OWM Newsletter
June, 2012


Attorney Spotlight

Michael B. Murray, Jr., Esq., has brought over fifteen years of diverse business law experience, including Real Estate, Municipal Law, Contracts and Project Management, with particular emphasis in Zoning and Land Use matters, to O’Donnell Weiss and Mattei to Co-Chair the firms growing Regional Zoning and Land Use Practice Group.

In his years of real estate and land use practice, Mike has represented developers, land owners, telecommunications companies and other applicants in every phase of obtaining project approvals from Municipal, County, State and Federal agencies. Mr. Murray has also served as a solicitor for municipalities, municipal authorities and zoning hearing boards. This public sector expertise promotes development of strong relationships with elected and appointed officials and brings a practical approach to cut through "red tape" and think "outside the box" to solve complicated issues and obtain project approvals.

Mike currently resides in North Coventry Township with his wife and three sons. He is actively involved in local youth sports organizations, charitable organizations and State and local politics.

Phone: 610-323-2800
Fax: 610-718-1365
Email: mmurray@owmlaw.com

The material in this publication was created as of the date set forth above and is based on laws, court decisions, administrative rulings and congressional materials that existed at that time, and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. The information in this publication is not intended to create, and the transmission and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship.


Tax Assessment Appeals – Are your Real Estate Taxes Too High Because of an Inaccurate Assessment of Your Property?

Over the last decade there have been severe economic impacts to the value of real estate in Pennsylvania as well as the rest of the United States. Those severe impacts to the value of real estate have caused inaccurate assessments of commercial and residential real estate. When an assessment of your property is not accurate, it is not based on the true fair market value of your property, the result is quite often that you are paying significantly more in real estate taxes then you should be paying.

Furthermore, many people confuse the Assessed Value of their property with the Fair Market Value of their property. Your tax bills provide you with the Assessed Value of your property which today is a fraction of the true Market Value of your property. When individuals see the Assessed value which is far less than what they believe the Market Value of their property is, they often believe they should not appeal their tax assessment, because if they bring it to the attention of the County Board of Assessments, their taxes could actually increase. Property owners should not feel this way. As I’ve researched many of the neighborhoods in both Chester and Montgomery Counties, including my own property, I noticed that most of the owners of homes that have been built in the last 10 years, or have had any improvements constructed on an older home that would have triggered the County to reassess their property, are overpaying their real estate taxes. I personally was overpaying my real estate taxes by over a thousand dollars a year.

As a general rule of thumb, a four bedroom home with a value of $375,000 should have an assessed value under $200,000 and yearly taxes well under $6,000. A three bedroom home with a value of $325,000 should have an assessed value under $170,000 and yearly taxes well under $5,000.

Many property owners are misled because the default computer generated county assessed value on your tax bills is almost half of the county assigned fair market value. It is logical to then believe that you are being taxed fairly because your home has a fair market value of $375,000. But in fact that $375,000 home is being taxed as if it was worth almost $500,000 - a value assigned by a computer model - and the owners are paying over $1,600 in extra taxes every year!

Counties limit the time when you can file an Annual Tax Assessment Appeal. The annual appeal period begins May 1 and runs until August 1 in Chester, Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks and Lancaster Counties and August 15 in Berks County. If you choose to appeal your tax assessment, there are normally no intrusive county inspections of your property, and your tax rate could be significantly lowered for the 2012 tax year and every year thereafter. Our office will use comparable property values and advise you to obtain an appraisal to argue for an adjustment to your home’s value on your behalf. We have helped many of our neighbors to do the same.

Since our office will handle all of the details with the County Board of Assessments, the process requires very little of your time. The entire cost of the appeal can be paid for with just a few months of the permanent annual tax savings that comes from this process. If you would care to discuss your particular real estate tax assessment in detail, please call me at 610-232-2800 or email me at mmurray@owmlaw.com. Also, please watch OWM's June/July 2012 Legal Talk program regarding Real Estate Assessment Appeals on PCTV, Tuesdays at 8:30 on Channel 28, and Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on Channel 98, or on our website here.

Firm News

OWM Law is very proud to announce that two of our attorneys have been named 2012 "Rising Stars" by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Magazine and www.superlawyers.com: Ryan A. Costello, Esq. for Land Use, and Kathleen M. Martin, Esq., a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA), for Elder Law. Please see press release here.

Upcoming Events

David A. Megay, Esq., speaking at SCORE business planning seminars on 9/10/12 and 11/5/12 (contact SCORE at 610-327-2673).

OWM Law sponsoring First Friday celebration in Phoenixville on 7/6/12, 8/3/12, 9/7/12 and 10/5/12 - please visit our table.

Read Legal Ease every other Sunday in the Pottstown Mercury.

Watch Legal Talk, brought to you by OWM, on PCTV, Tuesdays at 8:30 on Channel 28, and Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on Channel 98, or on our website at www.owmlaw.com/legal_talk/legal_talk.php.

O'Donnell,Weiss & Mattei, P.C.

41 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
Fax: 610-323-2845

347 Bridge Street, Suite 200
Phoenixville, PA 19460
Fax: 610-917-9348