Property Tax update 2012 – should you protest?

I have had a number of clients ask me if we are still doing property tax protests, as they had received a handful of pieces in the mail from our competitors encouraging them to protest your property taxes, but not one from our firm.

2011 Status
Our office has only recently resolved our property taxes cases for 2011. The conclusion of these cases makes for the first time in 3 years that one year was complete before the next year started. During those 3 years we have protested over $745,000,000 in values, so from our perspective it certainly feels like most of the commercial and apartment buildings that could be protested have been done.

2012 protests
Although I am always glad to review your properties, for the most part I am recommending to my clients that they not protest their values this year. WHY you might ask? It’s simple, according to our value survey (attached), the market has started to turn the corner, and after 3 solid years of being able to lower our client’s property’s values, we think that window of time is drawing to a close.

Is there a downside to protest your property taxes every year?
Yes, when you file a protest, you open the door to an increase in value. If in reviewing your property’s info the assessor find cause to believe your property is under assessed, the can request an increase in value, and although I’ve never had it happen to me, I’ve had many assessors threaten to raise values, particularly when they feel a property owner filed a frivolous protest.

Material change in property in 2010 or 2011
I think the exception to this would be if your property has experienced a substantial physical or occupancy change in 2010 or 2011.

2013 is a reappraisal year
Although state law requires each county to reappraise its portfolio of properties every two years, many counties have gone for long periods of time with minimal increases in value.

Santa Fe County has announced that it has expanded its budget to bring all of the commercial properties to current and correct. My understanding is that Sandoval county is staffing up with the intent of revaluing all commercial properties, and Bernalillo County has indicated a similar effort.

Property Tax Lightning
As you may recall, the property tax lightning battle that is entering its fourth year, has been previously won a formal board level as well as district court, but those decisions have been appealed to the appellate court, which has not provided a ruling.

Apartment Tax Lightning
The back story for apartment tax lightning is a bit convoluted and long – so rather than bore you with the details, I can tell you that apartment owners continue to prevail in these cases – a summary of our 2011 cases can be found here – as well as the 2010 cases here-

If you would like to learn how our property tax system works, how to protest your own properties, or just need CE credit – our next course will be May 24th, 2012 – registration at

If you don’t have time for the class, but would like the knowledge, we offer a 365 page textbook in both physical ($59 ) and digital form ($49 ). You can order your book online at

If you are curious as to your property’s value or if you ever need to look up your property taxes from your iPhone or iPad – consider our $0.99 app – which can be found online at . The Taxessor App takes the values from resolved cases and matches them up to your property to give you an indication of whether it might be possible to obtain a reduction.

Resource to look up your property’s historical values
Finally, If you need to look up more than years history at a time and you are tired of multiple
“clicks” and screens on – try out website – – (scroll down and look in the left hand margin for the “Lookup your property taxes” – once you enter your UPC # and go – it will pull up a 10 year history of notices of values, and tax bills all on one screen.

As always, if you need anything related to property taxes in New Mexico, don’t hesitate to email or call me

Todd Clarke CCIM
Cantera Consultants & Advisors Inc.

Apartment Property Tax Lightning update – 2011

On the 30th of January, 2012 our firm had a formal property tax protest hearing in front of the Bernalillo County property tax protest board.

The hearing took approximately 2 and 1/2 hours and the Bernalillo County assessor was represented by one commercial appraiser, one residential appraiser, the head of the residential department, as well as the county assessor.

We framed ourside of that case that this was not a not a decision of “value”, but rather implementation of the law and that the assessor’s office had not been executing the current laws consistently for all apartments. The assessor’s office framed their case as one of “value”, and we stipulated to the assessor’s updated value if the board found in favor of the assessors (this means that your property will receive a reduction either way, the only question is how much of a reduction).

Since we had close to a dozen apartment property tax lightning cases that had the same issue, we respectfully requested that the board here the arguments for all property’s and implement them individually on each property (this allowed the board to hear a dozen cases in 2.5 hours vs. 30 hours).

The outline document that is attached served as our narrative as we walked the formal property tax board through the following steps:
– demonstrate that your property is classified as residential
– demonstrate that your property had experienced more than a 3% increase
– demonstrate that other counties have been executing the law with no more than a 3% increase
– demonstrate that the Bernalillo County assessor’s office lost apartment tax lighting cases in 2010
– pull apart the logic underlying the assessor’s case as to why apartments should be treated different than single family homes
– pull apart the logic underlying the assessor’s case as to why apartments should be treated the same whether they are owner occupied or not
– share with the board the stipulated agreement we negotiated with the county in 2010
– remind the board of former board decisions that have found in favor of the apartment owner
– remind the board of former district court decisions that have found in favor of the apartment owner

Finally, we were able to get one of the appraisers to testify that the assessor’s office had a policy of rolling back apartments to the 3% over previous years value, but only in cases that had been previously protested, which demonstrated an uneven application of the law.

The assessor’s office presentation was focused entirely on how they had arrived at the value for the protest.

Unofficially, we have been informed from 3 different sources (including the assessor’s office) that we have prevailed in these cases, but as of this date, have not received written confirmation. As soon as we do, I will forward a copy for your files as well as an invoice showing the new value. The treasurer should then have their records updated prior to the May 2012 payment window.

If you would like a refresher on how our county got to where we are on apartment values – you can find a series of updates on our website at, with the most detailed explanation at .

Please email me if you would like to receive copies of the outline and/or the exhibits presented.