Travis County bush
Friday, March 13, 2020 by Jessi Devenyns

Commissioners Court to facilitate talks in disagreement between ABoR and TCAD

TCAD Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler told the Travis County Commissioners Court on March 10 that despite receiving a cease-and-desist order to stop collecting third-party sales data, her office is still working to acquire the necessary data to accurately appraise home values in Travis County.

On Feb. 14, Crigler announced that the Travis Central Appraisal District was freezing home appraisals for 2020 because the Austin Board of Realtors had prevented the department from acquiring the necessary sales information through third parties. Crigler told county commissioners that the lack of access has resulted in the appraisal district only obtaining 15 percent of area sales data.

While home values in Travis County will remain static for 2020, county commissioners voiced their concern for future years. Commissioner Brigid Shea said if ABoR continues to block TCAD’s access to third-party sales data, it could “foul up the whole process” for home appraising, and by extension, taxation.

Commissioner Gerald Daugherty said that while residents will likely not be perturbed by flat appraisals this year, 2021 and beyond will be a shock to the system if the two organizations don’t reach a consensus. To avoid prolonging this feud between ABoR and TCAD, Daugherty suggested the Commissioners Court “drag” ABoR members and TCAD appraisal staff into discussions to settle the debate. “This is a huge deal,” he said. “This needs to really be worked on.”

Shea proposed a resolution calling on ABoR to allow third-party sales data to be shared with TCAD. Instead, the court chose to pursue diplomatic talks before resorting to a formalized request.

A spokesperson for ABoR told the Austin Monitor the two entities met in recent weeks. However, in the statement sent to the Monitor, ABoR said it is willing to meet again with community and elected officials but maintained its stance on providing MLS sales data. “We want to be clear that the aggregate data we make publicly available and have offered to Travis Central Appraisal District (TCAD) is the full extent of the data the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) can provide while maintaining our commitments to our members and their clients and adhering to our rules.”

ABoR offered to provide TCAD with aggregate sales data by ZIP code to do an across-the-board increase in values. However, Crigler said that to increase home values, the appraisal district requires access to individual sales data. “It would be illegal for us to change the market value without having the data to support those changes,” she explained.

County commissioners agreed that home values cannot be accurately assessed without sales data. “(The Travis Central Appraisal District) is in a fight where they’ve got one hand tied behind them,” Daugherty said.

Daugherty and Crigler pointed out that this is the first year ABoR has put up resistance to TCAD accessing third-party data. After ABoR sent a cease-and-desist letter to TCAD last May, Crigler told the Commissioners Court that the organization told other third-party entities, including title companies and lenders, not to provide sales information to the appraisal district. The appraisal district had a three-year contract with CoreLogic to provide sales data through 2021. ABoR instructed the company not to provide sales data information going forward.

Crigler noted that Travis County was the only district to receive a cease-and-desist order to stop collecting third-party sales data.

In a public statement released Feb. 27, ABoR said, “TCAD updated area appraisals for many years without use of MLS data.”

County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said ABoR did not recognize the full implications of preventing access to this information. “It’s not to our collective advantage to have inaccurate appraisals,” she said, pointing to surrounding school districts’ serious loss of revenue as one of the most tangible consequences of having static home values for 2020.

In a statement emailed to the Monitor, the Austin Board of Realtors said, “We are hopeful that the appraisal district will move forward with its appraisals so as to not have a negative impact on the school districts that depend on tax revenues to effectively educate our children.”

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin Board of Realtors: The Austin Board of Realtors is an 8600-member organization for real estate agents in the city. It maintains the city's Member Listing Service (MLS) database. ABoR is also a charter member of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation. As such, they have donated CoTMF. CoTMF is the parent organization of the Austin Monitor.

Travis Central Appraisal District: The tax appraisal district for Travis County.

Travis County Commissioners Court: The legislative body for Travis County. It includes representatives from the four Travis County Precincts, as well as the County Judge. The County Judge serves as the chair of the Court.

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