How To Increase The Value Of Your House With One Phone Call

Increase your home's value with one phone call

Are you wondering how to increase the value of your house? I've been a real estate investor since 2003 and have done a tremendous amount of home improvement over the years.

You can improve the curb appeal and remodel the interior of course. But you can also increase the value of your house with one phone call to the property assessor's office.

However, by making just one phone call, I was able to increase my home's value by ~$160,000. The key takeaway is don't trust the local government to do the right thing automatically.

Property assessors offices are often backed up and may have wrong information about your home. Proper assessors are also bullies who try to extract as much money from you as possible.

Are you already paying higher property taxes for an approved expansion or remodel? Then make sure they have the right information on hand. Calling the property assessors office can increase the value of your house right before you plan to sell.

Get Free Insights From Local Realtors

Every so often I invite a realtor over who has sold a home nearby. I do this to get their assessment of my home. The realtor has perfect information about my neighborhood at the time because he sees all the offers.

He/she knows the demographics of the buyers. In addition, I get insights on how many people are interested versus the same time last year and more.

Do you want to know the pulse of the market? I recommend you do the same. You can get free advice on what you could do differently to increase the value of your house.

Realtors are always happy to stop by to share their opinion and hopefully one day win your business. Even if they don't win your business, at least they will be familiar with your house to pitch to their clients if you ever decide to sell.

The housing market is hot post pandemic. If you want to increase the value of your house further, keep on reading.

Fight For Your House's Value With Proof

When a realtor stopped by my home one time, I explained to him how I created about 144 more square feet of livable space by expanding my master bathroom into the garage (went from a 36 sqft bathroom to a ~180 sqft bathroom).

The garage wasn't big enough to fit two cars tandem and there is plenty of free street parking outside. So I figured I might as well recapture as much of the garage as possible. Garage space does not count as livable square footage, but a bathroom does.

The realtor was impressed with the master bathroom. But, he asked why the city records still only showed my house at 1,729 square feet even though my ~180 square foot master bathroom project was approved last year.

I told him I had no idea, and thought the City would automatically update the square footage. He told me to call the San Francisco Assessor's office to inquire.

Related: Why Home Remodeling Always Takes Longer And Costs More Than Expected

Up To Date 3R Reports Are Important

Having an updated “3R Report” is important when selling a house. The 3R report is a property's report card. It has records of when all permits were pulled and completed. From your home's report card, the city will then tax you accordingly, largely based off your home's square footage.

When listing a property, you can only advertise the official square footage of the house and the number of bathrooms and bedrooms per the 3R report or tax records.

If you market something different, you could set yourself up for liability or an escape door for a buyer to cancel last minute without a penalty.

Therefore, if you want to increase the value of your house, make sure there is an up to date 3R Report on file. This is crucial, especially when livable square footage has been underreported.

Related: How Much Should You Spend Remodeling A House For Maximum Profit?

Property Assessor Backlogs

When I called the San Francisco Assessor's office, they said they were backed up by 3 – 5 YEARS in terms of updating records after building permits have been approved and completed.

This is terrible for anybody who plans to sell sooner. What's the point in paying so much state tax? When I pressed them further to see if there was anything they could do to expedite the appraisal update, they gave me the name, e-mail, and number to my Neighborhood Assessor.

I e-mailed my Neighborhood Assessor ASAP with my request for updating my square footage. I told her I was thinking of selling my house this year (not really), and wanted to get my new square footage up to date.

She e-mailed me back right away and asked for a latest appraisal report which contains a floor plan sketch. All I had was one from before my bathroom expansion.

Area Of Contention: My Office / Sanctuary

Interestingly, she decided that based on the approved floor plans of my entire house I sent in for my bathroom, my house would stay the same size at 1,729 even though I reclaimed about 144 sqft from the garage! 

When I asked her how this could be, she said based on the plans she had, the room where my sanctuary was said “storage” and didn't count as livable space!

I countered that of course my sanctuary is livable space. It has 9 feet tall ceilings, a window with a view of the ocean, a twin size day bed, a piano, a standing desk, and shelves for my clothes.

