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Appraisal districts
Old 07-15-2010, 09:37 AM   #1
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Appraisal districts

OK... some venting here...

I live in Texas and we pay a lot of our taxes with property taxes... so it is important to get a low valuation on your home. We have the ability to protest our value...

I have now done this the last two years... and this is a rigged system...

I bought the house a little over a year ago... and they had the price at say "Y"... I purchased at 91% of that price... but when I went in, they did NOT want to reduce the price because they value as of Jan 1.. They said it would be an argument for next year.. I had to go before a review board and they voted to lower the price... Just for some perspective, the house was one of the highest per square foot in the neighborhood... I got it down to 'average'.

This year, I took a look at it appears that the whole neighborhood was reduced about 9%.. (no thanks from the neighbors... they probably don't know it was me who did it). But, I am not back to being "high" in the neighborhood. (just to put in perspective, I am #35 of 155 based on per sq. ft. of the streets around me). I went to argue that my house was not valued the same as other house around me. The law says that your property should be similarly assessed with other properties... I had a lot of evidence that mine was to high.

So I go in and the guy who works for the district agrees and gets a cost per sq. ft. for the other houses... but then averages that with my current value... keeping me higher than average... I said I would go before the review board again....

NOW... here is what pisses me off.... I showed that if you took all houses... the value would be X... but I showed that the house right next door is about 5% lower than X (all this is per sq. ft.)... and a house across the street is almost 7% lower than X... and I took a sample of houses all around the neighborhood and came up with the .95X... so I thought I had it in the bag..

The guy from the district pulls up a slide and shows that compared to THEIR comparables my house is worth 1.09X (which is higher than what I paid for it)... but that with the evidence that I presented they said it was 1.03X... Now the board votes... and two voted for 1.03X and one voted for the 1.09X... WTF I mean.... X is based on 155 properties... follow the frigging law.. in fact, based on the law I proved that it should be .95X...

So now I will have to pay about $250 to $300 more in taxes... SOOO, now I have to waste my time to protest again next year... or hire one of the tax protest firms who take 1/2 of your savings...

What a bummer...
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Old 07-15-2010, 09:40 AM   #2
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Doncha just love livin' in Texas?!
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Old 07-15-2010, 12:53 PM   #3
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Doncha just love livin' in Texas?!
Actually, tax-wise, I do like living in TX. Even though we have high property taxes, we're still near the bottom in total taxes:

Tax rates: Where does your state rank? - Apr. 14, 2009
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Old 07-15-2010, 01:25 PM   #4
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Texas politicians learned a long time ago that they were elected to office, and that property tax was an equation of tax rate times value. So they set up 'Appraisal Boards', of appointed officials, that they appoint. Then they can leave the tax rate the same, raise the taxes you pay, and campaign on 'I have never raised your taxes'. The only problem is the majority of Texans continue to let them get away with it.
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Old 07-15-2010, 02:58 PM   #5
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Actually, tax-wise, I do like living in TX.
Keep that crap up and all the (other) riff-raff will move down here with us.
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Old 07-15-2010, 03:28 PM   #6
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i bought my house 3/09. they appraised my house almost $20k higher than what i paid for it last year. i went in and had all this stuff ready to "low ball" them (just about the same as it was the year before) hoping to settle on around the selling price. i started off and the lady stops me before i get two words out of my mouth. we kindly go back and forth and she finally says, "if you want your sales price from last year, i can give you that." i thought that was about as fair as i could get this year. as i went to stand up i almost said, "see you next year." but she was nice at the end and was answering my questions.

i am planning a blog about arguing property tax protests in harris county (houston). i'm even thinking about getting a domain and doing it via wordpress rather than a blogspot. everyone complains about their property taxes, but no one seems to get together and help each other out, even though it's in your neighborhood's best interest. it's what the citizens need. as an engineer, i had a difficult time understanding their calculations. here is an excellent link from the state comptroller's office in fighting your property taxes. the best 20 mins you can spend...

