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Property Tax Appeals Go Technological

by Peter Thomas Ricci

A new tech company is looking to apply the benefits of “Big Data” to property tax appeals.

TurboAppeal

From the mortgage process, to the MLS apparatus, to the growing prominence of syndication sites and private research firms, “big data” has revolutionized real estate considerably, and now, Chicagoland entrepreneur Badal Shah is looking to overhaul an entirely new area of the industry – property taxes.

Shah is the CEO of TurboAppeal, a company that, as he describes it, brings a “data-driven, evidence-based service to appealing property taxes.” Using a highly sophisticated data mining system that Shah and his team of engineers spent 18 months building from the ground up, TurboAppeal utilizes public data and subscription-based sources to analyze the square footage, market value and other characteristics of more than 2.1 million parcels of property in Cook County; then, armed with that data, TurboAppeal files an official property tax appeal with the Cook County Assessor when the specific township opens for appeals.

The inspiration for the company, Shah explains, came from his own tax appeal headaches. A resident of Barrington Hills, Shah knew that his 2013 property tax bill was too high. Yet, after going through a traditional appeal process, which involved attorney fees and information that was not representative of his property, Shah walked away frustrated and with no savings on his property tax bill – though he did see an area of real estate in need of big data’s embrace.

Since launching in January, more than 3,000 people have enlisted TurboAppeal’s services. There is no upfront fee to sign up; instead, TurboAppeal will collect a percentage of the homeowner’s first year of savings on their property taxes, assuming that the company’s data-driven appeal results in savings for the homeowner. For single-family homes, Shah says, TurboAppeal collects 30 percent of first-year savings, while for condos, the percentage depends on the association’s rules, and can range from 10 to 15 percent.

Currently, TurboAppeal only covers property in Cook County, but Shah says the company is planning on launching its services for the Lake, DuPage, Kane and Will Counties in 2016. And in their latest project, TurboAppeal has rolled out a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform for legal professionals, which helps them enhance their residential property tax appeal business.

“Our whole process,” Shah says, “is being highly intelligent with real estate data.”

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