Property Assessment Review (PAR) is the largest residential and commercial property tax consulting firm in the metropolitan St. Louis Area. PAR Residential was created to help property owners with their annual property tax assessments to ensure fair taxation.
“We help businesses and homeowners advance and keep more of their hard-earned money,” said David Dempsey, partner and director of client services. “I always use the air conditioning example. A homeowner wants a reputable and knowledgeable company to come out and make sure the air conditioner unit is working right. We want to be there for our clients and make sure their property taxes are fair and equitable.”
How did you end up in the real estate tax business?
During college, I thought I wanted to become a lawyer. My father is a real estate lawyer. When he came home at night, he would talk about real estate deals and they always sounded interesting to me. That was my introduction into the real estate business.
I spent the first part of my career in commercial real estate as a property manager and broker. I got tired of the ups and downs of real estate brokerage and answered an ad in the paper for a position with a property tax consultant group called Tenenbaum and Associates. I liked their business model because taxes never quit. As the old saying goes, there are two things that are certain, death and taxes.
When Tenenbaum sold, my partner, Steven Weber and I started PAR. We thought we could better serve the community with our own business, and for the past 25 years I’ve been doing property tax work. I didn’t become a lawyer, but I did become a litigator in appealing property taxes.
How does PAR help with property taxes?
The assessor calculates the value of a building and you pay taxes depending on that assessment. However, the owner has the right to contest that assessment by filing an appeal to the board of equalization with a hearing. Homeowners are certainly welcome to go through this process on their own. Ultimately, the owner will get better results using all the experience and strategies that we employ on their behalf.
What makes you the experts?
Being in the real estate business, I have an exceptional understanding of value — real and perceived. That was definitely a plus in understanding this business.
My partner previously worked for the St. Louis County Assessor, so he understands their modeling systems better than anybody else in the business.
We have access to all of the sales data, whether it’s for homes or businesses and also have access to the county database to understand how the assessor computed the valuation. The first step is reviewing the property tax record to look for any errors and determine how the assessor arrived at the value. More often than not, we find discrepancies.
And even though our job is to challenge the assessor’s work, we ultimately have a respectful, working relationship with the county.
Let’s talk results. How successful are you in acquiring refunds for clients?
Often, and in many assessment years, all of our clients have received refunds. In 2016, every homeowner we appealed received at least an 8 percent refund.
We often hear, ‘my neighbor’s taxes are lower than mine, why is that?’ Because it’s an imperfect system. Everyone has the right to have their property reassessed.
How do we know if they are under assessing? We do sales ratio studies by pulling up your neighbor’s house that was sold, as well as many other houses, and look at the assessed values versus the sale price to come up with the median level assessment. This year we project to help clients receive roughly a 10 percent reduction based on this appeal strategy alone.
Is the process the same for commercial?
Yes, but we are dealing with much larger tax liabilities on the commercial side.
We have clients on the commercial side that pay millions each year in taxes. On the commercial side, we review over $4 billion in assessed market value and on the residential side we review over 10,000 homes with over $1 billion in value.
What’s the ultimate goal?
We want to assure property owners that somebody is analyzing these assessments and making sure they are fair and equitable. Our work is performed on a contingent fee. Even if we are not able to save them money, the review is free and we can provide them peace of mind and at least tell them they are paying a proper amount of tax. Our hope is to put money back in taxpayer’s pockets so they can reinvest in their homes and communities.
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