CENTRAL TEXAS — Texas property appraisals started going out to taxpayers recently, with more coming due to lost time during our Texas Deep Freeze.
As you might expect, property values kept going up enough it might give you a case of "sticker shock".
Michelene Bess and her husband sold their McGregor house a couple of years ago. When they went to find a new one, they settled on a new development while they continue looking for what they really want.
”We were looking for property in McGregor for a while. We're fortunate enough that we found this property but for a few years there wasn't anything that met our needs," she explained.
What they'll find though will no doubt come with a pretty high price tag.
Property appraisers say, once again, hot home sales have driven up property values.
”Median run out for the counties about 9% for residential properties,” said Joe Don Bobbitt of the McLennan County Appraisal District.
In McGregor, some may see their appraisals go up as much as 40% after a state audit found McLennan appraisers undervalued properties in the McGregor school district.
Brazos County continues on the upward trend with values rising about 5% last year.
In Bell County, most properties inched higher, and Chief Appraiser Billy White expects 10%.
If you think it's just the most populated counties going up, Mitch Fast from Coryell will set you straight.
”We've researched approximately 1,200 residential sales and 400 rural land sales, and that has led to an increase in the market value of Coryell county of 11%. Copperas Cove experienced the highest increase at about 14%,” explained Fast.
And while Chip and Joanna Gaines might account for part of the spike in real estate, like the 15% bump in McLennan County a few years ago, you can't blame them for Brazos, Milam and even Copperas Cove.
As much as some people hate it, increases have become almost normal in many parts of our area but now, double-digit increases have started to become more common.
The Census Bureau reports one thousand people a day move to Texas, and apparently, we've started running out of places to put them.
”We're reporting at record lows of inventory. The inventory reported by Temple Board of Realtors recently was point two or point four months. Last January was so that inventory really shows how much your houses are out there when there's not much supply out there, and there's still demand that's the price are going to go up so, therefore, are very likely to follow what the market's doing,” said White of the Bell County Appraisal District, explaining those double-digit increases.
The real estate market keeps buzzing with stories of Californians with open checkbooks, making more than one bid on a property at more than the asking price.
Appraisers say a huge bump in just one house, can impact an entire neighborhood.
”When we look at properly sales we look at what is our appraised value compared to the sale price. And if on average or the median, if we're 5% below market on the properties that sold, we have to take the entire neighborhood up 5%,” said Bobbitt.
Setting up a situation where governments can lower their tax rates, yet we still pay more because it's based on the higher value.
”It's a double-edged sword. So I think with growth, you know, there, there is the flip side to that and you know, as, as a homeowner, you know, that's just one of the things is you have to pay property taxes,” said Bess.
So start saving now Texas, those tax bills come due this fall.
Local leaders call all our growth "a good problem to have," and most believe them about that, though that doesn't really help those of us caught up in it very much.
You can get help with out-of-whack property appraisals, and the property taxes connected to them.
”The first question you should ask is, what would I be able to sell my house for that or will I be able to sell it for more than that,” said White.
Facts may show it a better idea, to cash in and take the money and get cheaper property further out.
If you can handle the number, you can still save on taxes if you had significant damage from the Texas Deep Freeze.
”A lot of people may have had pipe damage buildings might have collapsed into snow and ice. And so if they have those kinds of issues they can bring them to us,” said Bobbitt.
You'll have to meet a minimum threshold of 15% of the value of the structures not including the land.
Say you don't agree with your appraisal and this year, they expect a lot of people to do that. Just come to the appraisal office or go online and register for an appeal.
”The deadline of protest is May 15 so if you do think there's been an error or information not considered in developing your appraisal, I would encourage people to take that step to protest,” explained Fast.
You'll need evidence to back up your claim.
"We won't be quite as lenient this year. How many more do we expect this year, we are, how many more are we preparing for? I believe we had 11,000 protests last year roughly. We'll probably hit 15 or 16,000," said Bobbitt.
Finally, Texas gives us a break for being a Texan.
"They may qualify for homestead exemption if they live there on January 1. So, although you're gonna be paying taxes, it's a good time to remind those people that don't understand what the homestead exemption does when it can definitely save on the taxes," said White.
Again, you'll need to prove it.
Not a problem for long-time Texan Michelene Bess who says, some of us might want to put a little money away, in case we have to pay more in property taxes this year.
”Obviously the oversight has caught up with us. Just like with any situation such as that we're going to have to pay our dues,” she said.
Because counting yourself among the nation's most popular, comes with a bit of a cost.