Essential Property Tax Preparation
Appraisal Districts have a lot more information about your property than they did even five years ago.
As a result, to get a reduction of your appraised value, you need to be prepared for your hearings.
There are many arguments you can make to the panel, but they will only be successful if you have data to support those arguments.
As we discussed last week, we are entering property tax season here in Texas. Its always an exciting and often frustrating time. While we wait for the appraisal districts to release this year’s appraised values (some – like Harris County – have already released its values), we want to talk about how to get ready for your hearings. Its extremely important to be prepared – but how do we do that? That’s what we address in this week’s blog entry.
Appraisal Districts have Extensive Information
We’ve talked about this previously, but if you want to get a reduction in the appraised value at your property, you have got to be prepared. That’s primarily because in the last 5-10 years, the appraisal districts have gotten a lot more purchase and debt information about private properties.
While Texas is a non-disclosure state, the appraisal districts have a lot of people working on researching property information. That includes reviewing property records for deeds and deeds of trust, conducting in person appraisals, and scouring private online portals like CoStar. They often misinterpret this data but they use it to much more aggressively set high appraised values. As a property owner, you need to be just as aggressive and prepared for your hearings.
What You Need to do to Be Prepared
This is likely to be a rough year for property owners in Texas. The market may be rising and, as explained above, the appraisal districts have a lot more information. We expect, therefore, that the appraisal districts are going to significantly increase the appraised values of most properties. It is possible to get these values lowered – but you have to come to the hearings prepared.
Its vital, therefore, that you are ready with analysis when you go to your informal or formal hearings. You should start preparing for your hearing as soon as possible. Your preparation should include the following:
Protest Market Value - You must make sure that you protest the market value of your property. One of your arguments to the board will be that the appraisal district has improperly appraised the market value, so when filing your protest, make sure you check the box to protest market value.
Protest Equal and Uniform – In addition to market value, you must also protest that your property was not assessed on an equal and uniform basis to similarly situated properties. The Texas constitution requires equal and uniform taxation of similar properties. If the appraisal districts do not adhere to this requirement, you may be able to get your values lowered.
Have data – The only way to get your assessed value lowered at a hearing is to show the panel supporting analysis that is backed by data. For income producing properties, that includes financials, rent rolls, etc. For partially completed properties, that may include cost of construction.
Other supporting data – Besides the financial data, you can also get your appraised value lowered by showing that there is significant damage or restrictions on the property. For example, if you have large easements or heritage trees, that can limit what you can do with the property and thus reduce its value. To convince the Board, you should start gathering pictures, invoices, surveys, recorded docs, etc.
COVID damage – Many income producing properties were severely affected by COVID. Like with other areas of your analysis, you can get a reduction in your appraised value due to the decrease in income. But you need to bring data to support the reduction.
Support for Exemption – Finally Last week we talked about getting a potential exemption from property taxes as a result of damage from the winter storm. To be successful, you will need to provide specific evidence to the board explaining what the damage is and how it reduced the value of your property.
Any Texas property owner knows that high property taxes can ruin an investment. Protesting these high values, therefore, is critical. To be successful in your protest, you need to be prepared and bring data.
If you have any questions on how to effectively fight the appraisal district, please give Bukowski Law Firm a call at 512-614-0335.