She refused to budge and told me to come down to City Hall so she could more clearly explain to me how she did her calculations. There was no way I'd waste 1.5 hours of my time to only get rejected. There had to be another way.

The property assessor didn't think this was livable space until she saw the video I sent
The property assessor didn't think this was livable space until she saw the video I sent

Set The Records Straight

Then I noticed that the width and length of my home in the appraisal sketch the assessor had was 1.5 feet shorter than reality. Right there that explains a lot of missing square footage.

I told her I'd happily spend two minutes measuring the width and length of my house and send it to her. But she said “it wasn't a good idea.” WTF.

Finally, I told her that I would send a quick video “MTV cribs” style to show that my sanctuary is truly livable space. She finally acquiesced. As soon as I e-mailed her the video, she called me back and laughed.

She realized she was wrong and assigned a new home square foot size of 1,910. This was 181 square feet larger than the 1729 square feet on record, and 37 square feet MORE than my original estimate of 1,873 after bathroom expansion!

After all, if I created a 180 square foot bathroom out of a 36 square foot bathroom, that means my net addition should be 144 square feet (180 – 36) not an additional 181 square feet.

I didn't argue with her new estimate, because more is better. Besides, her calculations are probably more accurate than mine. Who am I to argue? What I think she may have done was simply forget to subtract the old bathroom's square footage. Who knows with these folks.

Related: Always Focus On Expansion To Create More Real Estate Value

Proactively Create Value

If I had not proactively call the SF Assessor's Office, I never would have gotten a new square foot size of 1,910 on my 3R Report. They would have updated the size of my house 3 – 5 years from now with basically the exact same size (added the bathroom space and removed my sanctuary space because it was mislabeled in the plans).

I would have been pissed and miffed! I am already paying higher property taxes based on the value of my approved bathroom addition.

Going from 1,729 to 1,910 means increasing the value of my home by roughly $163,000 based on a average selling of $900/sqft in my area. What's also important is getting the BONUS 37 square feet of space which is equivalent to an additional $34,000 should I sell. 

Perhaps my original square foot size of 1,729 was wrong in the first place. Whatever the case may be, having an official 1,910 square foot house on my 3R report is golden, especially since it will be the first update since the 1950s.

If I didn't have an updated 3R report, I could always tell prospective buyers that my house is really 1,910 square feet after the bathroom expansion, and the City never properly updated their records.

But throwing out a square foot number is too much of a liability because a buyer could always measure the house themselves and come up with a different number and then back out.

Having 1,910 on my official tax records is much more powerful a statement than anything I could ever say.

Related: Buying A Home With A Listing Agent Can Save You Money

Lessons Learned When Trying To Increase The Value Of Your House

Here are some valuable lessons I learned when calling the property assessors office to increase the value of my house.

Errors occur all the time.

Because it doesn't have the right information, there's a good chance your City Assessors Office is undervaluing or overvaluing your house. 

If you improved the value of your house through a remodel or an expansion, call them to make sure they have the right information on record.

Houses are often valued on a price/square foot basis. The more square feet you have, the more valuable your house all other things being equal.

Use video and pictures to explain any discrepancies. 

My assessor was adamant on following the architectural drawing submitted to the Department of Building when I applied for the bathroom permit.

She couldn't accept my oral assurances that the storage room was actually a full size bedroom / office. 

However, my MTV cribs video was able to set her straight. Thank goodness for technology.

Your home's report card is important when it comes time to sell.

In San Francisco, the 3R report is a mandatory report that is included in the disclosure packet.

Similar types of reports are mandatory in every state. It will have all your approved permits and details about your house.

Your marketing words won't hold as much weight as what's on your official housing report. There will always be a discount for what you say because buyers are always wary.

Related: To Save Money On Property Taxes, Don't Contact The Assessor's Office

Build as many good relationships with local realtors as possible. 

Getting maximum value is about getting enough people to know about your property. 

It takes just one buyer who thinks your property is perfect and pays top dollar for you to receive maximum returns.

Success is a numbers game.

The downside to having a higher assessed value is higher property taxes.

If you never plan to sell your house, then you should try and make your house look as unappealing as possible. You may want to go in reverse and argue several rooms are simply storage rooms instead of bedrooms!

