Dallas TAX Evaluaiton Protest
Andre Tejana Post about her hearing experience
Sherry Cherry’s Post about an appraisal review
Christina Yarnall’s Post about an appraisal review
Caine Langford’s Post about using a service
Tish Spaulding’s Post about using a service
How Your Texas Tax Bill Is Calculated Article
How to Check the Official Tax Record for Your Home in Texas Article
Gather Information About Whether Your Home Has Been Fairly Valued Article
by Robert Jory, Realtor
Whenever the tax appraisal notices are sent, I receive requests asking me to help by providing comparable market valuations so that people can protest their increases in evaluation.
I am more than happy to help in any way I can, but it is important to know the process and what would be considered in reducing the evaluation.
I have copied several articles and postings from our NextDoor APP which are pretty darn accurate. I would strongly advise reading them before you decide to protest. In Andre Tejana posting below, she describes her experience with an actual hearing. Everything she did is exactly what would be required for a review by appraiser instead. You can see an appraiser instead of a hearing or before your hearing. If you go before your hearing date and don’t like what they are offering, you can still go to the hearing. I suggest you schedule a hearing in any case as it is my opinion that the appraiser may make a better offer to avoid the county paying the extra expense of a hearing.
The protest deadline is May 15, or 30 days after a tax notice is delivered, whichever is later.
I protested my evaluation about 5 times on my house and condo. I have never won a protest at a hearing. They are brutal and from what I have heard from others, the review board sides with the county most of the time. However, I have gotten reductions by having a review appointment with an appraiser. Others have agreed.
Since I have owned my house in Chapel Downs since 2000, my evaluation has been adjusted every 2 years. The evaluation is based on the market value of the previous year. For example, the notices that were sent in 2019 are based on the value in 2018. Therefore, your comps should be for that year.
Should I Protest
If your house is comparable with other homes in the area, you most likely will not get a reduction. Home prices have increased dramatically in the last few years as we recovered from the recession. When prices go up, everyone’s home value goes up. If you were to sell your house today, you would probably get more than in 2010.
In my experience, reductions are given for the following reasons which I will explain in more detail below:
The listed valuation is higher than homes in the same area of the same size, type and condition
The condition of the home is improperly categorized as compared to homes in better condition.
There are major problems with your home which means your home is less valuable (see Andrea Tegana posting below)
You purchased your home within the last 18 months and the new evaluation is higher than your purchase price.
#1 The listed valuation is higher than homes in the same area of the same size, type and condition
This reason is very difficult to prove and most often fails. First, you would have to show compare your home with the same size within 100 to 200 square feet. If your home had more or fewer bedrooms or baths, adjustments would have to be made. The comparable homes would have to be in the same condition, which means you would have to prove it. This would require many photos of your home and of the comparable ones.
#2 The condition of the home is improperly categorized as compared to homes in better condition.
If your home’s condition was rated good but it is actually fair or poor, you could get a recategorization which would lower the valuation. You would have to prove this with many photos of the poor condition. This is similar to # 2 and what Andrea Tejana did.
#3 There are major problems with your house which means your house is less valuable
If there are major problems with your home, you may be able to get an evaluation based on the amount needed to correct the problem. For example, I had a lot of cracks in my home as many do. I took photos of all the cracks in the house and identified what rooms they were in. I then obtained foundation repair quotes from a couple of companies. I took the most expensive quote and photos for an appraisal review appointment and received a reduction. Major problems could be plumbing leaks, electrical, roof etc.
#4 You purchased your home within the last 18 months and the new evaluation is higher than your purchase price
I am not as certain on this reason, but this is what I have heard. When you purchase your home the value in most cases is set by the price you paid. Let’s say you paid $350,000 for your home in January 2018. Then you receive an evaluation notice for $400,000. I have head that the county should use the purchase price within 18 months as the valuation. I will check on this when I go to my interview this year.
Challenging home valuation can work! (LONG)
By Andrea Tejana, Webb Royal 7/10/18
When my letter came from the county appraisal board, I was shocked that they thought my home was much more valuable than I suspect it is in its current condition. My mother suggested that I go through the steps to appeal the tax valuation, and since the process itself is free, I decided I would.
