ValueAppeal Rolls Out National Services for Property Tax Appeals, Competing with EasyTaxFix and Others

8/23/10

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are now available to 80 percent of the nation, excluding “some rural areas across the country we don’t cover, and a few select urban areas that have oddball data issues,” Walsh says. And so far, the company says it has lowered its customers’ property tax bills by an average of $839.

Although the company would not comment on its financials, or how many customers it has served thus far, Walsh did note that the venture has attracted investor support. In January the company finalized a $1 million seed round from local angel investors, and brought in another $400,000 in equity financing in February.

ValueAppeal is hardly alone, however. Two years ago, EasyTaxFix jumped into the market, focusing on helping homeowners in San Diego County lower their property taxes. Since then the San Diego startup has expanded to regions that have high over-assessment rates (Seattle is not one of them), charging between $49 and $79, depending on the area. EasyTaxFix co-founder Adam Berkson says this model is working well for them so far, although he adds that the five-person company has decided not to expand into all 50 states nationwide.

“We have served over 7,000 customers,” Berkson told Xconomy via email, adding that the company has an average potential savings of $2,000, average realized savings of $1,000 for customers, and has had a 70 percent success rate with its appeals to date.

The company, which Berkson says was the first to offer do-it-yourself online property tax appeals services, has also recently filed a patent on a subscription-based property assessment monitoring service, and is planning to expand its service offerings soon.

Another rival, LowerMyAssessment offers similar services for calculating the home value, compiling a report, and filling out appeal forms. Their products range from $39.95 to $299.95. What makes ValueAppeal unique, according to Walsh, is the in-house database they operate. While EasyTaxFix calculates comparable properties sales data based on distance, square footage, and a number of other variables, Walsh says ValueAppeal’s approach includes points missed by competitors.

“We use multiple data points like number of bedrooms, bathrooms, lot size, construction quality and on and on, so our analysis is far more robust. That extra data we use in our calculations means we have stronger evidence and a stronger case when it comes to helping people appeal their property assessment,” Walsh says. “LowerMyAssessment doesn’t have an in-house database of property data, or their own valuation algorithm. Their business model involves waiting for a customer to enter an address on their homepage and then pinging a 3rd party vendor who sends back a completed valuation report which they just mark up and resell.”

So what’s coming up next for the property tax appeals market? ValueAppeal will be rolling out new services in September, and may have some forthcoming partnerships. EasyTaxFix says it has a few updates coming up as well.

“We are working on a next-generation product that will be much more comprehensive and expansive,” Berkson says. “I think ValueAppeal and EasyTaxFix are the two companies with the most traction.”

Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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  • kd

    Their service needs a lot more work before it is ready for prime time. I ended up doing most of the work myself (completing the form).

    Their form should at least add up columns, for starters.