MCGREGOR, TX — Growth in Texas comes with a price tag, especially in the cost of a home.
Don't believe it?
Check out that county property appraisal that just came in the mail, or will arrive soon.
Property values keep rising, and people in one Texas town should get ready for some serious "sticker shock."
Folks in McGregor love their high school baseball and softball. It's a numbers games really, because the team with the biggest numbers at the end wins.
You might call McGregor a winner in the population game as it hits a home run on growth and change with people moving here almost every day.
”I grew up here, so I've been here all my life and I'm 38. So you see a lot of change. Yeah, absolutely, it's growing, so it was a small town before and now it's quite bigger, so yes so big small town. Yes, for sure,” said Brandi Chandler.
But this big small town seems stuck in the batter's cage, she says, when it comes to housing.
Few people counted on so many folks moving here all at once, leaving the town with a limited supply of housing, and high demand.
Like a pop fly, or maybe a Space X rocket, property values headed for the sky, or even farther.
”Individual properties will range anywhere from, some will actually will go down, and others in river riverfront properties, they'll be decreasing in value, and some may actually get a 40% increase,” explained Joe Don Bobbitt, of the McLennan County Appraisal District.
Some folks in McGregor will see their property appraisals go up by almost half.
And even though governments often lower their taxes when values go up, a 40% jump usually suggests you'd better start saving up.
”What would that do to my budget? It would blow it,” said Chandler.
With the bases loaded, the McLennan County Appraisal District needed to hit its appraisals out of the park.
”According to our data, we are at 98% 100% of market. And so, we usually try to be just just under market so give people a little bit of a break, but not crazy," said Bobbitt.
But in an audit, the state of Texas found when it comes to property appraisals in the McGregor School District, appraisers took a swing and a miss.
"Normally, the state comes in and matches are pretty close, but this time the state came in and they had three times as many sales as we did. They had the higher sales whereas we had a lower sales. And so now we're sort of, McGregor, we have to play catch up. And they're gonna come back in at the end of the year and re-audit us," said Bobbitt.
The was exacerbated by the lack of access to the MLS.
A tiff with realtors a while back left the appraisal district without access to the so-called Multiple Listing Service, a record kept by realtors of asking prices and sales figures.
After flying blind for a while, depending on numbers supplied by people disputing their appraisals, the district recently regained access to sales records through a state contract.
Property assessments are important because it’s the number on which local governments like school districts base our property taxes. If appraisals come in too low, schools get short changed.
And administrators say, that has a "domino effect."
”It goes to pay for everything from facilities, to you know, just the events, you know this, the way that we you know the UIL events and busing, and most importantly goes for teacher salary and stuff," explained Michelene Bess, an administrator for a Waco charter school.
You can add police, firefighters and even public works to that list, because they all depend, in part at least, on property taxes.
Brandy Chandler says good timing made her house a "catch."
”Honestly, we got lucky. Before this increase came about. We got lucky and we bought a house before it. I feel sorry for people that are shopping in McGregor right now for a home, because it's just it's crazy to see the home values. Am I afraid that in the future the taxes may get to the point where you can't afford the taxes? Absolutely, absolutely. How do I plan for that? You don't. And where do you go after that?” asked Chandler.
Since this big change supposedly catches McGregor up on property values, folks here hope they can catch some breathing room before the ump calls another "out."