The Harris County Appraisal District thought my life wasn’t busy enough and gifted me with a HUGE problem. They sent me my property appraisal for 2014 and it boggled my mind! My new home, built in 2012, had apparently went from being worth $259,500 to being worth $315,000 over the last 18 months!!! Wow, that’s more than $55,000 in a blink of an eye! This $315,000 would have been capped at $286,000 for tax purposes since they couldn’t actually go past a 10% increase, but I thought $286,000 was ridiculous too. Plus, if you give them an inch, they can keep hitting you with a 10% foot every year. I considered calling them and offering to sale at $315,000 immediately, but then my sense of humor died away and I was just frazzled.
How I Protested My Property Appraisal
- First I took some deep breaths and looked into my options based on the forms they included with my appraisal.
- Then I used search engines to verify my options like an online iFile protest and the formal Appraisal Review Board (ARB) hearing.
- I used the Harris County Appraisal Disctrict’s (HCAD) website to look up my neighbor’s new appraisals and verified that mine was WAY off the mark. My home was being appraised at $85 a square foot while everyone else’s was between $63-$70 per square foot.
- I used their online site to submit the iFile protest to see if they would offer me a realistic settlement offer and save me a trip to a formal ARB hearing.
- A month later, they offered a settlement at $280,000 instead of the original $315,000. But I thought my $259,500 was still more realistic, so I asked for a formal hearing.
- I used the “evidence” that they sent me to find the sales prices of homes like mine and in my subdivision. I combined that info with my own home appraisal research and came to the conclusion that my home really should be valued at $258,000-$269,000 (I obviously went for the lowest number). This breakdown was shown on an Excel sheet that contained the addresses, market values, appraisal values, price per square foot, etc. of the properties that I was comparing to my own. This was my “Comp Sheet”.
- I took pictures of my home and the comp homes and pointed out that I have the worst lot that is surrounded by power lines.
- I made 4 copies of all of my “evidence” since they said I needed a copy for each of the 3 ARB members and the HCAD representative.
- I showed up to my ARB hearing date on Tuesday 15 minutes before my scheduled 3:05pm time.
- I was hustled back to the hearing at 4pm.
- The ARB members pretty much ignored me and took the HCAD guy’s assessment completely.
- Luckily, the HCAD guy wasn’t a douche and I was re-assessed at $262,000.
- I walked out simultaneously pissed that I had wasted so much time getting my “evidence” perfect yet was completely ignored, but happy that my 2014 property appraisal is at $262,000 instead of $315,000.
The ARB Hearing
The hearing was short and freaking frustrating! Especially after waiting for more than an hour to be seen.
I was asked to sit and was sworn in that what I was attesting was true. They made a point to tell me that the three ARB members were not associated with HCAD in any way. Then they asked for me to present my case. One of the members was obviously ignoring me – to the point that he asked me “So, did you add on anything since the home was built?” about 7 seconds after I finished presenting my case with “And there are absolutely no additions to the house since it was built in late 2012.” Grrrr…
Then they asked the HCAD guy to present his case. He flashed up two sheets of comps – one that was realistic, one that wasn’t – and an aerial view of my lot. He then said that based on that info, my home was probably worth $262,000 in total market value and suggested that the appraisal value be left at $314,000. In my rebuttal, I asked why the appraisal value should be so much higher than what I could sell it for and he flashed up the non-realistic sheet again.
They accepted his case word for word, and then stated that the taxable value is the lower of the two prices that he set forth. So I walked out with a “receipt” that said I would be taxed on the $262,000 amount.
I steamed a little on my drive home in commuter traffic. I am 100% sure that the ARB members are worn down by a job that involves handling ticked off people all of the time. I just wish they would have at least attempted to act like they actually cared about what I was saying. My hubby thinks that they may have ignored my actual evidence, but the HCAD guy might have made the realistic settlement offer because of all of it. That’s a nice thought – that I had made some difference.
Now I’m moving on. Except I still have an outstanding protest waiting for an iFile settlement offer for our rental home…GRRRR…
Have you ever protested your property appraisal? How did it work out?
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!