For me, there was no escape. They already had sent me a supplemental property tax bill for the added value of my master bathroom, regardless of my house size, because I had already submitted the estimated cost to build.

As a result, I made sure my living space was up to date and as large as possible since I'm paying for it.

This example of ensuring ~$160,000 in value was created with one phone call and several e-mails should demonstrate the Financial Samurai mindset.

To build great wealth, you must be proactive. Too many people have no idea where all their money goes because they don't track their finances.

Folks naively think their company will benevolently take care of them, so they don't do any research about employee rights and severance negotiation strategies before they get booted to the curb.

The same thing goes for all types of insurance policies. When you finally need it, you don't want any negative surprises!

If you pay property taxes or any type of state taxes, you better make sure the local government isn't short changing you!

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55 thoughts on “How To Increase The Value Of Your House With One Phone Call”

  1. I’m currently in contract to purchase a property that has the wrong info listed (~400 sqft more than listed). All work was done with permits and county records show a bump in taxes about the time of the remodel. After the sale is complete, is there any way of knowing for sure whether the previous owner was paying the higher taxes as a result of the permitted remodel. I’d hate to fill out the form only to be slapped with a higher tax bill.?

  2. Stefan - The Millennial Budget

    If you were not so inquisitive you never would have gotten that additional value to your house. Cannot believe they were backed up 3-5 years that is crazy. What is even more crazy though it that you pay $900 a sq ft! I am complaining about paying 1k rent in the city (I will have a roomate) once I graduate but I will stop complaining now.

  3. Preston @TheDrunkMillionaire

    Holy $900/sqft!!! I’m not in Kansas anymore.. I know this wasn’t the topic of your post, but I am always floored when I hear how expensive the West Coast is. Here in the Midwest, I just payed $100/sqft, albeit no ocean views. :(

  4. I thought to be considered a room (and therefore added to your square footage) in SF that it had to be heated. You didn’t mention the room having heat. Am I wrong in this assumption?

  5. Hey Sam, nice story and it goes to show what doing a bit of financial spring cleaning & investigation can do.

    Your new bathroom sounds nice, would you care to share a photo of that too? :)

    Out of curiosity, compared to say MMM style living, would you say your big bathroom is too big/too much? If an expensive car is bad, why is an expensive bathroom good?


    1. You mean Pete, who makes $50,000+ a month from his site for years but claims he lives on half that a year? It’s hard for me to take his frugal advice too seriously as a result.

      A car is a depreciating asset. Property tends to appreciate over time. A luxury master bathroom is highly coveted by many buyers. But most of all, we love it. It’s my other sanctuary where I write in the hot tub and take business calls for hours.

      Even creating more livable space didn’t create more value, my bent would still be towards a nice bathroom. Having 5-10% the value of your overall house as your master bathroom seems appropriate.

      What do you think?

  6. I, like other readers, thought you were willfully increasing your assessed value for taxes. Good thing you brought it up at the end.

    How ignorant though. A back log of 3-5 years? That’s willful negligence to me. In a city that taxes people’s taxes, you would think they would hire the correct amount of employees. More so, if the average house is going to be seven figures and NOT updating the information means an un-captured sales price for the homeowner to the tune of six figures!

  7. Todd Guthrie

    Great point about calling the county. I’ve also expanded into the garage, adding about 380 sq ft of living space, and I don’t know whether they’ve update the county records yet. Might be worth a phone call.

    I must say that every time I read about your bathroom remodel, I always take issue with your per square foot value estimate. Larger spaces are worth less per square foot than smaller ones, as long as they otherwise have similar features and amenities. Marginal square feet are worth less than average square feet.
    Think about it this way: a bathroom’s a bathroom. Bigger ones are better of course, but most people would not pay five times as much money to buy one that’s five times as big.

    Another interesting topic you might want to write about is how the Assessor values your property, which is not always the same as how an appraiser might do. For example, I believe the San Francisco assessor uses specific formulas, something like $150 per square foot plus $10,000 per bathroom, which they then verify against the reported cost after it’s completed.

