Jump to content

Property Tax Protest Services


missjanel

Recommended Posts

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!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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).

the city of houston shouldn't be asking anything. the county is the one who deals with appraisal district matters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Ive screwed up and let them raise my values every year since I bought my house, this being the fifth year. I am going to try Appealpropertytax.com on the logic that I think my value is way high and they should have more success than I would with the iappeal online myself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Just wanted to add a followup. Due to lack of time and few responses to this thread we went with O'Conner. Talk about a disappointment. They were very disorganized when getting the initial paperwork filed. I sent them the Authorization of Agent form no less than 4 times. A few weeks would go by and they claimed "we never got it". I kept telling myself it would all be worth the hassle if they got the reduction in value. Well the formal hearing was yesterday and there was ZERO reduction in value. I have protested myself for probably 7 years now and have never not gotten a reduction in value. I'm baffled how they "the professionals" could not get a reduction when several lots on my street which are identical in size are valued significantly lower. I guess for me this mean arbitration. I hope the rest of you folks are having better luck with your protests this year. You could probably get better results from protesting yourself than the folks at O'Connor.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Late to the party, but my two cents. I had used O'Connor successfully for around five years. Each year they either got a reduction, or at least kept my value from increasing. Then late in 2009, when it was too late for any appeals, I get their letter and HCAD references that my property had shot up over 30% in value! A call to O'Connor was useless and they had no answer as to why an increase over the allowable 10% was allowed to pass without even letting me know. It took a bit of digging but HCAD finally told me it was because of the "major remodel" my house had. But I didn't. The only work done on my house over the years I have owned it has been maintenance, replacing things as they wear out, etc. I immediately fired O'Connor (and yet they still keep sending me letters asking me to come back) and managed to get a hearing at HCAD where I could only protest the "procedural errors" rather than the value itself. That hearing failed and I was stuck with the higher taxes for 2009. This year I did due diligence and prepared to protest myself after they went up ANOTHER 10%. I got paperwork from the City of Houston showing that I'd had no permits pulled since adding AC in 2000, got comps both recent and current, printed out the appraisals from my own block which were all over the map, and lastly took pictures showing both the improvements and the flaws of my home. The informal hearing was a joke, the woman barely glanced at anything I had brought. At the formal hearing, I came very prepared and lucked out and got a great committee. They listened intently, looked at my pictures, then all eyes turned to the HCAD appraiser there. He asked a few questions and stated that it was obvious that the improvements I have made do not a "major remodel" make. I had it reduced from $216K to $185K (it was around $150ish before this started) so I got it back in line to where it should have been. I'll do it myself from now on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used AppealPropertyTax.com and they managed to get my appraisal down about $7k. They're web-based and don't respond to emails. They also don't provide any updates on your case other than a bill at the very end. So the only way to know they're working on your case is to check HCAD for a tax protest hearing date. But they did come through, and I felt the results were decent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

O'Connor got ours reduced by $20k this year. I'll probably drop them for next year and do it myself, as there's going to be lots of permits this year for repairs, none of which count as a remodel.

The biggest problem with Oconner, or any of these people is that they can use many different methods to lower your taxes, and take 50% of your savings...meanwhile HCAD, can, and often does come back at a later point in time and state there was an error made, and then they revalue your property in excess of the 10% homestead cap. They are allowed to break that cap if there was an error. None of these companies will ever send you back your money when their work is undone years later.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...
  • 4 months later...

Are you sure about this?

As to whether improvements can increase in value, yes I am sure.

As to whether that phenomenon was fairly well confined to 2006-2008 and that the phenomenon is over, the answer is that in terms of the marketplace, I am confident in my statement. In terms of HCAD's computer-generated mass appraisals...well, those things are just horrible, rife with errors in their sales data and rampant internal inconsistencies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

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 handle my own protests, but I have heard a lot of positives about Jason Rodrigues of Harding and Carbone

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One year later and I just signed up with appealpropertytax.com. I hope to be more successful than I was using O'Connor last year. Will come back and update after it's over.

As I said I would last year I signed up to use this same company. I got no communication form them, and after the hearing they mailed me a letter indicating that they agreed with the CAD's assesment of my home's value. Cut and dry, no indication that they had fault on my behalf. I will be doing this one my own this year. Good luck

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Just a reminder: don't forget to protest your property taxes. The deadline is tomorrow (May 31st). Whether you realize it or not, your government is probably ____ing you around. It's what they do. They do it well.

