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It's That Time - Property Appraisal Advice Needed


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that's what it sounds like....you'll most likely be making two trips.

That's what I thought as well - I guess I get the first round since there was no iSettle offer. Man, iSettle really expedited the whole process! I'm glad it took them 4 flippin' months to come back with nothing

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You can skip the first meeting, and show up for the second with no problem.

you better verify that cause i know someone who didn't show up and their's was settled for them. they usually don't even schedule you to go to the board til you go to meet with the appraiser the first time.

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WTF? Here is my response from iSettle:

So all of this waiting (4 months) for nothing? I thought had a pretty compelling iFile, but I guess not... Does this mean I get an informal meeting first after all?

I got the same letter. That was fun. Anyway, I just finished with the informal and they put back down within the 10% raise. I'm still higher than many, but much lower than where they had me at. Not going onto the board.

But that isettle thing is silly. I really don't know what that was all about and I won't use it again. It would have been easier to protest while the kids were in school, rather than dragging them with me in July.

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This was my first time protesting (as it was my first time owning a home) We went today for our informal hearing with all of our comps, spreadsheets, pictures, etc. They had raised our market value by over 20k. The appraiser asked us if we just bought the house and what we paid for it. We told him we bought it last year for x dollars. He then said, well that is what we can lower the market value to. This was almost a 40K difference from the HCAD market this year to the market he came down to. He ended up going a little lower by multiplying it by the HISD number. We ended up with a large drop in market value just by spending 5 minutes with him and a few hours doing comps.

What a Racket!!

Do they purposefully increase the new home sales by a lot while their is no exemption in hope that people wil not protest?

We are really glad we protested ourselves and did not pay someone, as we were going to, to do if for us.

What a Racket.

Good luck

Kevin

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That's what I thought as well - I guess I get the first round since there was no iSettle offer. Man, iSettle really expedited the whole process! I'm glad it took them 4 flippin' months to come back with nothing

That's not necessarily a bad thing. By having your meetings later, you can review how your neighbors did. More info for you means better prepared to negotiate.

I had my informal a few weeks back. Since I was the last meeting of the day, my informal appraiser and I chatted for about 20 minutes. A few tips:

Don't go in angry, sarcastic or otherwise disagreeable. The adjuster has some latitude, but if you annoy them with the conspiracy or government ripoff talk, they will use that latitude to aim high. Is your anti-government rant that important to you?

Understand how property appraisal works. For all its problems, HCAD does have a sound basis for fundamental appraisals. The problem is they are trying to efficiently appraise a million parcels. They understand this and will adjust the numbers where appropriate. However, you must have a basis for your request. In my case, I did not protest the value for the land, as they had good information on that. I DID protest the valuation of the structure (house and garage) and they gave me every dollar I asked for, even though their number suggested it should be $5,000 to 7,000 higher. Why? Because I was knowledgeable and reasonable, in addition to first tip above.

While land values are often non-negotiable, the structure generally is. If you have done no work on your home in the last year, point that out and argue that the value of the house should be no higher than the year before, and probably should be a little lower due to depreciation. This should limit the increase to land appreciation only, which is the source of most increased appraisals anyway.

Understand that because this stuff is not very specific, you'll probably have to return next year to protest again. But, it should be short and sweet, as the same issues tend to repeat. I've protested on the same issues every year, and only the land valuation has stung me. BTW, Heights residents, be prepared for another land increase next year, to $35-37 per square foot.

Hope that helps.

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That's not necessarily a bad thing. By having your meetings later, you can review how your neighbors did. More info for you means better prepared to negotiate.

I had my informal a few weeks back. Since I was the last meeting of the day, my informal appraiser and I chatted for about 20 minutes. A few tips:

Don't go in angry, sarcastic or otherwise disagreeable. The adjuster has some latitude, but if you annoy them with the conspiracy or government ripoff talk, they will use that latitude to aim high. Is your anti-government rant that important to you?

Understand how property appraisal works. For all its problems, HCAD does have a sound basis for fundamental appraisals. The problem is they are trying to efficiently appraise a million parcels. They understand this and will adjust the numbers where appropriate. However, you must have a basis for your request. In my case, I did not protest the value for the land, as they had good information on that. I DID protest the valuation of the structure (house and garage) and they gave me every dollar I asked for, even though their number suggested it should be $5,000 to 7,000 higher. Why? Because I was knowledgeable and reasonable, in addition to first tip above.

While land values are often non-negotiable, the structure generally is. If you have done no work on your home in the last year, point that out and argue that the value of the house should be no higher than the year before, and probably should be a little lower due to depreciation. This should limit the increase to land appreciation only, which is the source of most increased appraisals anyway.

