in the life of every client.

Christopher S. Mulvaney’s Mantra:

May I be filled with loving kindness for all life.

May I be safe from dangers within and without.

May I be healthy in body, mind, socially, and spiritually.

May I be at ease and happy doing good in the world.


Every client is an estate planning client. 

Additional services related to debt, bankruptcy, and real estate are available to estate planning clients.


I offer initial ZOOM legal consultations to prospective estate planning and bankruptcy clients for two reasons:


(1) determining if the issues are within my practice areas (the “wheelhouse“), and


(2) determining whether a potential client is willing to let me lead them to the best likelihood of achieving a favorable outcome with the smoothest process of getting there. 



CONTACT FORM




DISCLAIMER:  The use of email or this form for communication with MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC does not establish an Attorney-Client Relationship. Time-sensitive information should not be sent through this Form or through email.  Confidential information can be uploaded into a shared encrypted folder after you have made initial contact with me.


For more information about my practice in Bellevue, Washington, please consult my Blog.



  • Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, Issaquah, Sammamish, Maple Valley, Burien, SeaTac, and throughout King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties.


If you have read this far, you may be interested to know what I need to explain to potential clients very quickly which is the intersection in the Venn Diagram above of my practice areas and insurance coverage. As you can see the numbers of case types that are not in my practice areas is large, as is the number of case types that are neither in my practice area nor covered by legal insurance. The intersection is what I call the Wheelhouse. It contains two practice areas – estate planning and bankruptcy that pay all of the bills.

The small miscellaneous bit of my practice which I only do in conjunction with estate planning (bankruptcy is also done in conjunction with estate planning, so every client is an estate planning client. The challenge to me is to quickly explain to prospective clients that the long list of miscellaneous services on the left side of the diagram do not pay the bills – they are simply done to assist my estate planning clients with other matters that are not economical for lawyers to handle in isolation, so they would likely have difficulty finding counsel to assist them.

That is the difference between paying out of pocket by the hour and using flat fee legal insurance. If you are paying by the hour, you have more latitude regarding what the scope of service includes and what it does not. However, if the issue is too small you are not likely to find a lawyer to assist you even if you are willing to pay more than the market hourly rate because many smaller cases interfere with revenue production, increase stress, and increase risk.

That is an important part of why I do what I do the way I do it. There are many lawyers to serve you if you have means, in the manner you wish to be served. However, the majority of middle class and lower middle class people do not have access to legal representation and advice when they need it. In 1979, I heard Jimmy Carter give a speech in which he said that America is over lawyered and under represented. That is more true now than it was then.

I see my niche in the law as representing people in the most economical way possible for the most people, which is through legal insurance. Egalitarian access to legal services affordable by as many people as possible is a value for me. I have the privilege of earning a living in a manner that is consistent with my values. So, if you choose to become a client of MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC I thank you for allowing me to be who I am in my work, and to serve with my whole self – not divorced from consideration for the good of society in the pursuit of forever more profit.