Property tax values ​​double at rate never seen before for Texas homeowners

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Unprecedented increases in Texas real estate valuations have stunned many homeowners receiving their tax bills.

Shannon Nash owns four acres at Smith Point in Chambers County. In 2021, his property was valued at around $65,000. A year later, its value had risen to nearly $382,000.

“I was mostly in shock,” Nash said. “I called a number of people I know around here and they were already in shock. They had received their bills before me.”

In 2021, Nash owed about $1,700 in property taxes. In 2022, he will have to pay over $10,000 to Chambers County.

“As unfair as the blow may be, we can take the blow,” Nash explained. “The people who won’t be able to take the hit are those who work hard and try to earn a small piece of land here.”

A Harris County chief assessor, Roland Altinger, called the property’s assessment increases “unprecedented.”

“In almost 40 years, I’ve never seen such massive increases in market values,” Altinger said.

According to Altinger, 95% of the county sees an increase in the value of their property by an average of 20%.

Harris County is the largest assessment district in the United States, which means they cannot assess each property individually.

Instead, mass valuation is used, in which groups like properties use data and statistical analysis to determine valuations.

Nash is protesting the value of his property and said he was hopeful but did not expect this to happen.

“We’re not seeing as much movement as we would like, to put it mildly,” said Sam Pack, property tax consultant at Rainbolt and Co..

With the shocking increases in tax bills, there is an increase in the number of disgruntled homeowners seeking help from Rainbolt and Co. to protest their assessments.

Pack said he heard some people say they wouldn’t be able to afford the tax hike.

“It’s just an unfortunate situation for a lot of people,” Pack said.

The challenge they face when fighting to drive down value is the difference between appraised value and market value. The appraised value takes into account homestead exemptions, which cap the increase at 10% per year.

This determines how much a homeowner pays in taxes. Market values ​​are determined by how much the home could sell for. In many cases, these numbers are different due to the housing boom.

To save customers money, Pack and his colleagues need to drive the market value down past the appraised value before saving money.

“When you argue, your starting point is $550,000, but you have to go below $440,000 before you see a penny in savings, which is confusing for a lot of people and discouraging,” Pack explained. . “Looking at the data, they could reduce the $550,000 to $475,000, and based on the data, that could very well be a good number. It doesn’t save you money, but it puts you in a better position for next year.”

Pack predicts that 2023 tax bills will look dramatically different as interest rates change.

“The chances of it going down and not staying on that trajectory is 100% because it’s already going down,” Pack said.

The time limit for appealing has expired.

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Penny D. Jackson