Understand that because this stuff is not very specific, you'll probably have to return next year to protest again. But, it should be short and sweet, as the same issues tend to repeat. I've protested on the same issues every year, and only the land valuation has stung me. BTW, Heights residents, be prepared for another land increase next year, to $35-37 per square foot.

Hope that helps.

Good post - thanks for the tips. Sounds as if I might have a decent basis for protest, since the value of my structure went up 40% over the year before (no improvements, either), while there was virtually no change to land value.

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I sent in my ifile/isettle ten minutes after the letter hit the mailbox.

I got a slightly different email response today:

Dear Property Owner: This is to let you know that we are still working on the 2008 protest you filed using HCAD's iFile system. Since you protested the value of a residential property and elected to participate in our online iSettle process, we may be able to make you an iSettle offer via e-mail. Whether or not we are able to make an iSettle offer, you will receive e-mail notification from the appraisal district.

If we are unable to make an offer, the Appraisal Review Board (ARB) will send you a notice by regular U.S. mail advising the date, time and place of your protest hearing. Scheduling notices are mailed at least 14 days prior to the formal hearing date. In either case, at the time you receive an iSettle offer or an ARB scheduling notice, you will be able to log into HCAD's iFile system to review our evidence on your property.

If you have questions, e-mail iSettle@hcad.org. Please include your account number and iFile Number for account verification.

Jim Robinson

Chief Appraiser

Harris County Appraisal District

Great

As usual they will schedule my meeting when I am not going to be available. :angry:

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you better verify that cause i know someone who didn't show up and their's was settled for them. they usually don't even schedule you to go to the board til you go to meet with the appraiser the first time.

Last year they sent me scheduling info for the informal and formal hearings in one envelope. I called down there to tell them I wasn't going to do the informal, and they told me to just skip it and show up for the formal, no need to call. They may have changed it for this year. *shrug*

As usual they will schedule my meeting when I am not going to be available. :angry:

Call and re-schedule it for later in the year.

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That's not necessarily a bad thing. By having your meetings later, you can review how your neighbors did.

Not only can you review how they did, but you can use their lowered values as the basis for an unequal appraisal protest. Best way to do it is to download HCAD's data sets from pdata.hcad.org (be sure to check the extract date on the data set), pull the data for your neighborhood into Excel, do some Excel-Fu to normalize all the properties to your property, then pick the 5 comparable homes with the lowest normalized values. You can get a spreadsheet that will do the calculations for you here.

The process I've outlined above is the same process that O'Connor uses when they generate the letter/analysis they send you every year.

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I just saw my 2008 appraisal on HCAD website. I own a small bungalow w/garage apt in Montrose and I rent both out. My appraised (market) value just went up 25% for no good reason to the value waaaay above anything I could sell that property for. I will definitely protest. I have several possible pathways to pursue in my protest:

1) Unequal appraisal: a similar house around the corner (similar street, larger lot) is appraised at 60% of mine solely because of land value: mine is assessed at $57 per foot while the other house at $35 per foot of land.

2) I just had mortgage refinanced and the bank appraised the property at about 80% of what HCAD thinks it is worth

3) Try to find "comparables" via MLS (either through a realtor or by going to HCAD)

4) Try to go by rental income

The most beneficial way is definitely the land value approach but I am not sure that it will work. And if it does not, could I bring up other arguments later in the hearing? Does anyone have experience/suggestions?

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I just saw my 2008 appraisal on HCAD website. I own a small bungalow w/garage apt in Montrose and I rent both out. My appraised (market) value just went up 25% for no good reason to the value waaaay above anything I could sell that property for. I will definitely protest. I have several possible pathways to pursue in my protest:

1) Unequal appraisal: a similar house around the corner (similar street, larger lot) is appraised at 60% of mine solely because of land value: mine is assessed at $57 per foot while the other house at $35 per foot of land.

2) I just had mortgage refinanced and the bank appraised the property at about 80% of what HCAD thinks it is worth

3) Try to find "comparables" via MLS (either through a realtor or by going to HCAD)

4) Try to go by rental income

The most beneficial way is definitely the land value approach but I am not sure that it will work. And if it does not, could I bring up other arguments later in the hearing? Does anyone have experience/suggestions?

I noticed ,the best way to get through to those people is to back your argument with plenty of PROOF-Lots of pictures, HAR printouts comparisons(e.g. one's remodeled,added on to, landscaped, improved,needs maintenance and one's not). It is mostly based on recent sales and unless you bought it in the last yr. or two; I don't think they will care about anything to do with rent or financing. See 'har.com'.10% rule if you've owned for more than a year. Mine made me want to cry too and I can protest two this year. keep in mind that Houston's housing market is on of the strongest in the nation. Eventhough our number sale droppped-our sale price increased. It was in the news today.