careful pulling comps, i used a guy 2 houses down and they are in a different "neighborhood." even though their comps are houses 7 blocks away. i asked where i could find a map of my neighborhood, but the appraiser didn't know...she did mention it's all public knowledge.
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Old 07-15-2010, 04:13 PM   #7
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i bought my house 3/09. they appraised my house almost $20k higher than what i paid for it last year. i went in and had all this stuff ready to "low ball" them (just about the same as it was the year before) hoping to settle on around the selling price. i started off and the lady stops me before i get two words out of my mouth. we kindly go back and forth and she finally says, "if you want your sales price from last year, i can give you that." i thought that was about as fair as i could get this year. as i went to stand up i almost said, "see you next year." but she was nice at the end and was answering my questions.

i am planning a blog about arguing property tax protests in harris county (houston). i'm even thinking about getting a domain and doing it via wordpress rather than a blogspot. everyone complains about their property taxes, but no one seems to get together and help each other out, even though it's in your neighborhood's best interest. it's what the citizens need. as an engineer, i had a difficult time understanding their calculations. here is an excellent link from the state comptroller's office in fighting your property taxes. the best 20 mins you can spend...

careful pulling comps, i used a guy 2 houses down and they are in a different "neighborhood." even though their comps are houses 7 blocks away. i asked where i could find a map of my neighborhood, but the appraiser didn't know...she did mention it's all public knowledge.

It is all online... you can pull the info by street... you can check out what all your neighbor's houses are valued...

As I said in my OP, the board ignored all the evidence I provided FROM THEIR SYSTEM... houses that you could see from my windows... not even 7 blocks away... or even more than that...

The problem is the system is set up so it is difficult for you to win. Back when I was living in my other house and had let some (at lot) of the maintenance go to crap (had a torn out master bath and a hole in the side of the house).... their reponse "deferred maintenance" which does not affect the value of the house...

I applaude you in your goal... but do not think you will get very far... If you remember, O'Conner & Associates advertises all the time... they know the game.. there are a number of firms that do this besides them... they are the most well known... it is a racket that we do not know the rules... (well, we do, they are just stacked against us)....

Right now, I either accept the valuation given by the 'independant board' or I sue... for a few hundred $$$s Not likely... but is it 'fair'.... no..


BTW, I pointed out that the one house that was across the street was valued at .90X in 2009 and only went up to .96X... but was bigger than mine and also had a larger yard... so they should be about 1.03X if we were equal...

Sooo, I go again next year... and probably the one after that... at some point, I will get below average and will probably be happy... BUT, I did see that it can backfire on you... that the board CAN increase the value at the end of the hearing... even over what was sent to you and what was recommended by the appraisal district in the meeting...

I will take a look at the video this weekend... thanks for the link...
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Old 07-15-2010, 04:16 PM   #8
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Being in a different neighborhood may make a difference and it may not. Being in a different school district will generally make a difference. One thing to remember, in Texas, if you go to the board, you can request the comps the district used to determine your value. They have to give them to you, and they can not bring other comps before the board not given to you. You on the other hand have the right to introduce any comps you want.
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Old 07-15-2010, 04:40 PM   #9
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It is all online... you can pull the info by street... you can check out what all your neighbor's houses are valued...

As I said in my OP, the board ignored all the evidence I provided FROM THEIR SYSTEM... houses that you could see from my windows... not even 7 blocks away... or even more than that...

The problem is the system is set up so it is difficult for you to win. Back when I was living in my other house and had let some (at lot) of the maintenance go to crap (had a torn out master bath and a hole in the side of the house).... their reponse "deferred maintenance" which does not affect the value of the house...

I applaude you in your goal... but do not think you will get very far... If you remember, O'Conner & Associates advertises all the time... they know the game.. there are a number of firms that do this besides them... they are the most well known... it is a racket that we do not know the rules... (well, we do, they are just stacked against us)....

Right now, I either accept the valuation given by the 'independant board' or I sue... for a few hundred $$$s Not likely... but is it 'fair'.... no..


BTW, I pointed out that the one house that was across the street was valued at .90X in 2009 and only went up to .96X... but was bigger than mine and also had a larger yard... so they should be about 1.03X if we were equal...

Sooo, I go again next year... and probably the one after that... at some point, I will get below average and will probably be happy... BUT, I did see that it can backfire on you... that the board CAN increase the value at the end of the hearing... even over what was sent to you and what was recommended by the appraisal district in the meeting...

