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missjanel

Property Tax Protest Services

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I have always protested my own property taxes but now that I no longer live in Houston it's just not feasible for me to do it myself. Can someone recommend a company that protests on your behalf. Obviously O'Connor being the largest. I'm just looking for suggestions from people who have actually used one of these services.

Thanks!

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I have always protested my own property taxes but now that I no longer live in Houston it's just not feasible for me to do it myself. Can someone recommend a company that protests on your behalf. Obviously O'Connor being the largest. I'm just looking for suggestions from people who have actually used one of these services.

Thanks!

I'd have to recommend O'Connor. Our house is one of 12 houses that were built at the same time, have similar SF and really should all be appraised at similar levels. O'Connor got us in at 12K less than the next lowest appraisal in that group.

Edited by west20th

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I'd have to recommend O'Connor. Our house is one of 12 houses that were built at the same time, have similar SF and really should all be appraised at similar levels. O'Connor got us in at 12K less than the next lowest appraisal in that group.

So that was your trick! Maybe we'll do that this year since we only live a few feet away...

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So that was your trick! Maybe we'll do that this year since we only live a few feet away...

They are worth a try. I noticed everyone's house on the block is still "pending". Pretty late in the year for that. I have a feeling that HCAD is going to try to maximize everyone's appraisal this year.

Edit: I was wrong about being 12K less than all of the houses. The first house (nearest to Shepherd) has always been under-appraised, they are now appraised about 50K less than most on the block. Back when the houses were first appraised they were about 80K less than the others. Most likely a mistake on HCAD's part but I'm sure that was the argument O'Connor used to get our evaluation lowered.

Edited by west20th

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I would be very wary of O'Connor. I used them once a few years ago and it was fine. The problem is they won't go away after that. They assume that you then wish to use them every year in perpetuity, and unless you show up and the office with a written demand they will continue to invoice you in perpetuity. Even when they have a written discontinuation notice it will then get "lost" and they will bill you again. Extremely frustrating to deal with.

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I noticed everyone's house on the block is still "pending". Pretty late in the year for that. I have a feeling that HCAD is going to try to maximize everyone's appraisal this year.

Over half of the homes on my block have new numbers and half are still pending. Every one of the 2010 numbers is identical to 2009. It appears that your feelings may not be in tune. Look for a number to come in identical to last year, unless your 2009 was a steal, in which case they may try to equalize with the rest of the block.

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Over half of the homes on my block have new numbers and half are still pending. Every one of the 2010 numbers is identical to 2009. It appears that your feelings may not be in tune. Look for a number to come in identical to last year, unless your 2009 was a steal, in which case they may try to equalize with the rest of the block.

Ditto. Mine went up $28. I can handle that w/o protesting.

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Ditto. Mine went up $28. I can handle that w/o protesting.

Still check the comps to see if there's a case to be made for the values decreasing.

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Along these lines, has anyone protested using the online iSettle feature on HCAD with any success? When we bought our house last August, HCAD decided to automatically bump up the 2009 appraised value to the selling price (i didn't realize they could do that in the middle of the year). Now, they are saying that the value has increased 15K in those few months. I don't want to get stuck in some perpetual contract with some property tax consulting company like a bad magazine subscription you can't seem to cancel.

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I would be very wary of O'Connor. I used them once a few years ago and it was fine. The problem is they won't go away after that. They assume that you then wish to use them every year in perpetuity, and unless you show up and the office with a written demand they will continue to invoice you in perpetuity. Even when they have a written discontinuation notice it will then get "lost" and they will bill you again. Extremely frustrating to deal with.

Good point. In my case I want them to protest on my behalf every year. I don't have the time or patience to deal with HCAD. Another thing to consider is price. O'Connor charges 50% of what they save you each year. There may be others that don't take as big a chunk for their services.