    1. If I had a mansion, I would agree with you that 180 ft.² increase in livable space is not that big of a deal. But when I 180 ft.² increases the size of my home by more than 10%, and my home is a cozy sub 2000 ft.², then they 180 square-foot expansion is of significant value.

      At the end of the day, something is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. But hopefully people should realize by now I am a real estate fiend who looks at all the comps, speaks with every single agent, and does his due diligence with the thoroughness of a CIA Agent interviewing a suspected terrorist. Based on what I’ve seen over the past two years, I absolutely believe in the value that I have created by expanding my bathroom and increasing the size of my home. But whatever the case may be, always fight for what is correct.

      If you are happy with paying more property taxes for your expansion into the garage and not have your record updated with your work, more power to you. I can’t stand not getting what I paid for. I don’t ask for more. I just ask for what I deserve.

  8. Wow these numbers are just crazy to me, but good for you getting so much added value that you are paying for Sam. In my area, property values are approx 40-80 per sqft so my 5,000 sqft house would sell for about 310k. When I think about your 180 sqft addition adding 160k of value is simply amazing but also makes me realize how fortunate I am to live in such a low CoL area yet still make 200k+ per year.

    1. Thanks. Yes, and my neighborhood isn’t even in the top 25% most expensive neighborhoods in SF. Go to the north end (Pac Heights, Marina, Cow Hollow, Presidio Heights, Sea Cliff), and we are talking $1,500 – $2,000+/sqft.

      It’s kind of like buying a Ferrari versus a Ford. If you can get IN, you probably do much better reselling a Ferrari than a Ford. But a lot of people can’t get in due to the demand and high prices, which is why there is so much angst in major cities nowadays about property. This is why I recommend everybody at least get NEUTRAL real estate by buying their primary residence.

      See: Three Immediate Solutions To A Housing Affordability Crisis

  9. Good for you, Sam. We need more people who are willing to fight for what is fair.

    I’m going to ask what everyone wants to know: can we, your readers, catch a glimpse of this MTV Cribs-style video? :)

  10. It is the same in Santa Clara county. They are way behind on updating their records. We did a major remodel (nothing but two exterior walls were retained and added 1000+ sqfeet) and they sent a supplemental tax bill with an increase in the tax build treating the build as new construction. They increase was actually 100k more than we spend on the remodel. we tried to contest but no use. We finally gave up and asked him if you are saying we are new build and increasing the tax bill why did the county record still show that our build was 1950’s. He sent a document and told us to go the county and show that and they would change the record. Now our house shows as built in 2014.

    1. I’m glad you got your tax documents rectified!

      But how could they assess the value at MORE than the value you put down for the build? That’s not right! They should only tax you based on the cost you put down. It’s like paying tax on the cost you put down on the title of a second hand car you bought from a private party. They can’t inflate the number. FIGHT IT and ask them to explain their actions.

      1. Sam,
        We had numerous conversation with Santa Clara assessor and we could not convince him. He sent us documents on how they calculate the cost of build and it said they are required to use the tables of data from the California Board of Equalization in Sacramento. And per that data they say that the average cost of construction is 300 per sqft. It did not matter that we shopped carefully and our cost was close to 225 per sqft.

        He said we should be grateful that we have have prop 13 so the increase in land value is discounter. Only the building cost went up.

        I know three other’s in the neighborhood who had the same issue. Two of them are contesting by filling a petition. One of them has lost and the other is in progress.

  11. Sam, I thought your readers were better than that. Why do so many miss your clear reference to “…already paying increased property taxes based on improvement…”, are they just skimming the articles?… when I read it I saw that as one of your main points from the get go. Pay attention people.

    1. I think my posts are too long and detailed, which is one of the reasons why I started the post with a Main Point section.

      What I’m also realizing is that there is a race from some bloggers to leave a comment for comments sake to get a link back. I totally get it. But that is the consequence of writing the post, Blogging For A Living: How Much Can You Really Make? Whatever one writes naturally attracts people about that topic.

      But I do need to tighten up my posts and use more bold and color coordinating I think. This runs contrary to writing the beefiest, helpful posts possible to rank well in search for the long term. Expect some flashy colors in the future!

