Protest Deadline Moved Forward What Harris County Homeowners Need To Know About Their 2018 Home Appr

Dated: 04/21/2018

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Homeowners in Harris County began getting their property value notices in the mail last week, and notices will continue to be sent out over the coming weeks as the Harris County Appraisal District works to set values for every property in the county.

Once a homeowner receives the value notice, he or she can decide to file a protest if they do not agree with the value that has been set. Here are a few things homeowners should know about the appraisal and protest process in Harris County:

Appraised property value ultimately determines how much property tax is owed when tax bills are sent out

A home’s appraised value—along with tax rates and exemptions—is one of the main factors that goes into determining how much property tax a resident owes when tax bills are sent out in October and November.

To come up with total property taxes owed, the combined tax rates of all the entities that collect taxes in a certain area—city, county, school district, utility districts, etc.—is applied to the appraised value per $100 of valuation. Exemptions play into the equation as well by helping to lower appraised values.

Essentially, a lower appraised value results in a smaller property tax bill, which is why more than 350,000 Harris County residents file protests each year to have their values lowered.

Coming with the proper evidence is crucial

Jack Barnett, HCAD’s chief communications officer, said there are several key details residents should take into account if they plan to file a protest:

  1. You are not actually protesting your appraised value. You are protesting your market value. The market value is based on what HCAD has determined the home would sell for on the open market. The appraised value is calculated based on the market value while also factoring in exemptions.

  2. Check the boxes on the protest form that apply to why you are protesting.

“We suggest they check the first two boxes, which are market value and unequal value, because people usually talk about both,” Barnett said. “Otherwise, if they go to an [appraisal review board] hearing, the ARB will only listen to evidence that relates to the reasons originally chosen on the protest form.”

3. Bring evidence. This includes photos, repair estimates and comparable sales data that would indicate a home’s market value has been incorrectly assessed.

“They should also have gone over the evidence so they are organized and know what they are going to say because the hearings can go quickly,” Barnett said.

The deadline to file a protest has moved from May 31 to May 15

The deadline for property owners to file a protest in 2017 was May 31, but the deadline has changed this year to May 15. The change went into effect following the passage of House Bill 2228 in the 2017 State Legislative Session.

The May 15 deadline does not apply to homeowners who receive their appraisal notices after April 15. Those homeowners have 30 days from the day they receive their notices to file a protest.

There are many ways to file a protest

Homeowners can file a protest by sending it through the mail, bringing a paper protest form to the HCAD office or electronically through iFile. If they use iFile, they can also opt in to iSettle, where they can upload documents to show why their value should be lowered, Barnett said.

“If a new offer is made and they accept the new iSettle offer, that is their new value and they never have to come into the building,” he said.

Those who file a paper protest or choose to iFile will be scheduled to meet with an appraiser. The meeting is optional, Barnett said, but he recommended homeowners take advantage of it to show the appraiser evidence of why their value should be lowered.

If they property owner does not accept the offer, or they skip the meeting with the appraiser, they are scheduled to go to an Appraisal Review Board hearing, Barnett said. This involves three ARB members hearing testimony and reviewing evidence from both the property owner and HCAD to determine if the value should be changed.

Homeowners who are uncomfortable going through the protest process on their own can seek help from property tax consultants who specialize in protesting.

Patrick O’Connor, the owner and president of the O’Connor and Associates tax consulting firm, said he is preparing for what he expects to be a chaotic few months of protests due to Hurricane Harvey. He said his firm conducted a study of 1,000 homes that sold after flooding in Harris County and found they were selling for about 35-40 percent less than they otherwise would have, indicating that there are arguments to be made for values to be lowered.

“You definitely need to protest,” O’Connor said of people with homes that flooded.

Values for homes damaged during Hurricane Harvey are still being finalized

Barnett said values of homes that were damaged during Hurricane Harvey are still being finalized and have not been sent out yet. He declined to give an estimate for when they could be sent out, but noted that those homeowners will not be beholden to the May 15 deadline and will have 30 days from when they receive their notices to file a protest.

Barnett said he also could not state how many homes in Harris County were damaged by Harvey at this point or the extent to which that damage could affect revenue for the county.

Barnett said the value of homes that flooded is determined by analyzing the amount of damage in addition to looking at home sales in the area. He said HCAD appraisers have used a variety of methods to assess damage after Harvey, including analyzing media reports, 311 calls and 911 calls and having appraisers view the condition of each flooded home in person.

“We’re still collecting information and analyzing data,” he said.

#tax #propertytax #finance #realestate #houston #nexthome #realtor #iChooseJared

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Jared Anthony

As a full time professional real estate agent & former airline pilot, I pride myself on offering superior personal service before, during and after your transaction. Knowledge, commitment, honesty, ex....

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