Edited by west20th

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Along these lines, has anyone protested using the online iSettle feature on HCAD with any success? When we bought our house last August, HCAD decided to automatically bump up the 2009 appraised value to the selling price (i didn't realize they could do that in the middle of the year). Now, they are saying that the value has increased 15K in those few months. I don't want to get stuck in some perpetual contract with some property tax consulting company like a bad magazine subscription you can't seem to cancel.

HCAD may adjust your value up or down during the year, but their estimate is tied to the previous January 1st. More recent comps can't hurt you.

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HCAD may adjust your value up or down during the year, but their estimate is tied to the previous January 1st. More recent comps can't hurt you.

Any idea how to see that Jan 1, 2009 value? The HCAD website shows the selling price for 2009 (saying value as of Jan 1, 2009). I know this to be false, though, since the original appraised value for 2009 was under what we paid.

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Along these lines, has anyone protested using the online iSettle feature on HCAD with any success? When we bought our house last August, HCAD decided to automatically bump up the 2009 appraised value to the selling price (i didn't realize they could do that in the middle of the year). Now, they are saying that the value has increased 15K in those few months. I don't want to get stuck in some perpetual contract with some property tax consulting company like a bad magazine subscription you can't seem to cancel.

I used iSettle two years ago and had problems - as in I had to wait for months and months, only to be told I had to come in person anyway. Last year I used it again and used three or four concise, clear examples in the section they give you to present your case. I basically attacked them on comp appraisals, comp sales prices, basically anything I could get my hands on. Actually, what was very useful is that some of these protest services actually send you a flier with decent comps (which are hard to find in my case). Anyway, HCAD got back within weeks last time and virtually matched my own assessment

If you bought your house last August, protesting and presenting your sales price should be simple enough to knock off that $15K. I had a similar situation when I bought back in 2006 and they were pretty agreeable when I protested. You will probably have a tough time getting anything below that, thoug

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Thanks ... yeah, i doubt i can get it under the selling price, but a match will do just fine.

I'll be sure to post back here with my results....

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Any idea how to see that Jan 1, 2009 value? The HCAD website shows the selling price for 2009 (saying value as of Jan 1, 2009). I know this to be false, though, since the original appraised value for 2009 was under what we paid.

HCAD keeps track of changes to appraised values, so if you wanted to get a history of the value, it is possible to request that from them.

It sounds like you may have intentionally or unintentionally provided them with your sale price. You should only do that if it helps you. If so, then fighting it could be difficult at this point, but a match to your purchase price is a request that they'll be amenable to. You might also try arguing for an unequal appraisal with other properties in your neighborhood.

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It sounds like you may have intentionally or unintentionally provided them with your sale price.

Try them knocking on my door a couple months after the sale and saying "I'm so and so with the city of Houston. Did you pay $xxxxxx for your property?" (with $xxxx being the exact amount that I paid). Maybe I should have plead the 5th, but i'm an honest guy and said yeah. I knew even at the time that it was all sort of strange -- I never knew they did that sort of thing, although I think we got a letter in the mail from the city asking us to provide that info (I'm sure that letter is sitting around somewhere still). Anyway, I'm going to shoot for having it reduced to the selling price. The savings should buy me and the missus a nice dinner at o' them fancy restaurants that have been opening up here in the Heights (or maybe a large bar tab at Onion Creek since we can walk there).

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I have always protested my own property taxes but now that I no longer live in Houston it's just not feasible for me to do it myself. Can someone recommend a company that protests on your behalf. Obviously O'Connor being the largest. I'm just looking for suggestions from people who have actually used one of these services.

Thanks!

Missjanel, If you are not in the larger metro area any longer, then tax protests are a cinch, and very easy. I lived in one of the smaller counties around Harris county for many years, and never had a problem with tax protests. All I had to do is go in during the appointment times, and drink some coffee, and talk to the reps, who were very nice, and professional. If you want to use these services I would surely check their BBB rating first. I have always considered it a priviledge to be able to defend myself, by myself.

