Fighting property taxes the good old fashioned way

It’s that time of year when we get those little pieces of paper in the mail that shows a huge increase in the appraisal value of your home from your county appraisal office. Also in the mail will be instructions for filing an online protest. I have protested both ways and I feel the most effective way is by going in person. The county appraisal office uses its own appraisers to appraise each and every property in its county to determine what a fair market value would be for the subject property. They use comparable’s in the marketplace and general trends. Their information may be limited so it’s up to you to inform them what’s going on in or around the home.

Fighting Strategies:

  • Home Repairs Needed to Sell

There is a big difference between living in a home and selling a home. We tend to live in conditions that would generally hurt the resale of the home if we would list our home on the market. Every day we have forces all around us trying to take our hard earned money for goods and services we deem needs at the time but in the process, we may let items that need our attention go by the waist side.  This could be several different things; a huge crack in the foundation that could be in need of repair, your roof may be leaking, interior wall repair and painting may be needed, or the flooring may need to be replaced. Any one or combination of these could range from $2,000 to $30,000. All of these items need to be considered when fighting your property taxes. Pretend you are putting your home for sale, go room to room making a list of repairs that would be needed (different from wanted). Then based on past work and any estimates (new and old) write down the estimated cost of each repair. This is your ammo, these are the numbers you bring to the appraisal office to lower your appraised market value. They may not take your word for granted so be sure to bring photos as proof that these repairs are needed.

  • Apples to Apples or Apples to Oranges

Before you file your protest be sure to ask a realtor for some comp’s (comparable’s) on your home. This way you can take a look at what homes are going for around you per square foot. After you get the list from your realtor take a look at your comp’s and some of the features of the properties. Write down differences between your home and the comps, such differences could be items such as the comp’s are in cul-de-sac’s and you live on a through street. With all your notes on all the comp’s from your realtor, you should be able to meet with the county appraiser and argue with the comparable’s they have identified. Maybe the county appraisers are looking at the wrong comparable’s and need to refocus on different properties.

  • CDU (condition, desirability, and utility)

CDU is a term that a county appraiser uses to grade properties. They use this grade to help estimate the properties. For instance, we have a bustling day care as our back neighbor and throughout the day you can hear children’s laughter and crying. This is not an ideal resale situation so the CDU should be adjusted to a different grade as a home with four neighbors (homes). If that example doesn’t illustrate the point then imagine if you lived next to a big international airport and had planes taking off and landing over your home daily. If you have a situation similar to living next to an airport or a commercial business that would potentially hurt resell and this is a strategy you should pursue. This is not something you can adjust on your own. So you need to sit down with a county appraiser and ask how their grading system works for that county and plead your case for an adjusted CDU.  A newly adjusted CDU value would help keep taxes lower compared to other homes who are under normal living conditions in future years.

In the end, it has been my experience that the county appraisers are not evil people. If you do a little bit of work on one of these strategies then you should see some leeway from the estimated appraisal they initially performed. You may not get exactly what you want but you may find some middle ground together.



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