The first thing to know is that filing the appeal can be done online. In my case, that was really my only option, since I had gotten busy and forgot about it until the day of, and I didn't have time to put everything together before the post office closed. Online, you can attach PDF files or photographs to document your claim. As I recall, there is a limit of 20 attachments. You do not have to attach everything you plan to use in the appeal hearing (goodness knows, I didn't), but if you were concerned and had more photos than 20, you might be able to use some kind of collage app so that you could put together 2-4 photos as a single image.
The website had suggested kinds of documentation, such as repair estimates for major work that needs to be done on the house, photos of serious issues, and so forth. As with nearly anything these days, you could also search online for suggestions of what to document.
Be aware that before you submit your request for appeal, you will need to have an idea how much you think the house is really worth. I tried to find houses online similar to what I thought was likely, but I ended up adjusting upwards slightly for the fact that everything I saw in the area that was selling for what I thought was the real price was at least one bedroom smaller than my house. My mother also had advised that I bear in mind a good bit of the value isn't the house itself, but the land under it, which is valuable even if the house itself might be torn down by a buyer.
Before you submit, you put down the number you think it should be instead. Next, you receive a letter telling you when your hearing is. Read it carefully, because it includes important information about what you need to bring to the hearing. There is some kind of option where you can talk to the staff ahead of time; I didn't use that option, so I have no idea how helpful it is or isn't. Certainly all the people I dealt with on the day of the hearing were extremely helpful, so I have no reason to think that talking to someone in advance would be anything but a good idea.
On the day of the hearing, you assemble whatever you plan to show them. If you are bringing physical documents or photographs, you need FOUR copies, because the hearing is attended by you, the three appeals board members, and a representative from the appraisal district. Another option, however, is to bring all your supporting materials on a thumb drive or flash drive. That is the route I chose, partly because I was short on time. Whichever method you choose, when you arrive, one of the many helpful office staff will sign you in and take the materials to scan for the record. To my delight, it turned out that the flash-drive files were available to be put on the screen during the hearing, so I could go through and explain. When it's your turn -- and even though I took a long time getting my flash drive ready once I arrived, I was not rushed, as they had so many people scheduled and could easily put somebody ahead of me -- you're guided into one of several rooms, where the four people are waiting for you.
You have a podium you can use if you like, and the board is seated in front of you, with the district appraisal representative to one side. Mine were all quite agreeable people and it was not the least bit confrontational, something I had wondered about. When you first start, they put a paper in front of you and tell you that that is all the information that the board has. Don't panic: they don't mean that your information was lost or anything, only that they start from that sheet of paper.
First you get to present whatever you brought, then the Appraisal District representative tells how your original appraisal was determined and makes any recommendations for changing it (or explains why it shouldn't be changed), after which you have an opportunity to respond briefly, followed by the board making its decision. In theory, you get 5 to 7 minutes for your presentation, which made me a little nervous, because if you haven't noticed yet, I can be a bit wordy. In actuality, they were quite patient and I'm not sure how long I took other than it definitely was more than 7 minutes.
I showed photos of all the foundation issues (big wall cracks that cross the hallway, wrong walls that are starting to fall over at the entry), all the water damage to sunroom ceiling and floors from the fact that the patio conversion by the previous owners was incredibly poorly done and lets in water around the glass doors and the windows every time it rains -- I also told them what the estimates had been for replacing that room, since everyone I've consulted from friends to professionals agrees I have to tear it out and start over the sprinkler system that suddenly last year started going off at the wrong times and not turning off if no one was home to shut it down (had they needed confirmation, I even had ready the texts from my next-door neighbor!) the place in the guest bathroom where the tile behind the faucets is coming off because of water damage behind them the aluminum garage door that got damaged years ago and has detached from the bracket such that I'm never sure it's going to go back up once I bring it down, and vice versa on a decor level, the flooring in the kitchen of uncertain vintage and obviously 1970s paneling that doesn't really go with it, plus the fake-Formica countertops and cracked 1960s bathroom tile... I explained that while I realize many neighborhood houses are valued higher thanks to major kitchen and bathroom updates, I haven't gotten to it on mine, a photo of the paper Atmos made me sign at the end of last winter when they checked my furnace and determined it had a serious leak such that I needed to promise them I wouldn't turn it back on.