      1. Ha! I often read your posts a couple times for just that reason — I don’t want you thinking I’m just skimming it. But still, things get missed.

        My posts are much shorter and I’m even considering putting a “summary” sentence or two at the beginning of all of them.

        BTW, the pic above isn’t your house, is it? If it it, it’s gorgeous!!!

      2. I personally don’t think your posts are too long and detailed…I like detail that clarifies and enhances the points. I hadn’t thought of the incentive to skim and comment first you pointed out. “look for the incentive and you will likely find the answer”

  12. Ten Bucks a Week

    Will keep this in mind if I get a home, but now I enjoy the freedom to pick up and leave whenever I want, especially if I can take advantage of lower cost living somewhere else. I will apply this idea to TAKE ACTION and lower my cost of living and negotiate with my employer.

  13. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I avoid the county assessor like a plague. Every time I interact with one, I always ended up paying more tax. The last time one came out, they increased the tax because the previous owner put in a front lawn to make the property more appealing for sale. The lawn has since been removed because we can’t maintain it. I should call them and see if we can get our property tax bill reduced. I’m hesitating because I figure they’ll come out and increase the assessment due to some other stuff…
    If you’re already assessed higher tax, then it make sense to set the record straight.

  14. This probably depends on the location of your property. In Chicago, I have noticed the tax records are wrong on most properties I view. Square Foot off, bathrooms missing, bedrooms missing, etc. Probably thanks to the corruption issues in the government here over the years.

    Therefore any buyer would complete their own measurements. By updating the city, you are only going to add taxes every year. I guess with prop 13 in California, that is a lower risk.

    1. I need to make it more clear in the post and put some bold letters around it that I have already been assessed a higher property tax bill due to the master bathroom expansion. Therefore, if I am already paying higher property taxes for this master bathroom based on an amount that I said it would cost, then why wouldn’t I want to have the city have the most updated records with the increase square footage?

      I think I did a poor job with this article explaining to people why they should get what they deserve and not get beat up by the government and rollover.

      People, if you want to grow your wealth you must take action. Other people and organizations will take advantage of you if you let them. Nobody cares more about your wealth and y other people and organizations will take advantage of you if you let them. Nobody cares more about your wealth than you!

      See the part of the post you missed:

      * The downside to having a higher assessed value is higher property taxes. If you never plan to sell your house, then you should try and make your house look as unappealing as possible. You may want to go in reverse and argue several rooms are simply storage rooms instead of bedrooms! For me, there was no escape. They already had sent me a supplemental property tax bill for the added value of my master bathroom, regardless of my house size, because I had already submitted the estimated cost to build. As a result, I made sure my living space was up to date and as large as possible since I’m paying for it.

  15. I don’t think it’s really worth the time, hassle, or tax increase for this small of a gain on paper. There is no value actually created here. Ultimately, a buyer is the one who determines the price of your home when it is time to sell, and the difference between 1,800 and 1,900 sqft on the 3R is not going to make a lot of difference in an area where hardly anything sells outside of a multiple-bid situation. Getting good staging and excellent photos up will do more to sell your place than a handful of extra sqft.

    Then again, I’m sure you made a nice addition, and like you said, you were being taxed for it anyway, so… In that case, I’d definitely want credit for it ;)

    1. This response is what the government relies on. Citizens not caring about the details even though they get taxed more. This is power at its finest.

      $160,000 may not be a lot to you, but it is a lot to me. If I’m going to be paying higher property taxes already with my approved project, at least I want a clear 3R report to reflect what I’ve done. I don’t want to argue with the buyer how my house is really this X size and not the size stated in the official documents.

      What is the reason why you wouldn’t want to spend 5 to 10 minutes to increase the value of your home and get what you deserve? May I ask what is the value of your home and whether you have done any expansion projects? Or perhaps it is because your net worth is so high that the stuff doesn’t matter? I’m hoping maybe I can write a follow-up post on your perspective. It could be a good one!

      I will never rolled over for the government and let them take advantage of me if I can do something about it.

    1. It will take me 6400 hours at $25 net an hour driving for Uber to make $160,000. It took me about 10 minutes of talking, emailing, videoing to capture the true size of my home I’m paying taxes for. To me, the 10 minutes is worth it.

