As a longtime property appraiser, former home builder for twenty years, and licensed real estate broker I learned something from someone who seemingly was a novice in the real estate market and industry.
My son Paul Jr. lived in Oviedo, FL (Seminole County) at the time when he phoned my Lake County office at Midstate Appraisals and asked me about his recent county home value assessment. I never thought to fight the county, or anyone within the government (local, state, or federal).
My son Paul Jr. however has a bit more chutzpah when it comes to negotiation and doesn’t roll over easily. (It also doesn’t hurt that he was trained in Strategic Negotiations & Deal-making at Harvard Business School.)
Nevertheless I at the time thought he didn’t know what he was talking about and immediately told him, “Don’t even try it. You’re not going to win. Don’t waste your time.” Unmoved, Paul Jr. half-heartedly listened to me and proceeded to ask to speak to another appraiser at our office to get a second opinion.
The office associate asked Paul Jr. how much the county had valued his home for. To which he replied $229,000. Paul Jr. bought the two-story, six bedroom, four bath home with swimming pool a year prior for $223,500 ($6,500 off the asking price which he also negotiated). The county’s assessment seemed like a mild price increase based on the fact that home values have been known to escalate up to $100,000 in a single year in Florida.
Not wanting to discourage him, the associate somewhat agreed with Paul Jr. that he might have a valid point and said he might want to ask the county to remedy the discrepancy. Paul Jr. completed the documentation and phoned the Seminole County property appraiser to dispute the valuation.
As is customary Paul Jr. asked the county appraiser to come out and look at the house for himself and see how poorly the 6 bedroom, 4 bath home was constructed (He learned about construction from me as a kid growing up).
Upon buying the home, Paul Jr. began to notice several minor flaws in the construction. Trivial stuff like poor carpentry on the stairway, settlement cracks on the pool deck, and some drywall gaps around the air conditioner unit in the garage. When the appraiser came out, Paul Jr. patiently walked him through the house pointing out all of these flaws and requested that his home’s assessed value be reduced accordingly.
A few weeks later, Paul Jr. received a letter from Seminole County saying they had agreed to reduce his home valuation to $209,000. Though this kind of adjustment may not be what most homeowners want, my son had his house completely paid off. That being said his tax burden was decreased by $600 that year. Not a bad chunk of change to save for a few minutes of negotiating.
Based on my son’s success, now we not only appraise property but also help in any negotiations with the county property appraiser. For a fee of course.
Paul Jr. learned when reading the fine print of his county property appraiser’s assessment that third parties can represent homeowners when disputing property valuation assessments. I guess you could say through Paul Jr.’s own experience and professional academic training (which cost me a pretty penny), he serendipitously stumbled into a market niche working with his old man.
Incidentally in case you’re wondering if Paul Jr. took a loss when he bought his Seminole County home, not in the least. He owned it for about two-years and sold it for $282,500, above the price my brokerage listed it for (the kid knows how to negotiate), and pocketed a $59,000 profit upon sale.
I wish I could say I taught my son everything he knows. What I can now say however is that we now know the ins and outs of property appraising, which keeps our phones constantly ringing.
Paul Davis is Central Florida’s favorite and most reputable property appraiser frequently called upon by banks, homeowners, and savvy real estate investors to assess property values. A builder for over twenty years and also a real estate broker, Paul Davis brings a wealth of knowledge to the table as an appraiser.
Paul’s company Midstate Appraisals serves Central Florida (Lake, Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Sumter and Davenport in Polk counties).
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