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.
THE APPRAISAL DISTRICT MAY BE VALUING YOUR GEORGETOWN HOME INCORRECTLY
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 BOUGHT A RECENT GEORGETOWN HOME FOR SALE, YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE TO ARGUE
If you just recently purchased a home for sale in Georgetown, you HUD statement should suffice.