      What is your income and net worth that makes you believe $160,000 is not worth it? Why wouldn’t you want the correct details of your home in the tax records if you are already being charged for it? I’d like to write a new post about how the government takes advantage of people who don’t bother to keep them honest. I have some other ideas for the post too. Thanks!

      1. I was wondering why you would want to pay higher property taxes, but I didn’t realize you were already being charged more. With that knowledge, I agree it’s definitely worth it.

  16. I have no idea what the city has down for our square footage at all. Never paid attention to it. We just finished off a couple rooms in our lower level, including a new home office since I early retired on 4/1. Maybe now is a good time to take a peek at what the city has down for us.

  17. Ha Ha!! This is why we love you so much-you are willing to challenge the “status quo” and raise a fuss when things don’t make sense! Making a video to document your case is pure genius! And you didn’t have to leave your house to fight at the tax office…I am a practicer of stealth wealth at this point in my life-but when i am thinking of selling-I will remember this advice!

    1. Thank you! The request for me to go down to the assessors office and have them explain to me why they are right even though I know they are not right was so stupid. Of course I know that my sanctuary is livable space and not a storage room as so carelessly written in a appraisal plan. Appraisers spend around 5 to 10 minutes measuring and checking out the house, and we homeowners pay $700-$800 here in San Francisco for their service. They don’t care about the details.

      In fact, I just had an appraiser come to my house last week because I am refinancing it. I asked him whether he has any questions for me regarding the upgrades I’ve made and the remodeling. He said no, even though adding a bathroom, replacing the roof, replacing the windows, remodeling the kitchen and all that stuff is valuable. So many of these guys just ship it in and don’t pay any attention to detail. They make money based on volume. They can probably simply give an appraised value based on Internet comps if they wanted to.

      When the assessors office is backed up by 3 to 5 years, you know they don’t give a f$&? about the details. What they do care about is you paying more and more property taxes regardless. Never accept laziness if you are a paying customer. Hold the government accountable to do the right thing!

      1. The MAD Consultant

        Well said in your reply on each topic.

        The assessed value of your house goes both ways. In your situation you did exactly as you should have. Well done.

        I recall in my first appraisal the guy took 5 minutes. $250 later I couldn’t believe it that’s all he did.

        On the other hand if you assessor says you have more than what you actually do then yes you need to get the correct information. Not only for records, but also to lower your tax bill. Additionally many people pay no attention to their property taxes, or how it’s determined. They just pay into their monthly escrow and always assume property taxes will go up. There is more to be gained by fighting for whats right. Especially when you have a house that’s overvalued according to your Assessor. Best yet is most people could appeal on their own without a lawyer taking up to 50%. It just takes a little legwork as you demonstrated.

  18. Boulder RE/MAX Realtor

    This is a great plan for owners that are looking to sell in the near future. If not planning to sell soon, most people would not financially benefit by making the tax assessor aware that your property has more square footage, and therefore, having a higher taxable valuation. (i.e. paying more property taxes each year)
    Great advise Sam!

  19. When we bought our current house, the square footage didn’t include a sunroom (probably close to a 600 square feet) and until we sell, there’s no chance we’ll mention it to anyone! :)

  20. Mortgage Nick

    Interesting thought, when you sell the bank appraiser for the buyers will also take their own measurements as well. I think this helps a bit reinforce though. Probably the biggest factor is what similar homes are selling for, I’m not sure 100 square feet will make that much of a difference on an appraisal. Would be interesting if you can discuss it with a real estate appraiser who works with a bank and knows your area very well.

    1. Why accept having the wrong records though if you’re paying additional property taxes for the expansion? Why cause unnecessary confusion and doubt in a buyers mind? I think it is important to get what you deserve, not pay for nothing.

      It’s not only 100 ft.² it is an extra 181 ft.² when prices are selling for $900 dollars a square foot, 181 ft.² matters.

      What is the price per square foot in your neighborhood?

  21. The Green Swan

    Wow that is a crazy situation, but good to know. Thanks for sharing.

