Property taxes seem to go up year after year. The annual tax assessment can be a frustrating and discouraging experience for many people. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way! Homeowners are not without recourse. Many property owners are not aware that there is a process for disputing and potentially reducing their property tax appraisal. The process is pretty straightforward and costs little more than a bit of research and a little perseverance. Here are a few things to consider if you are interested in pursuing the appeal process.
First of all, you MUST file a protest. The easiest way to file and begin this process is online via the Harris County Appraisal District website – www.hcad.org/ifile. The protest deadline is usually at the end of May so, try to begin the process soon after you receive your tax assessment in the mail.
There is a 10% cap on an annual increase of our home’s taxable Appraised Value, if you have filed a homestead exemption. Therefore, your Appraised Value MAY NOT increase by more than the 10% requirement.
Once you file the tax protest, you will be assigned an informal hearing date and HCAD will provide the property comparisons (comps) that were used to calculate your property’s value. To prepare for your hearing, gather documentation to support your position that your property value is lower than the appraised value on the assessment.
First, work on your comps. Take a careful look at the comparison homes provided by HCAD. You may be surprised to discover that they are not at all like yours. Clearly and succinctly document why any of the unfavorable comparison properties should not be considered in calculating your assessment.
Also, research homes that are similar to yours in your neighborhood and have sold in the last 365 days in order to make the case that they represent a more realistic set of comps for your property. If homes have sold recently in your neighborhood for less than your home’s value (either in total or on a per square foot basis) you can use this information to bolster your case.
Document any major factors with your property that would lower the value relative to other homes in the neighborhood. Prepare evidence such as replacement or repair cost estimates along with pictures. If there are issues with your street or home location, these should be noted as well.
In summary, you need to build a case documenting the considerations that would reduce the value of your home relative to similar homes in your neighborhood. Basically, when you go to the hearing, they need to be convinced of the specific reasons why your assessed value is overstated.
I am here to help. If you need comparable sales to your home over the last 365 days, please use the Request Comps tab located in the dropdown menu under HCAD protest and I will send the information to you.