Money SAVED is money EARNED! My mom taught me that. First of all to my introduction, I am a wife who does not even know how much electricity bill and other bills are paid monthly. Anything house related is being taken care by my husband. I know that this is probably the last thing I will say to introduce myself, but I want to give you this background as it can boost your confidence to try protesting yourself. I want to brief you with some myths:
- You are going to protest property value and not tax value.For ex: Appraisal district send you your property evaluation for Year 2016 to be paid taxes in Jan 2017 per property value evaluation.
- You are protesting for this year not last year.
- If you spend enough time to learn, you can do this successfully.
- In Texas, you can protest your property values.
- Even if it doesn’t lower your taxes, you should still protest your property values.
- Its not a rocket science and can be done with little research.
- Tell story about condition issue, but do not complain that you cant afford your home.
- There is a deadline to do this (usually end of May), so be on look out for that. Keep yourself up to date.
- Make sure, while you go to formal hearing they don’t remove your Homestead exemption as you protesting your personal residential property. (Thanks for this Tip Stephen Sheridan. )
- Some photos to help with process attached below.
I went to seminar by Michelle Ellen (realtor) in our area, which helped me a lot to give it a try for first time.
Step 1: We got our property evaluation from Appraisal district and they evaluated our home $20,000 more than last year. So if we paid $11,000 for taxes based on previous year evaluation, we pay $800 more based on new evaluation ($11,800). I am using different number for the privacy purpose. To make the picture clear, I am going to protest my property value to bring down to same as last year so I can pay same tax as last year which will save me $800.
Step 2: If you live in Texas, there will be a website for your county’s appraisal district to protest the property value online. We did that and online system offered us $10,000 less. That means I save $400 in taxes. But I decided to decline and go in person to bring it down more. Please know that once you decline online evaluation, you start from scratch at your formal hearing.
Step 3: It gave us a link to book formal hearing with appraisal district. Once you book the appointment, you can go for informal hearing in case you settle for what they offer you based on their research.
Step 4: This one is crucial step. What you need from your side? Comparable from your realtor. Its called CMA and know that any realtor should be able to provide it for you FREE. You need to really study in detail. Basically what you are trying to achieve here is, find the same house plans as yours in your community and make sure you are the most lowest priced compared to them. It is important to find out such property because that way you can tell appraiser that you house is not as much customized as these other houses on CMA. Take photos of all the maintenance items through out the year or recent ones, which are not fixed yet. I took photos of broken shingles, replaces standing shower pan, dents and holes in patio ceiling, etc. Photos help, take as many as possible. Research well. For example: your sqft are mentioned wrong, you have triangle shaped lot(hard to resale), only 2 car garage, No customization or upgrades like neighborhood houses, etc…
Step 5: I did not go to informal hearing. But if you decide to, you can request a copy of House Bill 201 which is their side of comparable (CMA). I went directly to formal hearing and present my side of story. The appraiser found that all comparable on my CMA are actually priced correct and that is why I should not be allowed to lower my property value. Which means I am loosing my battle here and also turned down the $10,000 benefit , the online system offered me. I asked him to pull up other properties on his system. He was kind and did that for me. He offered me to match what online system offered even though he proved to me that his evaluation is correct considering all factors; which is $10,000 less the existing property evaluation.
Step 6: Before I accept, I tried pulling out all the photos. And he genuinely felt that this kind of issues should have been fixed. So, he lowered $5000 more. So, basically if my house was priced at $425000 for year of 2016, going in to formal hearing I was able to lower it to $410,000. Which will save me around $700 for property taxes to be paid in 2017.
I hope that helps. I also took photos of power point from seminar where I went to learn this process. Please find it here, it might help you understand little better. My special thanks to my realtor Stephen Sheridan, who provided me with CMA and also Michelle ellen who arranged the seminar for people like us. It would not have been possible without you guys. Thank you for visiting here. I hope this helps you and feel free to let me know how did it go for you to protest your property values. Good luck.