If you need assistance, please call 512-888-9205


Monday, November 20, 2017   /   by Meagan Henry


Georgetown Property Taxes Are Open to Discussion

Even the most beautiful homes in Georgetown can face the annoying prospect of dealing with property tax assessments that are inaccurate.


I’ll bet you've received your property valuation notice in the mail in the last week or two. Were you shocked at what they said your home is worth? I've fought my taxes every year for as long as I can remember, and I consider it a worthwhile endeavor. Here's a few things I've learned from all that:

1. It’s worth your time to argue! If you know what you are doing, you can often get a reduction. If you go to visit the appraisal district at non-peak times, it usually doesn’t take that long. If it takes you ½ an hour and you save yourself $500, then voila! You’re worth $1000 per hour!

2. Don’t rely on the realty websites for accurate home valuations. Since Texas is a “non-disclosure state,” we do not report sales to any public databases. This means the web sites do not have an accurate database in our state to pull “Sold” data from. Consequently, their “market analysis” is very often way off where real market value would be. Check out how Zillow reports on their own Zestimate accuracy in Texas: http://www.zillow.com/zestimate/ It’s pretty pitiful.

3. Understand that the Appraisal District does a MASS APPRAISAL on hundreds of thousands of properties…with a computer. In Williamson County, there’s over 330,000 parcels of property that must get a valuation assigned. There’s no way that the folks at the appraisal district can really do a market analysis on all of them. They have a sophisticated computer algorithm that picks comps for your property and goes from there. You may find that they have picked a comp that was somehow not a match for your home.

4. The Appraisal District may have incorrect data on your property. Look yourself up at www.wcad.org or www.traviscad.org and check to see if they have your square feet numbers accurate. I’ve already spoken to one friend in the last week who discovered they had his home as being nearly 1000 square feet bigger than it actually is! Obviously, that throws the numbers off.

5. Do you have your Homestead Exemption paperwork filed with the District? At the Russ Phillips Team, we make a point of mailing you a reminder to file your homestead exemption after the first of January when you become eligible. But it never seems to fail that we run across someone that has forgotten. This is a very valuable protection. It puts a cap on how much they can raise your valuation each year, AND it protects your home in the event someone files suit against you. When you look yourself up, you should be able to see if the exemption is there. If not, the instructions are on the website, or you can email me back to ask how.

6. What a buyer looks at is hugely different from what the Appraisal District looks at. Does it surprise you to know that they do not care what the interior finishes of your home look like?

a. When I price a home, I have to reflect back on 13 years of experience of walking a whole lot of buyers through properties and knowing what they respond to, what they like, and what they won’t like…stuff like “How does the floorplan flow?” and “Does it have wood floors or carpet?”

b. The appraisal district doesn’t care about the interior one bit. They simply grade the exterior of your home and give it a score. On a scale of 1-10, they have specific standards for each category number. For example, if you have Stone and Stucco exterior and a tile roof, they’ll put you in a category high on the scale. If you have one side stone and all other sides are Hardi-plank, that will rank you in a category lower on the scale. The grade that you’re given will determine the “comps” that they use. It’s worthwhile to check and see what your exterior score is, and determine if it is accurate, or if they fudged you a little too high on the scale. Be prepared to show photos of your exterior to prove your case.






If you just recently purchased a home for sale in Georgetown, you HUD statement should suffice.
7.  If you just bought your home in 2014 (or early 2015), you can just show your HUD statement and they shouldn’t fight you over the value.  When Debbie and I bought our first home here in the area in October of 1999, we paid $151,000.  That next spring, our tax notice showed $172,000.  All we had to do was show them the settlement statement and there was no argument.  Bam!

8.  If you cannot agree with the Appraisal District employee, you do have the right to appeal.  To escalate your argument, you’d have to make a return trip and see the Appraisal Review Board.  This is a group of 3 citizens who make a final decision on your case.  They do know the rules on what the district can and will consider, so whether or not you get a different opinion is tough to predict.

9.  Remember that they have to prove the value to you.  This really seems to work the best when you have a property that is unique.  For example, I live on some acreage, so I always ask “Where are you pulling properties like mine from?  I have not seen any sales close that justify your numbers…”  Then I see what they pull up, and I talk about why I’m different.  I have flood plain on my land and have had fences washed out in rain storms (and I show pictures).  Last year, one of the sales they pulled up had an address on Highway 29, so I mentioned that it had commercial potential and the price reflected that.  What makes your home different than others around you?  NOTE:  This can be tougher in neighborhoods where there are many homes that are similar to each other, in which case, you should explore the grade on your exterior.

10.  BE FRIENDLY…make an offer…SHUT UP!  This should go without saying, but keep in mind that at this time of year, those employees are dealing with a lot of angry people.  The more winsome you are, the better your results. Let them know you are someone who really is trying to understand the process and not just trying force your will upon them.  I’ll bet they help you look in the file for how they might be able to come down.   Don’t be surprised if they ask you what you think your property would sell for…have an answer for that…maybe even offer a number up…then zip your lip until they answer.  This is especially great when your property is hard to compare to others….They may not meet your number, but it’s been my experience they will at least counter offer.

Remember the Russ Phillips Team wants to be your resource for all things real estate and all price ranges too.  We specialize in homes for sale in Georgetown and throughout Central Texas. Feel free to reach out to us at 512-698-RUSS (7877).   And please connect us with those people you run across who tell you that they are considering a move.  We helped 68 families get where they wanted to be last year and we can help yours too.