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I used the ---& Associates info.they sent to help prepare my protest. Every once in a while,they'll send a printout(comparison) with a handwritten note-Your property value is too high. Keep in mind their fee is very expensive for what you can do yourself eventhough they seem so convenient. I always wondered how effective they are compared with if you put more effort than them to prove. I noticed on the screen in the HCAD building that a LOT of people use those 2 companies. Don't remember if I'm allowed to name names here.

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Cool, a link to downloadable data. Just what I've been looking for. I knew there was a reason to install SQL Server on my laptop. HCAD continues to be one of the best agencies around for providing data.

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2) I just had mortgage refinanced and the bank appraised the property at about 80% of what HCAD thinks it is worth

Try to go as low as possible, but if all else fails, a recent (within the past year) independent appraisal should be the highest you'll have to settle for.

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  • 6 months later...

Hi...we just had informal hearing today....appraised value was $200K more that Market....Anyway long story short,we did NOT accept their new calcuation which on

only lowered it by a few dollars...so we go to formal hearing in a few weeks. My husband has a file full of organized information for our case but they barely want to hear

it...Does anyone have any tips for the FORMAL BOARD HEARING.. We have 15 mins.....Hope we can make our case....

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Does anyone have any tips for the FORMAL BOARD HEARING.. We have 15 mins.....Hope we can make our case....

make sure and have all your required copies so it will go smoothly and quickly. while i say having a logical argument is the best, some years i'm convinced it doesn't help. hopefully you have some good sales data from the prior full yr and your board thinks logically.

this yr actually went pretty well for me. the HCAD rep presented some similar houses (5 i think) to mine but i had more data than was presented by HCAD. they asked the HCAD rep whether his houses were on my list and were accurate. he said yes which was a good indication that i didn't present false information.

remember that your pics can't be verified by the board so the worse you can make it look the better.

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Hi...we just had informal hearing today....appraised value was $200K more that Market....Anyway long story short,we did NOT accept their new calcuation which on

only lowered it by a few dollars...so we go to formal hearing in a few weeks. My husband has a file full of organized information for our case but they barely want to hear

it...Does anyone have any tips for the FORMAL BOARD HEARING.. We have 15 mins.....Hope we can make our case....

$200k more than actual market value? That should be SUPER easy to prove....if it is actually true.

You need cold, hard facts. The best facts to present are sales figures for houses which are virtually identical to your home, which may be problematic in the heights due to the wide variety of houses, lot sizes, and conditions of surrounding properties. The second best facts to present are HCAD's own market (NOT APPRAISED) values to houses which are virtually identical to yours.

The more different the houses you're comparing yours to, the weaker your case will be.

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Just noticed this on the HCAD web site - now that property values are dropping, they will not be doing a mass re-appraisal in 2009.

For the past several years, including 2008, HCAD has operated on an annual reappraisal cycle. Beginning in 2009, we will switch to a biennial cycle. We will continue to review the values of all properties each year, but in odd-numbered years such as 2009, will only make those value changes necessitated by new construction, unusual market conditions, or to maintain equity.

In the case of properties that change in value or have new ownership, a regular notice of appraised value will be mailed after 2009 values are complete (usually March or April). For properties on which there is no 2009 value change, even though the law doesn

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Just noticed this on the HCAD web site - now that property values are dropping, they will not be doing a mass re-appraisal in 2009.

Why, imagine that! I am shocked! Shocked!

They must be under enormous pressure to hold the line on appraisal values this year.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Why, imagine that! I am shocked! Shocked!

They must be under enormous pressure to hold the line on appraisal values this year.

Curious.. I suppose if HCAD raise property rates the typical 10% per house this year, more people will come to protest rather than just holding the line.. I suspect it will cause significant de-evaluation after protesting..

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Just noticed this on the HCAD web site - now that property values are dropping, they will not be doing a mass re-appraisal in 2009.

For the past several years, including 2008, HCAD has operated on an annual reappraisal cycle. Beginning in 2009, we will switch to a biennial cycle. We will continue to review the values of all properties each year, but in odd-numbered years such as 2009, will only make those value changes necessitated by new construction, unusual market conditions, or to maintain equity.

In the case of properties that change in value or have new ownership, a regular notice of appraised value will be mailed after 2009 values are complete (usually March or April). For properties on which there is no 2009 value change, even though the law doesn

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  • 1 month later...
Should I also try and find the permit for the 2004 work that was done that they are claiming as a 'total' renovation? Does the city keep a record of historical permits? I wish I knew the actual definitions they use for 'Total', 'Extensive', 'Partial', etc. to know how to best refute their classification. When I went in to the ARB hearing last year, all my comps were 'Extensive' while my house was 'Total' (even though the comps were much nicer houses!) and so they heavily discounted all my evidence.

