Travis County Tax Appraisals

Cock-up or consipiracy theory? A quick survey of about twenty Bouldin Creek Residents, it looks like there’s been a conspiracy over at the property eval/assesment department to jack up property and/or lot values to reach the maximum 10% increase in property taxes.

It’s seems pretty obvious that while many are trying to talk Austin up, claiming that Austin isn’t being hit as hard, or even has a modest upswing. At least, as far as the Austin Real Estate blog is concerned, not only are sales on the decline, so are prices.

My 3-bed, 2 1/2 bath house on a modest south central Austin lot has gone up by $58,000 in a single year. That in what has to be one of the more serious economic downturns in a long time. It’s thus somewhat complexing to find Travis county thinks pretty much all properties have increased substantially, where the dwelling valuation has gone down, the lot value has been increased to compensate. Yes, we live in a decent neighborhood that benefits from being in a central/downtown area, but really, prices have gone up by how much?

If your valuation has gone up and you want to appeal, Amplify FCU are providing a seminar “Texas Property Tax Reform and How To Protest Your Property Tax Bill” at their Brockton branch this Saturday, May 2nd – 10:30 am to 11:30 am. This event is FREE but seating is limited, please RSVP here.

Certianly I’d like to hear what others are seeing across the city, how pervasive is this?

3 Comments so far

  1. juliet77 on April 27th, 2009 @ 10:52 am

    Huh, ours stayed exactly the same. I mean EXACTLY, down to the penny, which pleasantly surprised me. TCAD never does that.
    We live in South Central East Austin (just north of Ben White), so I’m pretty sure our real property values (meaning what you could sell the house for), have gone down if anything. But it’s not as if TCAD ever addresses that. I will say that in my 8 years of owning houses in Austin (this is only my 2nd appraisal for this house), it’s gone up the maximum every year.
    As unpopular as it is, what we need is a state income tax or this is never going to be fixed.

  2. kirker on April 27th, 2009 @ 5:28 pm

    I don’t think it’s a cock-up or conspiracy theory. It is a simple fact that Bouldin-area housing prices have skyrocketed over the past ten years, and tax appraisals are only now catching up to actual market values. It is also a fact that, while Austin-area sales and sale prices as a whole have fallen, Bouldin-area prices have in most cases remained stable, with the exception of fixer-uppers (because no one has the funds to fix up places these days, an endeavor that generally requires cash) or houses located in what we will call "subpar" locations, e.g. the lovely new house on Live Oak, just west of S. 1st, overlooking a very unlovely car wash. (I believe its price has dropped from $649K to $499K.) Or houses that are just plain ugly, like the new "Tuscan-style" McMansions now blighting the 700 block of West Johanna (which went into foreclosure and are now on the market for around $100K less than originally). Sure, there are no longer bidding wars or houses selling literally within days, and yes, there’s plenty of inventory on the market, but for the time being Bouldin’s still a very safe bet real estate-wise.

    But let’s put it this way, using a real-life example: I had a realtor friend do some comps on houses similar to mine, because I have a friend moving to town who’s interested in living in the area. Recent comps for my place, which is fully renovated and in excellent condition, are all around $600K. TCAD has it appraised at around $450K. Thus, I find it hard to complain.

    That said, some other areas of town are getting screwed. My dear mother is in about the opposite position as me: her house is worth around $500K, but TCAD just appraised it at $625K on the basis of its land. She has a large lot adjacent to multi-family housing that would be great to build townhouses on, and would thus be worth a substantial amount to a spec developer — except that spec developments have ground to a halt and aren’t likely to go anywhere for at least the next several years. Suffice it to say she will be protesting her assessment.

  3. triman on April 28th, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

    Thanks for the comprehensive comment. Yes this is obviously much more complex than first take. In my case, my property valuation was already at it’s market value last year, as it was a new build rather than a redevelopment or flip. Hence my surprisde, given the market conditions, at the big raise.

    I must admit, I didn’t think the property valuation would be gated by adjcent properties, such as the Live Oak example you qoute. Thats something to look into, since I have and continue to have commercial exploitation creep onto the property next door to me.

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