I handle my own protests, but I have heard a lot of positives about Jason Rodrigues of Harding and Carbone

That's interesting. I seem to recall that he used to be at O'Connor & Associates.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did my own, as I do every year. I knocked off 8% this year. Frankly, I think it is the rare case where you cannot do at least half as well as these protest services. Remember, as soon as you do half as well as they would, you've broken even with them. I think that in every year but one, I have saved more than they would have (one year I could not make the meeting, and got nothing). And, I am getting this from the informal hearing, not the ARB hearing. Comparing my appraisal with my neighbors, I must be doing something right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did my own, as I do every year. I knocked off 8% this year. Frankly, I think it is the rare case where you cannot do at least half as well as these protest services. Remember, as soon as you do half as well as they would, you've broken even with them. I think that in every year but one, I have saved more than they would have (one year I could not make the meeting, and got nothing). And, I am getting this from the informal hearing, not the ARB hearing. Comparing my appraisal with my neighbors, I must be doing something right.

I would tend to agree that if you have something worth fighting over, then do it yourself. Nobody knows more about your property and your neighborhood than you.

If you don't have a story to tell or if you it doesn't go your way and you want to litigate the value, then let them have at it.

One way or the other, always protest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

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)

We used appealpropertytax.com this year but we haven't heard a thing from them. We know is too early to have already finished the appeal, but we wanted to know if they received our paperwork. We have e-mailed and called repeatedly and no answer. How do you contact them?

I am worried they never received our paperwork and now it's too late to hire another appeal company.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just sent in my protest. Will go it alone. My question is: do you think they will lower my appraisal less than what I paid for the house? I bought it in 08 right before the market collapse and I believe it's worth less now than it was then.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We used appealpropertytax.com this year but we haven't heard a thing from them. We know is too early to have already finished the appeal, but we wanted to know if they received our paperwork. We have e-mailed and called repeatedly and no answer. How do you contact them?

I am worried they never received our paperwork and now it's too late to hire another appeal company.

Look up your property tax record on the HCAD site. If they got your paperwork, there will now be a clickable link near the top of your record which says "Fiduciary Information." Click on it and they should be listed as your Fiduciary Agent.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Look up your property tax record on the HCAD site. If they got your paperwork, there will now be a clickable link near the top of your record which says "Fiduciary Information." Click on it and they should be listed as your Fiduciary Agent.

Thanks a lot!!!!!!

I found the record and the link. They did appeal my property taxes and apparently there's an informal hearing on June 22nd

Big sigh of relief!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Sorry for the bump,

But is it too late to file a property tax protest for the 2013 year?

I'd like to bring down my property value by 20%, is that too much? Is there a formula on how you would determine a fair assessment of your property value?

The taxes due in January 2013 are for the valuation as of January 1st, 2012. Although the protest deadline was May 31st, you can still write a letter to your appraisal district and respectfully request that they consider a reduction of your value, pursuant to 25.25(h) of the Texas Property Tax Code. Attach plenty of evidence and an explanation.

I don't know whether 20% is too much. It depends on your evidence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The taxes due in January 2013 are for the valuation as of January 1st, 2012. Although the protest deadline was May 31st, you can still write a letter to your appraisal district and respectfully request that they consider a reduction of your value, pursuant to 25.25(h) of the Texas Property Tax Code. Attach plenty of evidence and an explanation.

I don't know whether 20% is too much. It depends on your evidence.

What kind of evidence is considered good evidence to bring down the value? Should I just take pictures of any cracks, blemishes, and things needing repair on my property?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, but don't sweat the small stuff. I think that it just distracts them. Focus on the roof, foundation, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, animal and insect infestations, recurring graffiti problems, etc. They don't tax landscaping (yet), so don't harp about your trees if they died last year.

If you purchased your property recently for less than the appraised value, then submit your closing statements. You might also ask a Realtor for sales comps in your area. Specify your purpose. If they think that you might want to sell your property, then they'll only show you the highest ones or perhaps the lowest ones except for those where they were the agent. They might do this anyway because most of them are nincompoops.

Lastly, you can argue inequity. Look at your neighbors' values, look at your values. See if they are more or less in alignment. Don't bother with this unless you've got a good argument, though. Petty arguments only distract them, or worse. And you're asking for a favor that they aren't obligated to give you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...