Realtor Launches Reappraisal Site to Help Commercial Clients – Memphis Daily News
ERIC SMITH | The Daily News
Last month, Eric Fuhrman of Crye-Leike Commercial experienced his own version of March Madness. During the first week of the month, Fuhrman’s commercial real estate clients began calling him about their property reappraisals, which were arriving in the mail.
One client told Fuhrman his property had increased 35 percent. Another called with a similarly scary tale of a skyrocketing property appraisal. And then another.
As Fuhrman dealt with each client’s need, he also realized there was an opportunity to help any commercial property owner by providing real time values on comparable sales. So he spent the past few weeks creating a Web site, MemphisComps, www.memphiscomps.com, which launched at the end of March.
Fuhrman’s site gives property owners an opportunity to access market data that could determine the accuracy of the Shelby County Assessor of Property’s reappraisal – if it’s in ballpark or unfairly inflated. (The assessor will certify the tax rolls by April 20.)
“None of us has the ability, at least right now, to see what the assessor used to compile the information and complete every appraisal,” Fuhrman said. “I at least wanted to put the tools in the hands of the commercial property owners so they had access to it and we could help them.”
Shortcut to savings
For $200, anyone can visit www.memphiscomps.com and request a detailed report about their property. Within 24 to 48 hours, Fuhrman and other brokers at Crye-Leike Commercial will research comparable property sales and other data and send a commercial market analysis.
Clients can then use that analysis to decide if an informal review or formal appeal are in order.
“Commercial property owners are short on time, and money is not just hanging off every tree right now,” Fuhrman said. “They can go a longer route and a more expensive route, and that is a full appraisal. But that’s two to three weeks, and that’s $2,000 to $3,000.
“The assessor certainly will welcome that and will use that to digest for the informal review. But the faster and also accepted way to go is a commercial market analysis.”
As Fuhrman noted, the assessor’s office is open to challenges to its reappraised values, but “you have to have the data,” he said. “Even if the results come back to substantiate the appraisal, at least they have the data. And they can rely on the fact that it’s coming from someone who lives and breathes commercial real estate every day.”
A successful appeal could reduce the property owner’s tax burden, so Fuhrman wants business owners to understand that keeping their appraisals in line with the market value will aid their bottom lines, an essential consideration in these trying economic times.
“It’s more important today, you may say, than at the last appraisal to contest it or at least confirm it by getting the data at your fingertips,” he said.
The concept behind Fuhrman’s Web site is similar to one offered by real estate information company Chandler Reports, which launched a site, www.shelbytaxappeal.com, that allows residential property owners to appeal their reappraisals through a $49 kit.
Beyond number crunching
Dan Whipple, president of Crye-Leike Commercial, said this process is needed now more than ever in light of the decline in real estate values over the past four or five months. That’s where accurate comps come in so handy.
“An individual owner of a commercial property needs good comps to know what he’s talking about, otherwise he won’t get much progress (in an appeal),” Whipple said. “He’s got to know what he’s talking about in comparable sales to his property.”
Whipple noted that there are bound to be skewed appraisals because of the sheer volume the assessor’s office has to deal with. And while those values might hold true next year when the market rebounds, they could be way off right now.
Another problem is the peculiarities of commercial properties. Whipple said one of his clients owns a two-story condominium building. Each floor was appraised at the same price – significant increases from the last appraisal.
But that the same amount raised a red flag in Whipple’s mind.
“Well, the building doesn’t have an elevator. That automatically means the second floor is not worth what the first floor is worth,” Whipple said. “The appraisal people are not aware of those kinds of things. There can be a lot of things that could impact it that they may not even be aware of when they’re plugging in their numbers in the computers. They can’t have all the data.”