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Hays County home appraisal values up for 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015 by Kim Hilsenbeck

Hays County residents started seeing their annual notice of home appraisals in the mail this week. The Hays Central Appraisal District started sending out the notices — more than 76,000 of them — May 1.

And some homeowners are not happy about what those letters say.

Yvonne Flores-Cale responded to the Hays Free Press in a Facebook post about the 2015 appraisals, writing, “Holy Guacamole! Ours went (up) 30,000. We have done zero updates to this house. I will be protesting this FOR SURE!”

The appraisals are preliminary. Property owners have until June 1 to file a protest to the Appraisal Review Board if they want to appeal.

A Central Texas commercial appraiser who works in Travis County and owns a home in Hays County said he thinks there is going to be a lot of public outcry about the notices this year.

Why? Because Hays County’s overall 2015 preliminary market value is $19.56 billion, up 14.9 percent from $17.03 billion in 2014.

That means that while only one local taxing entity, Austin Community College, raised its tax rates with voter approval, overall property values have increased, according to the appraisal district.

More property tax money will be funneled into local coffers — including municipalities, Hays County, school districts, fire and emergency services, and the Austin Community College program for students in the Hays Consolidated Independent School District — as a result.

For example, if the property tax rate on a $200,000 home were $0.52 in Kyle, it would be $0.52 for every $100 of assessed valuation. That homeowner would pay $1,040. However, if the home appraises at $220,000 — even if taxes remain at $0.52 per $100 valuation — the homeowner would pay $1,144 in property taxes to the city.

The commercial appraiser, who did not want to provide his name because of his job, said 
he thinks that many more Hays County residents will protest their appraisals — and indeed thinks they should — once they see the increase.

He believes the problem is that homes have not been fairly assessed over the years, and now the state is pushing to make sure all counties are equalized.

Jenna Harper wrote on Facebook, “Protest always. Many people believe it will lower your property value when you are ready to sell but that is not true. I use a company in Houston to protest every year and they have produced a small tax savings. The taxes are really high. We moved out here to escape the high tax rates and now they are higher than the Austin taxes!”

Across Hays County, the average market value for homes increased 12.4 percent.

In an emailed response about the appraisals, Buda real estate agent R. Victoria Peterson of Team Aston said, “The real estate market has made a recovery. Therefore, due to typical supply and demand issues, we have also experienced
 an increase in property values as a result.”

She added, “Many property owners are unhappy about the increase. However, many properties have not been accurately appraised … throughout the past and property owners have been paying less in property taxes than actually warranted. It looks like the county is increasing the assessed values to try to be more in line with market value in some cases.”

David Valle, chief appraiser for Hays County, said homeowners who want to appeal their appraisal on the basis that it are not equitable would need to find a reasonable number of similar properties, then adjust for any differences between those homes and their own.

“If the value per square foot of their property is above the median price per square foot of the adjusted comparables, it would be considered unequal,” he wrote in an emailed response.

Property owners who want to protest their appraised values must file by either June 
1 or 30 days after the district mailed the notice, whichever is later.

Last year, the Hays Central Appraisal District received 8,678 protests. Of those, 7,072 were settled, and 1,606 moved 
to the formal hearing phase. According to data from Valle, 966 appraisals were changed by the Appraisal Review Board, 65 stayed the same (no change) and 575 are unsettled (no show).

In terms of documentation needed to prove inequity, Valle said property value information is on the Hays County CAD website.


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