The Costly Consequences of Overreaching: Lessons from a Property Assessment Dispute


A recent property assessment dispute has shed some light on the importance of careful decision-making and prudent legal counsel. In this case, a property owner challenged the assessed value of their property in an attempt to reduce their tax burden. However, their pursuit of an ambitious claim turned out to have costly implications serving as a valuable lesson about the risks of overreaching and the significance of balanced judgment. Let’s take a closer look at this case, and explore the implications of this cautionary tale.

The Property Assessment Dispute:

The narrative begins with a local tax assessor reducing the assessed value of the property from $100 million to $94 million. Despite the adjustment already working in his favor, the property owner was unsatisfied and challenged the assessment, claiming that the value had plummeted to a mere $52 million. To their surprise, the assessor then responded by notifying them before the hearing that the valuation should actually be increased to $113 million .

Upon challenging the assessment, the property owner had to navigate the appeals process. Ultimately, the Appeals board sided with the tax assessor, sustaining the higher value of $113 million. The trial court and the court of appeal affirmed the decision of the Appeals board, leaving the property owner paying much higher property taxes.

The Costly Consequences:

If the property owner had accepted the $94 million dollar assessment, the property taxes would have been reduced by about $75,000 a year.  Once the assessor revisited the valuation, and the courts affirmed the assessor’s decision, property taxes increased by about $162,500 a year!  The property owner’s insistence on pursuing an overly ambitious claim resulted in significant financial consequences. By claiming a 48% decline in the value of the property, the owner incurred additional taxes of $237,500 in the first year alone. This inflated tax liability is likely to  increase by two percent a year for as long as the owner holds the property.

The Lesson Learned:

This cautionary tale reminds us of the timeless saying from the stock market: “Bulls make money in a bull market. Bears make money in a bear market. Pigs go broke.” While it is essential to advocate for one’s interests and secure robust legal representation, it is equally important to have counsel that can provide a comprehensive evaluation of the risks involved.

The Importance of Prudent Due-diligence:

While aggressive representation can be effective in certain circumstances, it is crucial to exercise due-diligence and consider the potential ramifications of one’s actions. In this case, the property owner’s counsel should have advised them on the potential consequences of their ambitious claim (and perhaps they did). Prudent decision-making entails carefully weighing the risks, assessing the long-term goals, and making informed choices.

Our team at Hamlin | Cody prioritizes a balanced approach that considers both your objectives and the potential consequences of various actions. Our goal is to help you make informed decisions by thoroughly evaluating the risks involved and providing you with clear and practical advice.

Hamlin | Cody: Protecting Your Interests by Mitigating Risks

This recent property assessment decision serves as a stark reminder of the importance of balanced judgment and due-diligence, especially within the realm of legal matters. Demanding more than you expect to receive is a legitimate negotiating tool. At the same time, the demand needs to be in the realm of reason. Otherwise, it will lead to conflict and increased legal expenses. At Hamlin | Cody, we will offer practical advice.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and experience the difference that our committed legal representation can make in your case. Together, we will navigate the complexities of the legal landscape and safeguard your interests.