I got some answers via email from HCAD on the definitions of some of the classifications they use (as I was interested in above):

Cost and Design (C&D) codes are sometimes also referred to as remodel codes because they can specify some level of remodel. C&D
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  • 1 month later...

I got a pdf file from the HCAD website thtat gives some sample forms to handling a protestEqualAppraisal.pdf. In the calculation tables they require a "time adjustment factor" for adjusting sale prices to a particular date. In the instructions they say these are available by school district but do not say where to get them. Can anyone provide me with a link to these factors?

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is my first time to contest my home/property values, and I have to plead major ignorance in what to do. What I mean is, I was tempted to hire a tax office to handle everything The thing is that they want 50% of the deduction back in their pockets, and that sounds like an awful lot. What do you guys think? Could a first timer handle it?

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This is my first time to contest my home/property values, and I have to plead major ignorance in what to do. What I mean is, I was tempted to hire a tax office to handle everything The thing is that they want 50% of the deduction back in their pockets, and that sounds like an awful lot. What do you guys think? Could a first timer handle it?

if you have supporting data yes a first timer could easily handle it.

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This is my first time to contest my home/property values, and I have to plead major ignorance in what to do. What I mean is, I was tempted to hire a tax office to handle everything The thing is that they want 50% of the deduction back in their pockets, and that sounds like an awful lot. What do you guys think? Could a first timer handle it?

Not only can a first timer handle it, but think about this...if you screw it up and only get half what O'Connor would get, you came out even. If you see the number of files that they show up with, you know they are not putting much research into it.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Not only can a first timer handle it, but think about this...if you screw it up and only get half what O'Connor would get, you came out even. If you see the number of files that they show up with, you know they are not putting much research into it.

Thanks Red. I took your advice, and have a hearing scheduled. I've got photos, and have varios documentation (selling price research for similar home in neighborhood, etc).

Funny that you mention O'Connor as they were the firm I was going to sign with.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm pretty sure I know the answer but was curious what the responses would be to this question. As a homeowner, am I under any legal obligation to correct HCAD's info re: my property? We bought the house last year and just received our 2009 appraisal. I'd heard that HCAD relied partially on MLS sales info and assumed we would be appraised at or near sales price and the incorrect info (sq. footage & room count) would be updated accordingly.

However, the 2009 appraisal is still based on a 1000 sq ft 3/1 rather than the 1800 sq ft 3/2.5 we live in. Therefore the appraisal is about $100k less than sales price. Despite the inaccurate info HCAD does show that the house was remodeled in 2008. Anyway, I was just curious if any responsibility is placed on the homeowner or if I should just pay my taxes and enjoy trying to stay under the radar as I am planning to do.

Thanks,

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Newish to Houston and first time protesting the value...

Question - at the informal first hearing, or the 2nd meeting, is it a good idea to point out the defects in your house?

Worry is - are such defects documented and then could come back and bite you when you sell the house?

I think this question was asked bu someone else in this thread before and not answered, so would love to hear any thoughts...Thanks!

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Newish to Houston and first time protesting the value...

Question - at the informal first hearing, or the 2nd meeting, is it a good idea to point out the defects in your house?

Worry is - are such defects documented and then could come back and bite you when you sell the house?

I think this question was asked bu someone else in this thread before and not answered, so would love to hear any thoughts...Thanks!

If you are thinking along those lines, a lower appraisal is always bad when trying to sell for the highest price. However, few people looking to buy a house base their offer on the appraisal district price. Most will simply appreciate that a lower appraisal will save money on taxes. You just have to decide which is more important to you, paying higher taxes, or getting a higher sales price. The two numbers are always at odds with each other.

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I'm pretty sure I know the answer but was curious what the responses would be to this question. As a homeowner, am I under any legal obligation to correct HCAD's info re: my property? We bought the house last year and just received our 2009 appraisal. I'd heard that HCAD relied partially on MLS sales info and assumed we would be appraised at or near sales price and the incorrect info (sq. footage & room count) would be updated accordingly.

However, the 2009 appraisal is still based on a 1000 sq ft 3/1 rather than the 1800 sq ft 3/2.5 we live in. Therefore the appraisal is about $100k less than sales price. Despite the inaccurate info HCAD does show that the house was remodeled in 2008. Anyway, I was just curious if any responsibility is placed on the homeowner or if I should just pay my taxes and enjoy trying to stay under the radar as I am planning to do.

Stay under the radar!!!!!

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