    Doesn’t San Fran have a city tax of ~1% too!? Government…

    The Green Swan

  22. Financial Slacker

    As I read this, the whole time I kept thinking, why would you want to increae the taxable value of your property? But you addressed this at the end – that your tax asssesment already included the additional square footage. I guess there’s not a 3 to 5 year wait for the city to reassess for the higher taxes.

    If you plan to rent your house, do you think having it listed with as high a value as possible would also be beneficial? I think renters would typically look at the value of the property in determinng whether they feel the asking rent is reasonable.

    1. Yes, it would. The value of something is often times calculated based on the rent one would pay. A house 180 sqft larger can house one additional person. If rent averages $1,800 per person in my neighborhood, that is $21,600 a year in additional rent. If we apply a 4% cap rate to $21,600, that equals $540,000 in value.

      More is more when it comes to real estate. It would be dumb to pay more taxes on an expansion and not have the records reflect the expansion.

  23. DIY Money Guy

    My first thought was on paying the higher property taxes. I need to go through and take these actions for my house. I bought my home as a foreclosure and have done a ton of remodeling as well as the listed square footage is incorrect. But I was going to try to time it and go through this about a year before we plan to sell. I always try to front load investments and defer taxes. I would think I should treat my home the same way and defer getting an appraisal to avoid paying the higher taxes as long as possible.

    1. Here’s the thing. When you do an expansion, you must apply for a permit. The permit is to ensure safety and that everything from electrical, to plumbing, to building is done to code so your house doesn’t fall down or catch fire. There are multiple checks in place to make sure your contractor doesn’t do a poor job. It protects the homeowner. A house with building done to code with approved permits sell better than ones that don’t. Who knows what lurks behind the sheetrock otherwise?

      The downside is that once the project is approved by the building department, you pay the property tax rate X the value of your project forever. In my case, I was already assessed on higher supplemental bill for my bathroom expansion. Therefore, I bad sure the records updated my real livable square footage. It would be lazy and stupid of me to pay higher property taxes and not get what I deserve. But that is what the government counts on… for people to not take action.

      TAKE ACTION people.

  24. Apathy Ends

    It’s nice to see they can ring up your tax bill accurately, but don’t give you the benefit of the updated sq ft in the report.

    My latest government battle was overs “shrubs” and “plants” that had to be planted on our property to close on our house. After a few emails (including the dictionary definition of what a shrub is) I caved.

  25. Believe Fire

    “If you never plan to sell your house, then you should try and make your house look as unappealing as possible.”

    Haha, I always assumed some people were just lazy, never considered they were brilliant tax geniuses.

    Interesting process. Thanks for walking us through it and congratulations on adding $160,000+ of value to your home.

  26. Dr.J @ MedSchool Financial

    It is helpful to be able to maximize value, especially when in this case it was mainly clerical. Great work on reallocating the garage space, a lot of people end up using it for storage anyways, rather than its originally intended use.

    1. PhysicianOnFIRE

      That was my first thought, too, but he addresses it in the post. The short answer is yes, which is why I would hesitate to make that phone call unless I was preparing to sell / move.

    2. That was my only worry – the fear of paying higher taxes!

      It is crazy they are 3-5 years behind on updating assessments. I’m glad you got it fixed so you can get more $ should you ever sell! =(

    3. If you order and pay for a Lamborghini Hurcan, and get a Honda Fit, wouldn’t you make them send you a Huracan?

      What if you paid for a Macbook Pro 13″ with 16GB of RAM, but were delivered a 13″ with only 8GB of RAM? It’s best to get what you paid for. Although some people will just roll over and let other people/organizations take advantage of them.

      Don’t let other people take advantage of you. This is one of the key points of this post. FIGHT FOR THE TRUTH. The government and other people will take advantage of you if you let them.

      See this part of the post:

      * The downside to having a higher assessed value is higher property taxes. If you never plan to sell your house, then you should try and make your house look as unappealing as possible. You may want to go in reverse and argue several rooms are simply storage rooms instead of bedrooms! For me, there was no escape. They already had sent me a supplemental property tax bill for the added value of my master bathroom, regardless of my house size, because I had already submitted the estimated cost to build. As a result, I made sure my living space was up to date and as large as possible since I’m paying for it.

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