More than 1,700 people have signed up for The Watchdog’s 4th Annual Real Estate Value Protest Seminar. As a moderator, I felt like I received 1,700 questions.
We crammed so much information into one hour that a viewer on Zoom chat complained that we were speaking too quickly. Watch the full video on DallasNews.com.
For many Texas counties, the deadline for filing a protest this year is May 17th. Denton County’s deadline is expected to be mid-June. (This lack of standardization in the counties is another nuisance to a very unfair tax system.)
The most common question asked is: I’m over 65 and my school taxes are frozen. Should I still file a protest against the property’s value?
The answer: “Sometimes,” said Will Wiggins of North Texas Property Tax Services.
Not all tax authorities freeze their senior tax rates, he said. All school districts are required to do so, and most districts do. However, this can still increase about 20% of your taxes depending on what your city, hospital district, college district, and other tax authorities listed on your real estate notice are doing.
In that case, he added, you would file a property protest and keep that part of the tax bill down. “You will want to investigate this.”
My second panelist, Glenn Goodrich, owner of propertytax.io – a website that uses algorithms to predict your protest success – said, “If you want to give your home to your children, you can protest every year to keep the taxes low on it to limit their tax burden.
“The blankets and exemption will be taken away when given to them and they could face sticker shock and a really heavy tax burden. For estate planning purposes, you may want to aim for a reduction each year. “
Question: My estimated value is the same as last year. Should i protest?
Goodrich: “As an agent representing people, I’ve received discounts for people who have actually been depreciated. The goal is to provide evidence that will bring you a reduction. “
Can the land value be changed by the protest process?
Wiggins: “In the evaluation committee (where protests take place) they tend to stay away from it. That’s one of the harder arguments. “
I show two exceptions on the Dallas Central Appraisal District website. The first is marked with “homestead”, the second with “other”. Is that my release from over 65 years?
Goodrich: Most likely. A new state law was passed preventing a rating district from publicly displaying exceptions for over 65 people on its website to prevent people over 65 from targeting people for marketing purposes. The ‘other’ could also be for disabled people. “
Explain what the 10% limit is.
Wiggins: “If you have a homestead exemption, the homestead limit would prevent you from increasing your taxable value by more than 10%. Dallas taxable value terminology is limited. It is rated in Collin County. It is assessed in Tarrant. There should be a name for it. “
Goodrich: “The homestead cap disappears one year after you buy a property, only for that one year.”
Wiggins: “These homestead exemptions are tied to the owner, not the property.”
I have used Zillow in the past to find the latest sales prices for homes near me. But sometimes they are not announced. What other data sources can I use to get comparable properties?
Goodrich: “I wouldn’t trust Zillow with the selling prices. You can get them from a broker who has access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). They can also make an open records request from the appraisal district and they will need to tell you the sales they are using to appraise your property. “
If you’re having a general contractor renovate in 2021, should you provide a copy of the contract and request a discount equal to the value of the contract?
Wiggins: “It doesn’t matter.” The reference date is the actual condition of the accommodation on January 1st. “If your plumbing is bad and you need to get it repaired, the bigger question is whether your plumbing was bad as of January 1st.”
If the appraised value is significantly below the market value of my home, is there any reason to protest my appraisal?
Wiggins: “You see longevity as the basis for the next year. You don’t want this market value to be rampant. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. You have to fix it. If it doesn’t help you now, it could very well help you and save you money in the future. “
My house doesn’t have a garage, but all comparable properties around me have a garage. I keep fighting my judgment every year. How do I get over this annual difficulty?
Wiggins: Are you making the appropriate adjustments? Make sure they know you don’t have one. “
Do property tax laws differ from county to county? Or are they the same across the state?
Goodrich: “They are very different in the counties. In Collin, for example, they have a limit on comp sales that they no longer take into account after January 31, 2021. They’re heading to Dallas, south of it, and have sales for May or June of this year. That’s only an example. We could have a full hour seminar on how different they are. But they are very different. And that’s a frustration at offering general advice on property tax. “
When it comes to protesting my property value, does it make a difference whether I go to your office or do it online?
Wiggins: It makes a difference to me. Don’t cut yourself off by doing it on zoom. Come in there. Make sure you have eye contact with people when you show the evidence and make sure they are looking at you. “
How do swimming pools affect this?
Wiggins: “It’s an improvement. When you add a pool, the district has the right to add it. “
If you didn’t receive a reference to the blue property value in the email, what does that mean?
Goodrich: “A valuation district doesn’t have to send you a notice if your value hasn’t risen.” The deadline is May 17th for most counties, but not all.
You can watch the full video of the seminar here. On YouTube, search for the title “New Information on Filing Your Protest to Evaluate Texas Property Tax 2021. Save money on your taxes. “
You can also find it on my social media streams on Twitter (@davelieber), LinkedIn, Facebook on my activist group DallasNews Watchdog Posse – and on The Watchdog’s main story page at dallasnews.com/watchdog.
Final note from The Watchdog: Go to your district’s website and search for your property. Browse around and see what information is available. If you have any questions, contact your assessment district. Don’t be shy if you have any questions.