How does mass appraisal work?
Annually, the appraisal district sets residential values at what is called “replacement cost”. This number is an estimate of what it would cost to replace the home. They then identify properties by groups (sometimes by school district, subdivision, etc.). Homes that recently sold from within the group will be reviewed to establish a relationship between the “cost” estimate and the actual sale price. If the sale prices from within a group are consistently higher than their cost estimates, a positive “market factor” will be applied to all cost estimates within that group, raising the proposed notice values. The opposite may also be true, in which case the negative market factor will lower the proposed notice values, because the known sale prices were below their associated cost estimates. Depending on the relationship between the cost estimates and the sales data in the associated group, the market factor may either be positive, negative, or flat.
Property values can only go up so much each year, right?
Property values can go up as much as the Appraisal District feels is logical and defendable. The market value for every property has no limit to how much it can increase. For homesteaded properties, the amount that you can be taxed on is limited to a 10% increase each year.
Why should I hire an agent to fight my property taxes?
For the same reason you hire an accountant or attorney – you want a professional who has intimate knowledge of tax laws, appraisal district procedures, and staff.
How does Texas Protax stack up to its competition?
Texas Protax Austin is the largest and most successful Property Tax Consultant firm in Central Texas & the Houston area. Property tax representation is not just a portion of our business model, it’s all we do.
We have access to Travis CAD and Williamson CAD’s up-to-date databases as well as all of the most recent sales data. Unlike other agents, our comprehensive software not only indicates favorable sales and equity comparables, but allows us to assess the quality of the work that produced the initial notice value. Our staff boasts 262 years of combined experience from a variety of backgrounds – Attorneys, Senior Property Tax Consultants, Licensed Realtors, Fee Appraisers, and even ex-Appraisal District employees.
I received a Notice of Appraised Value in the mail, what does this mean?
Each year in April, your county Appraisal District will send out a Notice of Appraised Value for your property. This is the Appraisal District’s opinion of value. The property’s appraised value is determined based on a mass appraisal method. The Texas Tax Code allows property owners to file a protest to contest the District’s initial proposal. If you fail to file protest, the value will remain final and will be used to calculate the taxes due for the current year. Notice values are also available online in April of each year at the respective District’s website.
When is the deadline to file a protest?
The deadline to file a protest is May 15th or 30 days after the Notice of Appraised Value is printed – whichever is later. If the date on your NOAV is after April 15th, you have an extended deadline. Additionally, if May 15th falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline falls on the next business day.
What if I want to sell my property – won’t lowering the appraised value mean that I can’t sell the property for as much?
Lowering your appraised value won’t affect your sale price – most buyers are going to have an independent appraisal done on the property. They will find out about any issues with the property whether they are reported to the Appraisal District or not. A lower value at the Appraisal District would actually be a selling point because it means the buyer pays less in taxes at closing!
How much does your service cost?
Our fee is a percent of tax savings so you don’t pay us unless we save you money! It is risk free and there are no hidden fees. Our services and fee structure have been the same since 1988.
I believe my value is already conservative, why should I appeal?
Your property value may not be equitable with similar properties. Inequality is often a basis for a reduction.
I didn’t do anything to my property – why is the value going up?
Austin’s real estate market is extremely “hot” right now with 150+ people moving to the area each day. All of these people need a place to live which has resulted in a huge spike in property values. Even if you haven’t updated in years, the demand for housing near the city could warrant an increase in your property value.
Why is my property valued higher than my neighbor’s?
Every property is different. Whether it is the square footage, additional details, condition and/or quality ratings, the Appraisal District calculates various factors which come into play when determining your property value. These details/rankings are not found on the internet, but Texas Protax has them!
The Appraisal District says my house is bigger than it is! How can I correct it?
Both fee and appraisal district measurements are determined by measuring the square footage from the outside of your house Some slight discrepancy is to be expected as fee appraisers use inch increments while appraisal district’s round to the nearest foot. Square feet calculations provided from builder’s plans do not trump appraisal sketches as they are typically calculated from interior measurements.
If there is a >5% discrepancy, it is certainly worth looking into! We recommend that you provide the blueprints, drawing plans, or a more recent appraisal sketch of the property to see if you are being taxed on more square footage than really exists.
