Disputing Tax Appraisals: What You Need To Know

Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Writing | No Comments

As a property owner, one thing’s for certain: opening the mailbox in April or May, you can count on receiving a property tax notice from your county’s appraisal district.

This notice is issued to give you an estimate of property tax owed to the county by the end of the year for all property owned. While these property tax estimates seem to be creeping up—or sometimes drastically jumping up—for many property owners, they trigger the yearly consideration of, “Oh, what do we do now.”  That’s where a conversation with a Stanberry & Associates Real Estate agent comes in.

What Drives Property Tax Estimates

The yearly property tax estimate is determined by the county’s appraisal office based on two factors: the community’s property tax rate and the county’s appraised value of the property.  The communities and is non-negotiable for the tax year.

Why is the County’s Appraisal Value Different from My Initial Appraisal At Property Purchase?

The county’s appraised value of the property is unlike the appraisal you encountered when working with a realtor when you first purchased the property.  The appraisal at purchase is a single fee appraisal specific to the property at the time of purchase. For tax purposes, the appraisal district usually uses a mass appraisal technique spanning the entire county, appraising market areas, neighborhoods, subdivisions, and large groupings of similar properties all at one time.

How Can a Stanberry & Associates Realtor Assist Me With the Property Tax Process?

First, the realtor can help you verify that the notice you have received reflects accurate information including that the appraisal is for the correct property including lot size and legal description.

Second, confirm that the appropriate exemptions are reflected in your tax notice including exemptions such as Homestead and Over 65.

Next, the realtor will discuss with you factors in your control. You cannot make any changes to your community’s tax rate. However, your realtor is a professional who can appropriately assist you in determining whether the county’s appraised value of your property is too low, too high, or within an acceptable range. The realtor will provide a comparable market analysis. In this analysis, you can expect to receive information that provides a real-time comparison of recent sales for a similar property including size, location, age, and construction.  This comparable market analysis provides essential documentation needed if the property owner decides to dispute property value with the appraisal district board.  The COUNTY’S APPRAISED VALUE CAN BE DISPUTED BY THE PROPERTY OWNER THROUGH A PROTEST HEARING.

What if the County Appraises My Property Too Low?

If you are looking to sell property in the near future, you would want your assessed property value to be on par so that you receive fair market value for your property at the time of sale.

What if the County Appraises My Property Too High?

Even if your community’s tax rate is rather low, a property that is appraised too high causes a property tax increase, becoming the property owner’s burden.

How Do I Begin A Protest Hearing?

Protests must be submitted to the county’s appraisal district in writing. Any format is acceptable. The communication should identify the property owner and property address.  It should also state that the owner disagrees with the county’s appraised value of the property.

Is There An On-Line Protest Option?

Most counties offer an on-line protest option. The benefit of this option is that appraisal district staffers can immediately consider your protest, sometimes offering a settlement without your attending a hearing.

The following are county appraisal district websites where you can find on-line protest options

Bastrop County: bastropcad.org and click on “File an On-line Protest”             

Hays County: hayscad.com

Travis County:  traviscad.org and click on “E-File”

Williamson County: wcad.org and click on “Online Protests”

Make sure you check the appropriate box on the form. This determines what kind of evidence you can present later in a protest hearing. If you believe your assessed value is incorrect, make sure you mark “Value is unequal to compared with other properties.”

How  Can a Stanberry & Associates Realtor Assist Me in Preparing for the Protest Hearing?

Know that the protest hearing process can be slow. It can often take several months before the appraisal district schedules an informal hearing. In the meantime, if you are disputing the value of your property, work with your Stanberry realtor making certain you have sufficient and appropriate evidence to provide at the hearing. The following evidence is suggested:

Comparable Market Analysis: This report should have been compiled by your realtor prior to your disputing the county’s assessed value of your property.

Documentation of Property’s Condition: Your Stanberry & Associates realtor can suggest a home inspection vendor or other vendors help you identify key property concerns that could adversely affect your property valuation including such things as foundation issues. Also, remember to take photos and bring them to the hearing.

Documentation of Property’s Location: A community’s growth in your general property area affects your property value. Let your Stanberry & Associate realtor research growth in your area and discuss how that growth affects your property value. Together, compile evidence to present at the hearing.

Closing Statement, Recent Appraisals, Engineer’s Report: If you recently purchased your property, let your Stanberry & Associates realtor help you gather documents that could be presented at the hearing that would especially show a discrepancy in the county’s appraised value.

What is an Appraisal District Board or Appraisal Review Board?

The Appraisal District Board or the Appraisal Review Board, ARB, are one in the same. The ARB is comprised of citizens who hear the property owner protests. The board has the power to order the appraisal district to make changes. The ARB has option including granting your request, referring you to a hearing of the entire board, scheduling a physical inspection of your property, or denying your request. If you are denied, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the appraisal district.

The appraisal district is responsible for setting the appraised value; they have nothing to do with the tax rate.

Bring extra copies of your supporting documentation to leave with the ARB.

How Else Can a Stanberry & Associates Realtor Assist Me?

Have that “Oh-what-am-I-going-to-do-now” conversation with your Stanberry & Associates realtor. If the ARB has denied your protest and you’ve decided your property tax is more than what you want to incur,  or if your property valuation shows an attractive increase and a possibility of money to be made on your property, a Stanberry & Associates realtor can talk you through the process of possibly putting your property on the market. Sometimes these talks can be emotional and difficult. You will find our realtors to be personable, professional, and ethical.