Here’s part of a post I wrote for our HermitsBuyHouses blog. It’s been popular over there, so I thought I would share it here and then go into more detail:
Here in Texas, and maybe where you are, too, we just got our yearly property tax bills. We’re used to them going up. In fact, the appraised value of the house we just moved out of, in Williamson County, Texas, went up by $30K! That’s quite an increase, you may be thinking.
But wait, there’s more! We bought a house last year in Milam County, Texas. It’s true; we did make improvements to the house. We painted the exterior, put down new laminate flooring, fixed some broken windows, and trimmed a tree. Sure, that probably increased the value of the house. However, it went from a $39K appraisal to $190K! I guarantee you no one in this town would pay that much for a house with ancient kitchen and bathroom on the main drag, no matter how nice the paint is! Yes, we are going to protest that! Of course, we want to pay for schools and such, so we are happy to pay, just not more than the house is worth.
What if we were on a fixed income and our house’s taxable value went up like that? As I mentioned before, it has been known to happen. If you live around Austin, it may even be happening to you or a loved one.
We can’t figure out what got into the tax assessor’s head to give the idea that the house would ever be worth that much, even if we fixed the kitchen and bathrooms! It’s a small, old house on a main road in a very small town. Perhaps they think that, because we’re not from here, we’d think that’s normal. We’re sure there’s a system, but we don’t know what it is.
We filed the protest on the house yesterday, and if necessary we will go to a hearing and explain our side. In the protest we said the house is now on the market for $70K, and we had only done minimal improvements. We will have to get an independent appraisal done, to show them, etc. This will take some time and effort on our part (on Lee’s part, really).
If we were in a larger county, we could have used a professional company to do the protesting for us (Texas Protax is the one in the Austin and Houston areas of Texas). They do take a large portion of your savings as their fee, but in many cases it’s worth the savings in time and effort. Unfortunately, there’s no service like that in Milam County. So, Lee will have to do the legwork himself. It will be worth it!
We’re just curious. Have any of you had a house whose tax appraisal went up by this degree?