By Jonnine Eras, Senior Vice President, Senior Tax Operations Manager

Tax assessments lag home price appreciation (HPA), but eventually they result in tax hikes, unpleasant surprises for homeowners and more work for servicers. Given the dramatic gains in HPA over the last two years, larger tax bills for many borrowers and higher call volumes for servicers are on the horizon.

In 2021, the average tax on single-family homes in the U.S. increased at its smallest pace in five years, rising 1.8% from $3,719 in 2020 to $3,785 last year, according to ATTOM Data.

But don’t be fooled: this is the lull before the storm.

“It’s hardly a surprise that property taxes increased in 2021, a year when home prices across the country rose by 16%,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence at ATTOM. “In fact, the real surprise is that the tax increases weren’t higher, which suggests that tax assessments are lagging rising property values, and will likely continue to go up in 2022.”

This is already beginning to happen in some of the larger metro areas, ATTOM reports. For example, the average property taxes last year were up 27% in Nashville; 18% in Milwaukee and 12.3% in Baltimore.

And that’s before this year’s record HPA, which hit 20% in April.

From a servicer’s perspective, this means more unpleasant surprises for homeowners, more in-bound calls about escrow increases and more time helping clients understand how the tax assessment process works.  

The timing, of course, couldn’t be worse. Many servicers added record volumes of new loans during the past two boom years and new staff to service those loans. But now they are facing pressures to reduce costs and headcount, given the sharp drop in overall mortgage volume.

It could be a perfect storm for mistakes, inefficiencies and disgruntled homeowners and employees.

How LERETA can help

Behind every call could be a frustrated borrower whose last resort is calling the servicer. LERETA offers an outsourced call center solution for our clients that combines cutting-edge technology with best-in-class tax processing systems to support rapid response times and exceptional customer care. Our onshore staffers have an average of 10+ years of experience, and can answer questions and resolve issues quickly.

For one large national client, our call center is answering calls, on average, in 15 seconds or less with an extremely low abandonment rate of less than 1%. The average call is 6 minutes, and 80% of issues are resolved on the first call.

Want to learn more about how LERETA’s call center solutions can help you manage the incoming wave of higher call volumes from confused and frustrated borrowers? Contact us at sales@LERETA.com