Property Tax Appeal Question - Assessed vs. Market vs. Neighbor

I know there are several threads on this topic and I've tried to review each of them.  Based on one of them, I also reached out to an attorney which brings me back to MOL.  I couldn't find information on specifically what I'm looking for and wanted to get updated information.  

I will also reach out to the town assessor, but wanted to get a little more of an education if I could.  So, I'm looking for guidance from individuals that are very familiar with this issue/ here's my question:

According to the attorney, they will only represent us on appeal IF the "Assessment Price is greater than the market value." This is the only measurement they consider in deciding whether to pursue appeal.

Based on our best guess, we do NOT think our assessment is greater than the market value.  The Maplewood market is strong right now, so the assessment is actually less than what we think we could sell it for (of course, this is somewhat up in the air now given current circumstances.). I think this is true for many of the homes from the 2017 assessment based on a quick/novice review. (I'm looking at the 2017 spreadsheet - if there is something else I should be looking at, please let me know.)

However, we have done some research and we do know that relative to other homes, we believe ours is over assessed.  For example, the price per square foot on our house is significantly higher than many of our neighbors, and their homes are definitely worth more in total home price AND on a per square foot basis. These homes are more renovated than ours, bigger lots and better locations. So, we are in the top 10% on a per square foot basis...and we definitely don't have a top 10% home.

This came to our attention when we looked at a couple of recently sold homes.  Upon viewing the homes which are definitely commanding a market price higher than ours and taking into account any difference in size, they still have property taxes that are lower than ours and by significant amount.

My question is, does it matter?  Is assessment vs. market the only basis for appeal?  Is this the only measurement for whether or not our property taxes are accurately and consistently allocated?  Is there something we're missing here?

Thank you for any feedback you may have on this matter.

I used to follow this much more closely but my understanding was always that you could not use the value of neighbors' houses as a reason for appealing your assessment.  It had to be based on something more concrete such as a mistake in the description of your house or something other measurable factor.

I could be wrong so it probably doesn't hurt to ask an attorney.

If you honestly believe that your assessed value is less than the market value of your home, you run the risk of an appeal resulting in a higher assessment than you have now.  I would begin by requesting a copy of your record card from the town (they can email a copy) and reviewing it to determine if there were any errors in the factors used to determine your assessment.

o.k well that's helpful to know.  There may very well be a mistake in the process that lead to a possible over assessment, I will look into it.  Thank you.

ok thank you.  We will request the record card today.

For example our assessment said that we had a partially finished basement, which we did not.

They also use comps from recent sales. 

Per this brochure on tax appeals, the difference between market value (as of the previous October) and assessed value has to be 15% or greater in order to win the appeal.

I don't think you can take any one house and use the comparison of market vs assessed to determine if your tax burden is correct.  If every house in your neighborhood has the same ratio of M to A, then you have no basis for an appeal (based on that metric).  As several above have said, start with the report card.  It wasn't done very long ago.  

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