After hearing my presentation, it was the turn of the representative from the appraisal district board. First, he showed how my appraisal was originally determined. I was interested to see that they make a point of not comparing to the houses in the neighborhood that are marked as being in XCELLENT or GOOD condition. Instead, unless they previously have made a determination that a house is in FAIR or POOR condition, they compared to those marked as AVERAGE. He showed three specific addresses to which mine had been compared based on square footage and condition. They were streets that contain houses externally similar to mine, and it made sense to me. Then he talked about my particular house, and how thoroughly I had documented its actual condition. He said that he would consider my house to be in FAIR or POOR condition, and I thought it was adorable that at that point he turned and was a bit apologetic about saying my house was in poor condition. That was fine by me, as I certainly didn't take it personally and was well aware that their acknowledging it was in poor condition was going to work in my favor when they reappraised it (!).
He recommended that the house be marked as being in poor condition, then pulled up the comparables they use for valuation of a house this size in that condition. The suggested new valuation was within $1,000 of what I had suggested off the top of my head when I turned in the form weeks ago... that's only 75% of the original valuation, a reduction of tens of thousands.
You can guess that when it was my opportunity to respond, I had no need for rebuttal. The board quickly agreed, and after the hearing, the representative from the appraisal district even had a suggestion for a short-term fix on my garage door issue. As for the sunroom, he said he had one suggestion for improvement: "Take a sledgehammer to it. A bare patio would add about as much to the home's value as that sunroom does." "Probably MORE," I laughed, "because as is, that sunroom would run off any potential buyer unless I knocked down the price." So there you have it, a meticulously, ridiculously detailed account of one neighborhood homeowner's experience appealing the appraisal district's valuation of her home.
Your mileage may vary, especially if you think that your home is in average condition and that they compared it to homes in average condition. But for someone whose home on paper appears far more valuable than it does when you know all the details, making an appeal is well worth what for me turned out to be fairly minimal trouble.
Sherry Cherry, West Royal Haven
I think the easiest way is to just go in without an appointment. You sign in on a list and then meet one on one instead of going before a board. I think you can still make an appointment and go before a board if you are not satisfied. You do need to go prepared as Andrea says. The closer you get to the cutoff date, the longer the wait, so go early. I have gone before the board once and it is a bit more intimidating than sitting at a desk with one person. The appraiser was arguing that my appraisal should stay high and I was trying to show why it should be lowered. I have always printed off photos. Several years back I was told they would not put anything on their computers! Guess that has changed
Christina Yarnall, Timberbrook
I did this last year and the whole process was very stressful. I found a company that will protest on your behalf, O’Connor and Associates. You can complete everything online and do not have to go to your hearing or meet with anyone in person. They saved me much more than I saved on my own last year. I would definitely recommend them.
O'Connor & Associates poconnor.com/ 972-243-9966
Caine Langford, Park Forest
I've used O'Conner and Associates for a number of years and been pleased. They charge 50% of the savings - so if your out of pocket taxes is $7000 and they save you $500 off that, then you owe $250. If they don't save you anything, you don't pay. It's cumulative, so it really adds up each year to let them fight it.
Tish Spaulding , Walnut Hill and Marsh
They just automatically reduced my home value before my scheduled formal hearing by $11,000, so I cancelled the hearing. I had uploaded all the crack pics inside and out on their website ahead of time.
By Fred S. Steingold
How Your Texas Tax Bill Is Calculated
By Fred S. Steingold
In Texas, two factors determine your tax bill: the taxable value of your home, and the tax rate (that is, the percentage of the taxable value that the local tax authorities use to compute your property tax). Here’s an overview of these factors.
The process starts when a local public official – the county tax appraiser – determines your home’s taxable value. In Texas, the taxable value of a home is 100% of its “market value” – basically, what the home would sell for on the open market. The 100% figure is also known as the assessment ratio.
