So like many of you all, I have received my property tax assessment for 2017 and like many of you my reactions can be summed up in three letter... WTF!! As I drove into work this morning I was listening to the Trey Ware Show on 550 KTSA and he had Mayor Taylor on, and she was even addressing the issue stating she is doing her best to control the costs at the city to keep that portion of our taxes lower. She went on to say we need legislative relief and I think that is a fair statement as well.
I think the point that they are missing is that there is something we can do... We can protest our assessed values. No, I am not talking about getting a group together with goofy signs and rhyming chants, but actually go to the county and protest the amount that we are being assessed on the property value we have.
Part of the issue with the rising tax rate is nobody fights back and nobody thinks we can do anything about it, but honestly you can protest and it is good for your property to do so. Not only are your saving money every year by protesting your taxes, you are also creating value when it comes time to sell your property. Picture that you and the house across the street are priced the same and are identical, if they have a lower tax rate the buyers are going to look across the street because it has added value in the lower tax rate. Now I know that the house across the street isn't identical, but the argument still stands that you can create value compared to the other homes in the neighborhood.
How can you protest your taxes?
1. Pay Someone - well yeah that doesn't seem like fun and that isn't a service I am offering as of yet. A Property Tax Consultant is a person who is licensed by the state to protest taxes. Typically they will charge a flat rate and/or a percentage of the amount they reduce your bill by. This is great if you don't have the time or if you have a very expensive property.
2. Do it yourself - so this seems a little scary but it isn't that difficult and I did mine in about 30 minutes or so. You can go to the Bexar Country Appraisal Website and they have a 6-minute video on the basics of how to navigate their website and how to protest the value. You will need to make a case on why you think the value of your home is too high, or unequally priced compared to other. I can provided you with a free Market Analysis for your property, and this will get you into a ballpark of the Market Value of your home. Now the information I give you is not exactly what the tax assessor is going to use but it should get you close knowing what properties they likely used to come up with your value or if they just raised it a set amount. Once you submit, you will have the option to ask for their backup. This is the information I would keep and look at each year and use them to compare against year over year. This print out is overwhelming because it has a ton of data, but slowly read through it and figure out where they are getting their value and that is what you want to disprove. What I have noticed, especially with commercial buildings, is that they just raise them all and hope nobody protests them, and the few that do, usually sees some type of reduction.
Keep in mind, I am only a real estate agent and I am not a Property Tax Consultant, while there are some similarities in what we do on the research side of things, there are specifics that I am not qualified to advise on and each County will have different standards they use and their are strategies that those who do this professionally have that I do not. This post is to only give you the knowledge that there are options to protest and a highlevel overview of that process.