ValueAppeal Rolls Out National Services for Property Tax Appeals, Competing with EasyTaxFix and Others
Who wouldn’t want to lower their property taxes? That’s the question on the minds of the team over at ValueAppeal, a Seattle-based startup that helps online customers to quickly evaluate their current value of their real estate property, and to create a custom property tax appeal that could potentially save them money.
The company, founded in February 2009 by Charles Walsh, the former CEO of Bothell, WA-based data storage company ISSI Data, says it makes the expertise of a property tax attorney available to homeowners easily and conveniently through an online tool. Using Web 2.0 tools, ValueAppeal and rivals like LowerMyAssessment of Lynwood, WA, and San Diego-based EasyTaxFix, which Bruce profiled in 2008, are offering similar online service elsewhere across the country.
Walsh, a Seattle native, told me he got the idea for ValueAppeal in the fall of 2008, around the time he sold ISSI Data to data space competitor Media Recovery. He was looking for his next project. What he found was that, one in four homes in the United States are over-valued by local government assessors each year—and the process of appealing is tedious, to say the least.
“I had a background in real estate and I wanted to do something that combined my interest in real estate and the power of web 2.0 tools. A friend mentioned how difficult it was to appeal your property tax assessment so I looked into appealing my own assessment and discovered that the process is opaque, time-consuming, and intimidating,” Walsh told Xconomy via email. “I decided to change that, and ValueAppeal was born.”
The problem, Walsh says, is nothing new. It’s the solution that’s been hard to come by. Appealing a property assessment can seem complicated, and the process varies from county to county.
“Real estate values go up and down over time and many assessors do not adjust their assessed values quickly enough to match market values,” Walsh says. “So, many homeowners can become severely over-assessed rather quickly in any given year.”
ValueAppeal built a system to make the whole process easier. Here’s how it works: Interested homeowners can type their address into the database on ValueAppeal’s website, to see if their home has been over-assessed. The database compares it to the assessments for similar homes elsewhere in the county, to ensure accurate results. If the database determines that a home has been over-assessed, then ValueAppeal will file an appeal for a $99 fee. If your property tax isn’t lowered, the company says it will refund your money.
ValueAppeal spent 20 months building out its database to include counties nationwide—starting with areas like King County, San Mateo County, Riverside County, and most of Maryland. It’s services … Next Page »