The taxing authorities multiply the taxable value of your home by the tax rate to arrive at the tax you’ll owe. Let’s say the taxable value of your home is $300,000 and the tax rate is $10 for every $1,000 of taxable value. Your property tax for the year will be $3,000 (300 x $10 = $3,000).
Local officials set the tax rate, so the rate varies depending on where you live. You can’t do much about the tax rate except to vote wisely for the elected officials who determine the tax rate, and carefully consider revenue issues that appear on the ballot. But the story is different for the taxable-value factor. Here, you have more leverage. If the taxable value assigned to your home is too high, you may be able to get it reduced – and save a bundle in property tax. A $500 reduction in your annual tax bill would add up to $5,000 in savings over a ten-year period. Not bad!
Example: Larry and Joan own a home in Texas. The county tax appraiser has placed a taxable value of $400,000 on their home. The local tax rate is $10 for every $1,000 of taxable value. This means that their annual property tax is $4,000. Larry and Joan do some research and conclude that, based on recent sales of comparable homes, the taxable value of their home should be $350,000. They successfully appeal their assessment. Now, their tax bill is $3,500 a year instead of $4,000.
How to Check the Official Tax Record for Your Home in Texas
The tax record for your home may contain inaccurate or incomplete information that leads the county tax appraiser to place too high a value on it. You can get of a copy of the tax record at the tax appraiser’s office. If you’re not sure where it’s located, call city hall and inquire, or look online at the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts website, mentioned above. Also, check to see if the assessment record is available online.
The Dallas Central Appraisal website is http://www.dallascad.org/ . You can find your property by clicking on Search Appraisals and search by owner, address or account.
Review the tax record for errors. Among other things, check the following:
Is your home correctly classified as residential property?
Is the size of your home and the lot it sits on correctly stated?
Does the record accurately list the number of bedrooms and bathrooms?
Does the record list improvements that were not actually made?
Are defects in your home – such as a leaky basement or an aging roof – mentioned?
Is the age of your home accurately stated?
Is the purchase price accurate?
Does the record give you the benefit of all the tax breaks that you may qualify for – such as those that may apply based on your income, age, disability, or military service?
If there’s wrong or incomplete information, let the tax appraiser know so that the record can be corrected and the taxable value adjusted. But even if the tax record is accurate, you may disagree with the tax appraiser’s conclusion regarding the market value of your home. In that case, you’ll need to do more.
Gather Information About Whether Your Home Has Been Fairly Valued
Two types of information can help you establish that the tax appraiser has placed too high a taxable value on your home. The first (and most important) is how the appraiser has treated homes similar to yours. The second is how much homes like yours are currently selling for.
Taxable Values of Similar Homes
Review the assessment records for homes in your community that resemble your own. You’ll find those records at the tax appraiser’s office. Finding comparable homes will take time and effort, but can be worth it if you believe that your home is truly over-valued. Try to find homes that have approximately the same square footage as yours and, preferably, are located in the same neighborhood or a nearby one. If similar homes have a taxable value lower than yours, this is strong evidence that you’re over-assessed.
Example: Todd and Liz own a three-bedroom ranch-style home in a subdivision with many homes like theirs. The taxable value of their home is $375,000. They believe this amount is too high. They check the records for a dozen similar homes in their subdivision and discover that the average taxable value of those homes is $340,000. What’s more, most have finished basements and Todd and Liz don’t have this amenity. Todd and Liz have good evidence for claiming that the taxable value of their home is too high.
Sale Prices of Similar Homes
If you bought your house recently, the price you paid is excellent evidence of its current value. Regardless of when you bought your home, you should gather information about recent sales prices of similar homes in your community. Finding these sales prices may take some doing. For advice on gathering this kind of evidence you can consider asking an experienced Realtor to give you information about recent home sales in your area from the Multiple Listing Service database. If the stakes are high, you can hire a private appraiser to gather the information and provide a written report, though this will be more expensive.
Tip: If you recently re-financed your home or took out a home equity loan, the lender probably ordered a professional appraisal. Get a copy of it. It may give you powerful ammunition in your quest for a reduced taxable value.