As the 2014 tax appeal season nears its conclusion, and as the 2015 tax appeal season is ready to begin, we look back at another great year. In 2014, while we reduced the number of tax appeal clients we agreed to represent, we still saved our clients over $3,000,000 in assessments, including a $700,000 reduction in the assessment of one commercial property.
In Monmouth and Ocean Counties, the Hurricane Sandy related tax appeals will soon be dwindling, due to the long-awaited restoration of most of the storm affected properties. Excessive equalization ratios, which were once a major problem for assessors have been mostly cured. Only Allenhurst, Brielle, Keyport, Englishtown, and Farmingdale remained in 2014 with equalization ratios that were substantially over 100%. For the 2015 tax year, Allenhurst is no longer on that list. In Ocean County, Beachwood, Lacey, Little Egg Harbor and South Toms River will continue to have disproportionately high equalization ratios in 2015.
While all municipalities have some properties that are over-assessed, the massive quantities of appeals that were necessitated by an entire town being over-assessed are no longer a major concern in most Monmouth and Ocean County towns. Perhaps part of the reason for the drop in equalization ratios can be correlated to the gradual upturn in the real estate market. According to Zillow, New Jersey real estate values have increased this year (August of 2013 through July of 2014) by 5.5%. Nevertheless, there are still several over-assessed properties and the owners of those properties are paying substantially more than their fair share of real estate taxes. During the past tax year, we obtained property tax reductions for more than 75% of our tax appeal clients.
While equalization ratios are no longer an issue in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, they remain the source of a major problem in Cape May County. Out of all the counties in New Jersey, Cape May remains the only county where nearly all of the towns are over-assessed. Lower Township, Dennis Township, Wildwood, Sea Isle City, Stone Harbor, Upper Township and Woodbine all have equalization ratios that are far in excess of 100%.
As a reminder for our clients with over-assessed properties, the date of valuation that the assessor must rely upon is October 1. This means that for the 2015 tax year, your property will be assessed at what the assessor believes that it is worth today. The deadline to file a tax appeal remains April 1 of 2015 in all counties except in Monmouth County, where the deadline to file has been changed to January 15, 2015. Monmouth County tax appeals may be filed at any time between November 15 and January 15. In the remainder of counties, tax appeals may be filed between February 1 and April 1. In order to ensure that our appraisers will have adequate time to handle all of our appeals, our office is accepting tax appeals for the 2015 tax year starting October 1 and we will continue to accept appeals until one week before the filing deadline.