Watching the value of your home increase is one of the many joys of homeownership. Paying your property taxes? That’s often a different story.
In the short term, an increase in property taxes may not hurt too bad, but over time those dollars will add up. We’re willing to bet you can find a better way to spend your hard-earned money.
To save you some work, we consulted with the Tax Assessor’s office to learn more about how you can lower your property taxes.
First, let’s make one thing clear – Your assessed tax value is NOT the same thing as what your home can sell for (a.k.a. it’s market value). It has to do with how much you will pay in property taxes, so it’s in your best interest to explore protesting this value every year.
Here are some practical tips to help you get started.
- Review your assessment. Understanding your tax assessment is a key part of a successful protest, so make sure you take the time to review it. Each district has different ways of measuring assessed property values. Some do it as a percentage of overall market value, others go by replacement cost. Multiply that number by your district’s tax rate, and you have your property taxes. Most taxing districts evaluate property values every two years, and in down markets rarely lower the property values without a protest from the homeowner.
- Look up the protest process with your district. For reference, we’ve linked a few popular local municipalities in North Texas. The form you are looking for is typically called “Notice of Protest.” We often get requests for Dallas County, Collin County, Tarrant County, Denton County, Ellis County, Kaufman County, Hunt County, Parker County, Hood County, Travis County, Hays County, Burnet County, Comal County, and Harris County.
Next, there are 3 different ways to go about protesting your taxes. We’ve ranked them for you based on their relative ease.
- Submit documentation and file online. We will cover below what you need to submit or bring in person to fight your property taxes. If you file online, you will be able to waive your right to a formal hearing with the assessor. We recommend NOT checking this box to waive the formal hearing — it’s best to leave your options open to present your case.
- Submit a protest via mail. This is a more risky option as things have their way of magically disappearing in the mail. You also will have to wait longer to get your formal hearing scheduled should you choose to request one. Simply put, if your mail gets lost, you risk losing the right to fight your taxes for this calendar year.
- Go for an informal Tax Assessor meeting. Given the current measures being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, this may not be a current option in your area, although we’ve included it for future reference. Typically, many districts accept walk-in tax disputes prior to your official Assessor’s meeting. The sooner you go after receiving your notice, the better. You can look up your Tax Assessor’s office at the links above to find your location for disputes.
Once you submit your protest, your next step is typically to attend your optional Formal Tax Assessor’s meeting. This hearing allows you to bring printed evidence and state your case for why your assessed value is higher than it should be.
*Due to the COVID-19 crisis, many tax offices are suspending all direct customer interaction, but may still be operating and communicating remotely. Some districts are indefinitely postponing appraisal hearings for later dates to be determined. Contact your county office to learn more about the specific procedures they’ve implemented.
When preparing to submit your protest, here are some items to have in order:
- Consult your Realtor® to understand the market value of your home. You can always browse the Van Poole Properties website to get a general idea of what homes in your neighborhood are selling for, but the goal is here is to be as accurate as possible. Our agents will run a full comparative market analysis on your home, providing a clear picture of your home’s market value. You can request a free home valuation HERE.
- Look up the values of your neighbors’ homes on your tax district’s website. Sometimes your home will have increased in value when your neighbors’ homes have not. If this is the case, we’ve seen clients protest in the past by simply bringing in the values of the other homes on their street. Your grievance is considered “value inequity” if you see that your assessed property value is higher than your neighbors’ homes, provided their homes are of a similar condition, age, and size.
- Learn how your property is valued with the Tax Assessor. This is the one time that being the nicest home on the block isn’t something you want to brag about. Properties are usually graded as Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor. If you can get your property downgraded in regards to condition, the increase in assessed value will be more manageable on an annual basis. Here are a couple of ways you can do this:
- Get a bid from a general contractor to show the work that would still be needed to get the home into upgraded or “ready to sell” condition. If you need recommendations for contractors, we are happy to refer you a few that our clients have had good experiences with.
- Take pictures of things you still need to update in the home to help justify the condition. Not only will you support your case, but you’ll also compile a nice list of potential future projects!
If you have specific questions regarding your own property taxes, you can always reach out for help by filling out a form on our website or calling us at 972-608-0777.