Archive | November, 2014

How We Saved $1,454 on Our Property Taxes, Part 4

24 Nov

The final chapter of our appraisal protest series. Previous posts include: Receiving Our Notice of Appraised Value, Filing a Notice to Appeal and Requesting Supporting Documentation, and Compiling the Evidence.

Corey received a letter assigning him a specific day and time for two back-to-back hearings at the county appraisal district.

Appraisal District Office

In the interest of time, many appraisal districts begin with an informal meeting that attempts to resolve the issue (like a plea bargain before trial). Corey was escorted to the cubicle of an associate appraiser who heard his case.

Appraisal Disctrict Appointment

Duplex #1’s Outcome
For reasons lost to the sands of time, each unit of this property was taxed independently (an owner-occupant probably wanted to claim the homestead exemption on their half). However, there seemed to be some discrepancies related to what had and hadn’t been split between both units. For example, the improvements (building/garage/patio) were split 50%, but the land value was applied in full and effectively counted twice.

The appraiser consulted with her superior, and came back with a proposal to use the average of the 3 sales comps (which were all complete duplexes) to provide a better apples-to-apples valuation. She also began the process to merge those two units under 1 property ID moving forward.

Duplex #2’s Outcome
This objection related to the selection of comparables. The property is on a street with 20 or so identical duplexes, plus 2 “luxury” duplexes that were built on the end several years later – and at a significantly higher cost.

One of these things is not like the other.

Two of these things are not like the others…

Using photos and year built information, it was pretty easy to convince the appraiser to throw out the outlier and use the average of the rest instead.

Next Steps
If Corey had not come to an agreement with the appraiser, he would have proceeded to a formal hearing with the Appraisal Review Board, a committee of 3 citizens. The results of that hearing could be appealed to district court.

Instead, Corey simply signed a 1-page “Final Agreement and Waiver of Protest” for each property that noted the corrected values.

Appraised Value – Before & After

Property 2013
(B vs A)
Duplex #1 $173,740 $216,948 $179,362 -$37,586
Duplex #2 $131,569 $169,105 $149,488 -$19,617

2014 Estimated Taxes – Before & After

Property Est. Taxes (Before) Est. Taxes (After) Change ($)
Change (%)
Duplex #1 $5,187 $4,288 $899 -17%
Duplex #2 $4,784 $4,229 $555 -12%

Would He Do It Again?
Corey says most definitely. If nothing else, the system simply can’t give too much attention to every little challenge, so they’ll probably cut you a deal to make the issue go away. Perhaps we wouldn’t bother if the appraised value/housing market was fairly stagnant year-over-year.

Since the appraisal process is automated, I think there’s a good chance we’ll see those higher-priced duplexes incorporated into duplex #2’s comps again – that error alone would have cost us a little over $500. We also have duplex #3 to contend with next year.

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