How can new home owner handle re-assessed property tax applied to the time period before the purchase due to the mistake of prior owner?

Asked by Greg Yang, Tacoma, WA Tue Jun 19, 2012

The prior owner made a mistake. She didn't update her financial info with county. So, after the midyear purchase, county found out the prior owner had lost her senior exempt status since the beginning of the year and re-assessed property tax. According to my contract, I have become responsible for any reassessment. That means I need to pay the difference for the first half of the year. This fact went undetected during the purchasing process. I want to know if the title had defect, or what can I do? Thank you very much.

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Kary Krismer’s answer
Kary Krismer, Agent, Renton, WA
Wed Jun 20, 2012
Interesting question. If the escrow cannot help, and/or the seller won't just agree to pay, then it's time to contact a real estate attorney to determine your rights.

Before going too far though you better consider whether you can force the seller to pay even with a court judgment (presumably small claims court). If their financial situation isn't good (e.g. this was a short sale) and/or all of their income is exempt (e.g. social security), collecting might be difficult or impossible and any time and money you spend will be wasted. On the other hand, if the real estate attorney has some way of keeping the county from reassessing after the sale, that would avoid the collection problem.
0 votes
Thank you for your great insight! I do appreciate.
Flag Sun Jul 29, 2012
Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Tue Jun 19, 2012
I would call the Escrow company tomorrow morning first thing. They are responsible to inquire and verify all the facts of the previous owner’s situation. They are your allies in this right now and the best place to start.
0 votes
Greg, Thanks for the reply and the award. How did things turnout?
Flag Sun Jul 29, 2012
Thank you so much! Dan
Flag Sun Jul 29, 2012
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