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Missjanel, If you are not in the larger metro area any longer, then tax protests are a cinch, and very easy. I lived in one of the smaller counties around Harris county for many years, and never had a problem with tax protests. All I had to do is go in during the appointment times, and drink some coffee, and talk to the reps, who were very nice, and professional. If you want to use these services I would surely check their BBB rating first. I have always considered it a priviledge to be able to defend myself, by myself.

If I lived closer I would surely save myself the expense of using a protest service. But I'm in Dallas and a 5 hour car ride with a 1 year old only to end my day arguing with the asshats at HCAD would surely make me a deranged lunatic. I want to try a service this year and if it doesn't work out then I can always go back to protesting my own taxes next year. Obviously I'm looking to save myself from needing a padded room but at the same time I'm curious if a service could actually make a better case than I am able to do myself. Last year I had cold hard evidence which was ignored thus I was only able to get my value down half of what I thought the reduction should be. FWIW I'm not arguing how nice the house is. My protest is based soley on the value of the lot. For which several other lots on the same street which are identical in size are valued much lower.

I'm still looking for recommendations if anybody has used O'Connor or any other protest service firm.

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Can someone recommend a company that protests on your behalf. Obviously O'Connor being the largest. I'm just looking for suggestions from people who have actually used one of these services.

We now use AppealPropertyTax.com and have been very pleased with them. We used O'Connor for a couple of years, but got only minor reductions, while noticing that a neighbor who used AppealPropertyTax.com was getting much deeper reductions.

Moreover, O'Connor was charging us 50% of whatever they saved us, while AppealPropertyTax.com charges just 33%. Save me more on my taxes and charge me less to do it? I'm there! B)

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I'm surprised that no one has recommended Bettencourt & Assoc. yet. What's the scoop?

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I filed an iProtest and just put our August purchase price.

If I have to go in person I will take comps.

Anyone have experience with your escrow? Because 2009 had no Homestead exemption (previous owner had a renter) + our appraised value is $20k too high = our projected 2010 property taxes are way higher than they will be and our mortgage got jacked up. When our value gets lowered is there any chance they will re-analyze our escrow?

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Escrow is recalculated yearly. The method of calculation is included in your new escrow notice, or can probably be found on your mortgage company's website.

Edited by RedScare

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Escrow is recalculated yearly. The method of calculation is included in your new escrow notice, or can probably be found on your mortgage company's website.

As it stands our projected tax bill is $1600 more for 2010 than it will actually be (2009 was an inflated appraised value and did not have a homestead exemption). I am hoping once the protest process is through my mortgage company will reanalyze our escrow.

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They are worth a try. I noticed everyone's house on the block is still "pending". Pretty late in the year for that. I have a feeling that HCAD is going to try to maximize everyone's appraisal this year.

Edit: I was wrong about being 12K less than all of the houses. The first house (nearest to Shepherd) has always been under-appraised, they are now appraised about 50K less than most on the block. Back when the houses were first appraised they were about 80K less than the others. Most likely a mistake on HCAD's part but I'm sure that was the argument O'Connor used to get our evaluation lowered.

Damn, they got us this year, all of us (10% for ours, looks about the same for most). The ones down at the end who were skirting by at 50k under got bumped 10% too, I assume that HCAD's plan is to keep doing this until they catch up. I think the market values they list are a pretty good indicator this is how it will go. This might be the year we decide to protest. It's odd, this year they decided to keep land the same and bump the improvements? In my experience the improvements value should lower each year until it is a pile of rubble, but I guess that's the number they can fudge easiest. Whatever.

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It's odd, this year they decided to keep land the same and bump the improvements? In my experience the improvements value should lower each year until it is a pile of rubble, but I guess that's the number they can fudge easiest. Whatever.

Improvements can theoretically increase in value if their replacement cost increases dramatically. But that was a 2006-2008 phenomenon. It's over.

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