The Importance of Relationships in Property Tax Consulting
Armed with a degree from the University of Georgia and five years of experience working for an assessor’s office and a property tax appraisal contractor, in 1980 I jumped the fence to the other side (some would say the “dark side”) and went to work for a national property tax consulting firm in Dallas. My new boss informed me that my assigned area of responsibility was the “Highway 80 Route,” which meant everything from Fort Worth to Albuquerque, between the Red River and the Rio Grande.
As I soon headed out the door on my first solo road trip, I asked if he had any advice. “Woolard,” he said, “all you need to be a success in this business is the ability to buy a chicken-fried steak and a bottle of Jack.” While, fortunately, that specific advice no longer applies, the fact of the matter is the property tax consulting business has always been a relationship business.
The only difference between 1980 and now is, instead of a chicken-fried steak and a bottle of Jack, success in this business is the result of building trust based on long-term experience, industry-specific knowledge, valuation concept expertise, and detailed, comprehensive analysis. Combine these factors with the ability and insight to relate to and respect the assessor’s perspective (preferably face-to-face) and find some “common ground” that works for both the client and the assessor.
Due to the fact that we work exclusively for industrial/complex properties such as marine transportation, the newspaper industry, utility-scale solar, advanced technology manufacturing, oilfield services, and OCTG processing, the issues we routinely address, particularly quantifying abnormal functional and economic obsolescence, are subjective. As such, a long-term professional business relationship with the assessor can often “swing the pendulum” in our client’s favor.
The bottom line is because the property tax consulting business is fundamentally adversarial, with each party representing opposing perspectives, experience and technical valuation expertise is of limited value if you can’t relate to, respect, and get along with the tax assessor sitting across the table. Certain business practices change over the years, but mutual trust is the foundation of all successful business relationships – that never changes.
If you feel you may not be addressing all opportunities for property tax savings, contact us for a risk-free analysis and situational assessment.