How to Challenge Your Property Tax Assessment
Homeowners have seen an increase in value over the last two years that most of us are very excited about…However, when those tax assessment bills come in, it’s less exciting. Remember, one of most important rights as a taxpayer is the opportunity to protest your taxes.
You can do this yourself or hire a company to represent you to the Appraisal Review Board (ARB). Before you do either, make sure you are knowledgeable about the process and systems in order to be successful.
First ~ Review Your Assessment Carefully
Whether you’re a new homeowner or not, you should carefully look at your assessment each year to look out for mistakes.
This is why you are receiving a copy of your bill even if your mortgage lender is actually the one paying it—YOU, as the homeowner, are actually responsible for any mistakes.
So, when you receive this copy, take the time to make sure everything is accurate before your lender pays it.
Depending on home prices in your area, it could be an accurate reflection of your current home’s value. Or, maybe not.
It’s up to YOU to find out since most local governments aren’t in any rush to reduce tax revenue on their own.
In Texas, you have a limited time to appeal. According to the Texas Comptroller’s website, “you have until May 15 or 30 days from the date the appraisal district notice is delivered – whichever date is later.” Deadlines are very strict and must be met.
Second ~ Must-Do Steps for the Appeals Process
Here are four steps you need to take to see if you should appeal your assessment.
1. Do Some Research
- Records are kept at your tax assessor’s office and can be seen any time to find out what your assessment value is for your property.
- Assessors use either replacement value or comparable sales prices to determine a home’s fair market value, which is considered the estimated price a home would fetch on the open market.
- Depending on the jurisdiction, the assessed value can be the full market value or a percentage of the market value (an assessment ratio). Check out this information from the Texas Comptroller about valuing properties.
- Homes aren’t always appraised every year but the assessor may apply average price increases from recent sales to adjust values for an entire area until the next full re-evaluation, which could be every 3, 7, 10 years or only when the property changes hands.
- Find out when the last full appraisal was in your area and how the value has been calculated since then. The longer the time has been since the last full appraisal, the more likely that the assessment value is off.
2. Correct Errors
- Make sure the description of your home is accurate. Verify the lot size, the number and type of rooms, and the square footage. This is very important, so look closely.
- Look for mistakes, such as a half-bath recorded as full bath or a screened-porch that’s included in your year-round living space. It happens more than you think, so double check.
- In Harris County, there is a homestead deduction if you are an owner-occupant of your home. Make sure your bill says you are receiving this deduction if you qualify and take immediate steps to correct this if you should be receiving it and your bill does not say this.
3. Compare to Other Homes
- Look at public records at the assessor’s office to see how your home stacks up to comparable homes in the neighborhood. “Comparable” means homes of the same size, age, and general location. For example, homes near a busy road are valued less than those next to a quiet park or wooded area.
- Hire a realtor or an appraiser if you can’t do the legwork yourself.
- Determine if your tax savings warrants a challenge … in my opinion, it’s always worth a try!
4. Seek the Appeal
- Visit these websites for detailed information:
Don’t feel like you have to do this on your own, please reach out to me! I can recommend several helpful connections to make sure you are not navigating this process on your own.
I'm Jennifer Mestayer (Med-E-A) and I love helping Cypress families buy and sell their
homes as they move through the varying stages of life. From first homes to forever homes...
Let me know how I can help you make your real estate dreams come true.
Cy-Fair Real Estate
16718 House & Haul Rd, St N
Cypress, TX 77433
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