I will take a look at the video this weekend... thanks for the link...
o'connor saves the average joe...$400-$500? divide that in half and that is about an hour of a lawyers time. i'm skeptical of the service, at best.

i plan to document everything i learn from the tax appealing process. others may take it or leave it. my hope would be to at least engage my "neighbors" (which doesn't include the people two houses down, ones i share an alley with or those across the street from me, but does include those many blocks away). i'm kind of getting the impression this is going to be an annual event for me.

but if everyone shared what they learned, we'd all be better off. or the CAD's could just assign a fair valuation and not give us all this headache.

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Being in a different neighborhood may make a difference and it may not. Being in a different school district will generally make a difference. One thing to remember, in Texas, if you go to the board, you can request the comps the district used to determine your value. They have to give them to you, and they can not bring other comps before the board not given to you. You on the other hand have the right to introduce any comps you want.
it makes a difference where i live. i'm in 8203.0063c (or something of the like) and the guy 2 houses down lives in 8203.0063b (you get the idea). they don't accept comps in other "neighborhoods."

harris county actually lets everyone who protests download their support for their valuation. it has a lot of good information. funny all their comps are always the most expensive...
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Old 07-15-2010, 04:48 PM   #10
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I never worked for the appraisal district. However, while they say they 'won't accept comps from other neighborhoods', I doubt that is true. If they can get away with it, they will, but you can bet O'Connor does not always use comps from the same appraisal district neighborhood. If you hire an appraiser to appraise your home he will use the best comps he can find. Your problem is proving they are comps. There is also a difference in what the negotiator setting across from you will accept, and what the appraisal board and court will accept.

One suggestion is to hire O'Connor then go with him when he protest your value. If he does not get you a lower value you owe him nothing. Either way, it would be a good education.

Truth in Posting Notice: I was a State Certified Residential and Commercial Appraiser in Texas. I also worked for the Harris County Tax Office for 5 years as their MIS director.
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Old 07-15-2010, 05:14 PM   #11
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I never worked for the appraisal district. However, while they say they 'won't accept comps from other neighborhoods', I doubt that is true. If they can get away with it, they will, but you can bet O'Connor does not always use comps from the same appraisal district neighborhood. If you hire an appraiser to appraise your home he will use the best comps he can find. Your problem is proving they are comps. There is also a difference in what the negotiator setting across from you will accept, and what the appraisal board and court will accept.

One suggestion is to hire O'Connor then go with him when he protest your value. If he does not get you a lower value you owe him nothing. Either way, it would be a good education.

Truth in Posting Notice: I was a State Certified Residential and Commercial Appraiser in Texas. I also worked for the Harris County Tax Office for 5 years as their MIS director.
i plan to go sit in on some hearings as well as the information and assistance office. i know more than one person who has run into the "neighborhood" issue, but maybe you just need to push it more?

i'm kind of a DIY guy. education and learning is the key....thanks for the info.
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Old 07-16-2010, 02:33 AM   #12
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This story isn't from Texas (or the USA) so it's probably irrelevant but still p*sses me off. Just before we bought our current house (many years ago), we got a tax notice which included a statement approximating "we are now moving from a system of assessed value to market value".

We paid ~$200K for our house. At tax time "assessed" value was $290K. I appealed based on the assumption what I paid was "market price". The Court of Revision (this is where you appeal your taxes in Canada) decried that market value was what the assessor said and had no relation to actual selling price.

YMMV, MMDV
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Old 07-16-2010, 09:50 AM   #13
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Neighborhood can be deceiving....

I live in a neighborhood that now has 7 or more sections... some houses in the Estate area are close to $1 mill... they are a lot larger etc., so they do not compare... but say sections 3 to 7 are more upscale than sec 1 to 3 (where I live)... so the sq. ft. might be close, the actual house is not...


I will remember the comps next year when I go...


As for O'Conner... I actually met the guy when I worked for mega... he seems to be a nice guy, but does run his business agressively... the people who are doing the work are NOT lawyers... they do a LOT of them... (as an example... there were 7 Oconner clients on the screen when my name came up... out of maybe 20 to 30 names)... and are graded on how well they do.... if you do not cut the mustard, bye bye....
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Old 07-16-2010, 10:02 AM   #14
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Keep that crap up and all the (other) riff-raff will move down here with us.
Yeah, you have a good point! I hear the taxes are even lower in Florida! (hint hint)
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