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It's Time to Protest your Property Taxes

Dated: 04/29/2020

Views: 721

Today's the day...

It’s just you against them. You’re mentally prepared, calm and focused. Your evidence is in hand and you’re ready to go. Good thing...because your name just got called.  It’s showtime!

The purpose of this article is to give you some perspective on a proper approach to a successful protest. Too many property owners go in without a plan.

Why We Fight

Protesting your property value should be maintained every year whether it moves up or down.

While you may not save a fortune in any given year with a successful protest, you should always protest your property’s value. With a yearly effort you could end up saving several hundred to several thousand dollars in property taxes over time.

It’s just a hunch, but I’ll bet you could find a more effective use for your money. 

Most Common Misconceptions

First and foremost, you should understand that when negotiating with an appraiser at the appraisal district, you're protesting your property value, not your property taxes!

If your strategy for winning the protest is to give the appraiser a sob story about how the ever increasing taxes are a huge burden, your story will fall upon deaf ears.
The appraisal district has absolutely no control over your taxes; they simply determine property value.  
I can not stress enough the ineffectiveness of this argument- Please don’t use it.

Another common misconception is that protesting your property value will hurt your resale value, this is not true. I actually witnessed a property owner protest on the basis that his property value was too low!! He wanted the appraiser to raise the value so he could sell his home at a higher price. The appraisal district’s value is the “tax assessed” value of your home. 

And your tax assessed value is not indicative of your true market value. 

Here’s another tip: Your purchase price from five year ago is no longer valid.  Each year stands on its own and the comparable sales will affect your property tax value. The apprasial district uses last years sales to determine current tax value. 

Finally, the appraisal district will not retaliate if you protest, it's your right to protest.

Here are the steps for a Texas Property Tax Appeal

Read Your Assessment Letter

When your new assessment comes in the mail, it will list information about your property, such as lot size or a legal description, as well as the assessed value of your house and land. Make sure all the imformation is correct.

You can also look up your property... Here's the link for my area, Denton County

*On the main page, enter your address and you’ll be directed to your properties detail page. 

Search for your county... appraisal district in your county 

Check the Data

Make sure the information about your home is correct. Is the number of bathrooms accurate? Number of fireplaces? How about the size of the lot? There’s a big difference between “0.3 acres” and “3.0 acres.” If any facts are wrong, then you may have a quick and easy challenge on your hands.

Scroll down to "Real Estate Sales" to search for comparable sales. Select sold properties that match your home as closely as possible... number of bedrooms, sqft, age, lot size, ect.

And remember, you're looking for last years sales. Denton County will allow current year sales in some cases but last year sales are always better.

Get the Comps

If you have a REALTOR® who is willing to help you with your evidence gathering, you may want to ask them to send 3-5 of the SOLD properties you find in the Real Estate Sales section. 

If you live in Denton or Tarrant county and need help selecting sold properties, you can call me.

817-808-8582

Once you identify comps, check the assessments on those properties.  If the assessments on your comps are lower, you can argue yours is too high. If the assessments are similar, maybe you can show that the comparable properties are superior to yours and find relief based on equity. For example, maybe your neighbor built an addition or added a pool.  If you think your home’s assessment is higher than it should be, challenge it immediately. 

The deadline to file a protest is May 15th or 30 days after the notice of your assessed value is mailed to you, whichever is later. 

Procedures are outlined in the letter.

Present your Case

There are four ways to file a protest this year (2020), once you receive your Notice:

          1.  eFile at www.dentoncad.com/efile (quickest and most efficient way).

          2.) Email your protest form to protest@dentoncad.com.

          3.) Mail your protest form to PO Box 50747, Denton, TX 76206.

          4.) Place your protest form in the drop box at 3911 Morse St, Denton. 

You can download a form here - form to file a Texas Property Tax Appeal .  

In the case of a typical residential property, selecting both over market value and unequal appraisal will allow you to present the widest types of evidence and preserve your full appeal rights. 

Protest annually to minimize your property taxes.

Check out Denton County FAQ

The Informal Hearing

After filing a protest you'll be notified of a date and time to attend an informal hearing. This meeting is conducted with a staff appraiser at the appraisal district office. It will typically last about 15 minutes.  The appraiser will either make an adjustment, or offer to settle by establishing a lower assessment.

In Texas, most residential property tax appeals are resolved at the informal hearing.

Appraisal Review Board Hearing

This is sometimes called a formal or ARB hearing. Participants include three members of the appraisal review board, a staff appraiser from the appraisal district, a hearing clerk (in some counties) and the property owner or their agent.

Each party will separately present the evidence to support their opinion of the market value and unequal appraisal for the subject property.

Have your evidence printed, as the board members will not accept anything on your phone or computer. I recommend taking extra copies to handout as well. Be prepared to make a clear case and don't leave out any details, you only have one chance to present your case.

When everyone has presented, the board members will announce a decision, which is not subject to negotiation. However, if you do not agree, the decision can be appealed in a Texas district court. You would need to file a lawsuit against the county appraisal district to further appeal the property taxes.

Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

Pictures are worth a thousand words!

Take pictures of any disrepair on your property and of any “negative influences” surrounding your property. Qualified negative influences could be busy streets, water tower or electric lines looming over your house, sewer plant nearby or commercial property bordering your residential area, etc.

Note: Your noisy neighbor’s junked out car and overgrown grass probably will not qualify.

Google Earth is a wonderful thing.  Print a satellite view of your property and the surrounding area. Most of the time you can find something negative to talk about on the image.

MLS Sales – The MLS contains years of vital information compiled by real estate agents, the pictures and agent’s descriptions will help compare your home to sold properties. Comparing the properties will help support your adjustment.

Have your opinion of value ready when you meet with the appraiser and support that value with the evidence you've prepared. Saying you want a lower value without actually knowing what that lower value should be will not help your case.  

Appraisers respect property owners with an opinion of value. 

Stick to the Facts!

Appraisers will sit with 20-40 property owners every single day. Limit your stories and stick with the evidence. The appraiser will appreciate it and will hopefully return the love in the form of a value reduction.

I hope this article has shed some light on how you can protest your property value in an effective manner and with a solid case.  

There is definitely a human element involved when negotiating a reduction, so remember angering the appraiser is no way to get what you want. Stick to the hard evidence, remove all emotion and personal feelings, and you will greatly increase your odds of saving yourself some money.

Good luck!

Valuing Property

Comptroller Video - Homeowners Guide to Protest

More Property Tax Videos

Tips to understanding your statement and filing a protest

Information for New Homeowners

Proprty Owner Notice of Protest

Property Owner Tax Code

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Sandy Bolinger

If you’re looking for a North Texas real estate agent to help you negotiate the details of buying or selling a home, look no further than Sandy Bolinger - Bolinger Realty Group. As a knowledgeable ....

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