Why am I paying property tax on land when I own a condo?
November 24, 2009 9:15 AM Subscribe
So confused! My county thinks we have a condo but we thought we have a single-family home (i.e. a free-standing house on land we own). Then why does my property tax bill show that we've been taxed for the land?
posted by ObeyScient to Law & Government (11 answers total)
Here's a confusing and somewhat obscure situation. Please bear with me; I'll try to explain all the details and what I know as clearly as I can.
We're trying to refinance our (free-standing) house and as part of the process we had an appraisal. According to the appraisal report, we have a condo, not a single-family home. Zillow also thinks we have a condo. The appraiser told me that the definition of a condo is that the owner only owns the immediate space they live in, but not the land or other common areas. So our house was assessed as a free-standing building that is part of a complex, with the land being labeled "common area", even though we don't belong to an HOA or condo association, don't pay any fees, and do the maintenance ourselves.
The county's assessor's map shows that we live on a single lot with our neighbor. Our house is on an L-shaped chunk of the lot, and our neighbor's house is on the chunk inside the L. We're separated by a fence. Our respective parcel numbers are subsections of the lot and are designated for use as "Condominium - single residential living unit". The land itself has its own parcel number, with the use is designated as "condominium common area". The map also says "common area".
However, the property tax records for both us and our neighbor show that our taxable value comprises both land and improvements! If we look up the "common area" parcel, it shows that no one has paid any taxes on it at all.
I was not involved with the original purchase of the property, as my wife bought the house before we got married. Her understanding was that she owned the L-shaped chunk of land as well as the house, but we don't have any documentation to support this.
So, I have a few questions. I'd really appreciate insight into any of them.
1. Did someone pull a fast one on my wife? That is, did she pay a single-family home price for land + house but only get the house?
2. If we actually own a condo, then why are we paying property taxes on the land *and* the improvements? (I understand that we should be paying property tax on the house itself.)
3. How can I find out who actually owns the "common area", and should that person be the one who pays property tax on the land?
4. Are we entitled to any of the back taxes we've paid based on the value of the land?
5. Lastly, if it does turn out that we own a single-family home, would this increase our appraised value? How would we go about making the legal change?
Thanks for any help you can provide.