7 Steps to Appeal Your Property Taxes

Recently, GoodLife Realty helped our customers, clients and friends in Travis county and the City of Austin reduce their tax appraisal values of their homes over $2 million cumulatively — collectively saving them over $50,812 in real estate taxes! “I encourage everyone to appeal their taxes. When people don’t appeal, the taxing authority accepts that their value is correct. This affects all homeowners in a given area.” says Krisstina Wise, CEO GoodLife Companies.

For that reason, we help people negotiate their home values. We want to do our part in helping to keep our real estate taxes in line with market value.

To ensure that you have the very best opportunity to obtain a reduction in your home currently assessed value, you’ll want to adhere to our "Top 7 Critical Tips" below:

1. File your protest on the deadline date, not before

     >You will want to schedule your hearing for late July. And, filing on the deadline date will allow you to be scheduled late in the hearing process.

2. Request the full evidence packet and field card from your district

     >You will want to see all the evidence that the Assessor has about your home valuation. This will allow you to build a stronger defense for your case.

3. Protest both market value and equity. Note: there are two boxes to check on your form.

4. Schedule informal hearing in late July or August

     >This is akin to buying a car on the last day of the month: salespeople and dealerships have quotas to meet…as does the Tax Assessor! You will likely           get a better ruling if the Assessor has deadlines to meet.

5. Get good help and evidence (data) to make your case

     >The Assessor’s office works on hard facts: These include neighborhood statistics, sales trends, property condition and location. You will need                          professionally-obtained and assessed data to build a strong case.

6. Document all needed home repairs/updates with photos (and bids if possible)

     >When you can prove that your home is sub-standard for the neighborhood and is in need of updates to be truly comparable to your neighbors’                    homes, you will have a better shot at contesting the current assessed value of your home.

7. Be curious, courteous and professional at the informal hearing

     >Assessors deal with angry, incompetent, aggressive and belligerent people all day long. If you treat them like professional humans and present your           facts in a courteous and kind manner, the Assessor will hopefully react in kind…and, you are more likely to get what you want!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why is Travis County tax-assessed value different than market value?

The tax-assessed value is what your county believes your home or condo is worth. The county attempts to set their values at a "market value". However, they do not evaluate “comparable" nor do they perform individual market analyses on every home. The county simply values your home according to your area not your house. Meaning, the value may be too high or two low, depending on the size, location, amenities and condition of your specific home.

When should I receive my TCAD property valuation/assessment and how long do I have to appeal?

The current years notices of appraised value are typically mailed out mid-April of each year. You generally have 30 days to appeal. You should file your written protest by May 31 or no later than 30 days after the appraisal district mailed you a notice of appraised value, whichever is later.

Check out the Property Tax Calendar to ensure you have all key dates available.

Should I appeal my Travis County property valuation?

If the market value on your Travis county home is lower than your tax-assessed value then you should appeal. If the market value is higher, do nothing. How do you determine your market value? Use the form (on the right) to request an evaluation of your home using real-time data from the Austin MLS. This tool is easy to use and we stand ready to answer any questions you may have regarding the data.

How do I appeal for Travis County/City of Austin?

Travis County has a protest form. However, you can type up or handwrite your protest and fax or mail it in. If you are going to write up your protest, be sure to include the following:

 > Identify yourself as the homeowner

 > Include the property address

 > Indicate that you are dissatisfied with the decision made by the appraisal district

 > Request the evidence packet for how they came up with your valuation – these are the comparable sales that Assessors are using for valuation                    purposes.

Prepare to Wait After you have filed, it can take up to a couple months for the Travis County Appraisal District to schedule your informal hearing.

Prepare to Present to TCAD The purpose of the informal hearing is for you to present your evidence and facts to support your claim that they have over-valued your Austin home or condo. We suggestion the following as valuable evidence to compile for your hearing:

Comparable Market Analysis A comparable market analysis looks at Market Value and shows recent sales for homes that are similar to yours in size, age, location and type of construction. The Market Analysis that we provide you with may provide enough evidence to support your informal hearing. However, we also stand ready to provide you with a more in-depth market analysis prior to your hearing.

Documentation Regarding Your Home's Condition Do you have foundation issues? Plumbing problems? Anything that would adversely affect the Market Value of your home should be documented. Take photgraphs and bring them with you to your hearing.

Documentation Regarding Your Home's Location Once again, anything that would adversely affect the Market Value of your home is evidence that you can use in your appeal. If your home backs up to a busy street, consider printing off a Google map to document your location.

Recently Purchased Homes If you purchased your home in the last several months and the purchase price was lower than your appraised value, bring a copy of your settlement statement.

Present Your Evidence There are a couple of things to keep in mind for the day of your hearing:

 1. The Appraisal District is responsible for setting appraised value. They have nothing to do with the tax rate. You are not going to the hearing to protest        your tax rate or how much you are paying in taxes. You are only appealing the county's assessed value of your home.

 2. Be polite and courteous.

 3. Bring an extra copy of your supporting documentation to leave with the county.

If you found this article valuable or have any further questions, please let us know. We will get back to you right away. And, if you successfully appeal your appraised value, we want to hear about that too!

For more information on the process, contact the Travis Central Appraisal District at 512.834.9138 or visit their website at http://www.traviscad.org/.