If I appeal my taxes this year, will it affect me next year?
If your property has a Homestead Exemption, appealing one year can have a cascading effect that protects your property value for years to come. Example: Your property had a homestead exemption in 2015 and the value was reduced to $100,000. In 2016, the market value jumped up to $200,000 – you would only be taxed on a 10% increase from 2015 or $110,0000 ($100,000 + 10% = $110,000). Getting the value as low as possible in 2015 cut the 2016 tax bill almost in half!
Each tax year is separate from the previous year. There are always going to be new developments in the market from one year to the next that change the data the Appraisal District is using to evaluate your property.
When will I hear from Texas Protax?
We reach out to our clients at the beginning of each year with our “Request for Information” form which allows you the opportunity to make us aware of any new information that might affect the value of the home for the pending appeals season. Refinance appraisals, damages incurred or new improvements are typical subjects that we need to be aware of as they may influence our protest.
As of the 2016 tax season we email all clients with their completed hearing results within 24 hours as each property appeal is resolved. We do not individually telephone clients with hearing results. Should you wish to discuss the results of a hearing, Texas Protax does employ three full time licensed tax agents who serve as client communication specialists. These dedicated agents do not have an appeal docket and are available exclusively to discuss or answer specific questions regarding the content or results of an appeal. Because our other agents both start the appeal season early and are required to resolve a large daily docket they will be able to contact you at the end of the appeal season (usually October), should you wish to speak to the individual agent who handled the appeal.
Invoice and/or account summaries are usually mailed out starting in early November (after tax rates are set for the year in October).
Current clients of Texas Protax can access their accounts anytime via https://texasprotaxportal.com/Account/Login. It lists current properties we have assigned to your account, proposed values and the exemptions applied. If the hearing has been resolved for the season, you’ll also be able to see the before and after value results and eventually the associated invoices for tax savings (after the tax rates have been set).
My protest deadline already passed – is there anything that I can do?
There are options to file late protests. If it’s still early in the season (June/July) you can try writing a letter to the Chairman of the Appraisal Review Board for your county Appraisal District explaining why you missed the deadline. It is entirely up to the Chairman’s discretion whether or not to grant a hearing. This is not something that our company can do for you – a letter like this coming from an agent would immediately be dismissed.
If that doesn’t work, you can file a late protest based on a substantial overvaluation of your property. This is referred to as a 25.25d protest and you will need to prove that your property has been at least one-third over-appraised in order for the hearing to be granted at all. For example, if your property is appraised at $400,000 then you will need to prove that the value is under $300,000 in order to get any reduction at all. This protest must be filed by the tax payment deadline (January 31st) and your taxes must be paid on-time.
You can also re-open the appraisal roll for up to five tax years in order to correct a clerical error on your property.
What is a fee appraisal and how is it different from county appraisals?
A fee appraisal is usually initiated when a client decides to purchase or refinance a home. The fee appraisal is typically a current estimate of the market value (what a property would sell for) of a single property and helps inform lenders when making loan decisions. The residential fee appraisal’s conclusion is typically based on the sales comparison analysis, unlike mass appraisal’s heavy reliance on replacement cost data.
What are some important property tax deadlines I should know about?
Date of appraisal of the property for that tax year
Deadline to pay your tax bill (for tax bills received prior to January 10th)
Deadline to file for Homestead & Over 65 exemptions for the previous tax year
Last day to file Business Personal Property Renditions and property information reports
Deadline to file annual exemption applications
Deadline to file for 1-d and 1-d-1 agricultural land special appraisal
Deadline to file a protest (for Notices of Appraised Value sent out prior to April 15th)
How do I become a client?
The easiest path to hiring us is to enter your account details in to the https://texasprotaxportal.com/Prospect/FindByParcel link on our website. If we believe that we can lower your tax burden you’ll be able to complete the sign up process online. Should information arise during the process that suggests your case might involve additional issues, your application will be sent to a staff member for review and follow up via phone or email.
Should you wish to speak to staff regarding your potential case we are also available via phone, but we would ask for your patience and persistence during April, May and June. Our call volume is significant and many agents may be difficult to reach because of their hearing schedule, but we have other staff in-house who are available to chat during business hours.