(Why over 200,000 Harris County home owners are over-taxed by more than 10% and 30,000 are over-taxed by 50%)

Appraisal districts use a process called mass appraisal to value hundreds of thousands of houses. In Harris County, they value about 1.2 million houses each year, using a very limited staff. Most of the property inspections mandated by state low (every three years) are now done using aerial photography! Seriously, how much can you tell about the condition of a house viewing an aerial photograph?

In many cases, the computer-generated estimate of market value is within 10% of the true value. However, in about half the cases the value set by the appraisal district is either 10% high or low, because of defects in the mass appraisal process. This applies to Harris County Appraisal District and most other appraisal districts.

We believe about 30,000 homes in Harris County over-taxed by 50% or more in 2014. And about 5,000 homes in Harris County over-taxed by 100% or more. Between 200,000 and 300,000 Harris County taxes are over-taxed by at least 10%.

While this may seem incredible, it is due to the errors in appraisal district property records, inaccurate data regarding cost, depreciation and comparable sales. Further, most property owners have limited knowledge about the appeal process and believe myths about appealing property taxes. They do not understand the HCAD jargon of grade, CDU, level of remodel, land lines, etc. Compounding the problem is a reluctance to revise HCAD records. If an HCAD appraiser agrees a property is over-taxed, he will change the value. However, to correct fields of data such as grade, condition or land value is highly unusual. So the same problems occur from year to year, frustrating home owners and causing HCAD a consistently high appeal value. If Harris County Appraisal District would make updating the records part of the appraisal process, it would reduce the number of annual protests.

Since HCAD targets 100% of market value for their homes, half of all houses are over-taxed and half are under-taxed. The result is there are at least 200,000 houses in Harris County over-taxed by at least 10%. Following is a list of some of the most egregious examples of homes over-valued Zip Code 77084. If you recognize the address, please call the owner and make sure they protest.

Property Zip Code

Property Address

Assessment Ratio

2014 Market Value

Gross Sale Price

Owner Name

77084

16822 Judyleigh Dr

190%

$98,761 $52,000 Anera Enterprises LLC

77084

4818 Pine Cliff Dr

176%

$131,584 $74,700 Mchugh Patrick G

77084

5214 Crystal Bay Dr

166%

$141,089 $85,000 Bansal Rakesh

77084

15615 Sandy Hill Dr

155%

$133,755 $86,500 Marshall Dennis R & Robin

77084

4543 Hickory Downs Dr

154%

$137,010 $89,000 Nj Capital LLC

77084

16010 Carlisle Park Ln

153%

$275,201 $180,000 Deane Lawrence & Ruth A

77084

15730 Rolling Timbers Dr

147%

$116,004 $79,000 Harkor Homes LLC

77084

14750 James River Ln

144%

$186,911 $130,000 2012 Houses LLC

77084

4719 Cobble Grove Ln

143%

$171,584 $120,000 Current Owner

77084

19634 Moonhollow Dr

142%

$114,467 $80,777 Mdm Ventures Inc Et Al

77084

4410 Jura Dr

141%

$112,839 $80,000 Thompson David

77084

18306 Timber Strand Dr

140%

$545,882 $391,000 Uptown Cars Inc

77084

5118 Eagle Trail Dr

136%

$126,019 $93,000 Jameossanaye Mohammad R

77084

3227 Mulberry Hill Ln

135%

$175,292 $130,000 Fitzgeraldre LLC

77084

4311 Jura Dr

134%

$112,704 $84,000 Gomez George J

77084

18730 Glen Briar Ln

134%

$99,211 $74,000 Mnsf Houston LLC

77084

5418 Dunnethead Dr

133%

$120,277 $90,100 Bank Of America

77084

1919 Marlberry Ln

133%

$139,691 $105,000 Lemus Carlos M

77084

18222 Longmoor Dr

131%

$261,432 $200,000 Escobar-Molina Liliana M

77084

16943 Cairntosh St

130%

$93,785 $72,000 Federal National Mortgage Association

77084

17619 Wolf Hollow Dr

129%

$86,333 $67,000 Soria Bertoldo

77084

2631 Morninglight Dr

128%

$106,412 $83,000 Rosel Jeff

77084

18154 Garden Manor Dr

128%

$129,403 $101,000 Ho Nhatrang

77084

18023 Forest Cedars Dr

128%

$107,706 $84,200 Fowler Michael P

77084

4518 Scone St

128%

$116,062 $91,000 Padar Edwin

77084

4518 Scone St

128%

$116,062 $91,000 Padar Edwin

77084

5303 Pine Cliff Dr

127%

$176,935 $139,000 Lopez Jose A

77084

19415 Long Lake Dr

127%

$114,491 $90,000 Le Nhan Minh

77084

18210 Brooknoll Dr

127%

$108,045 $85,000 Corson Jennifer

77084

4314 Aspenglen Dr

127%

$89,585 $70,550 Housing & Urban Development

77084

18735 Denise Dale Ln

126%

$94,846 $75,000 Laday Donald

77084

18122 Longmoor Dr

125%

$183,123 $147,000 Shields Gordon

77084

17607 Dylans Point Ct

125%

$250,176 $200,900 Pham Anhdao N

77084

18219 Widcombe Dr

123%

$221,163 $180,000 Lehman Herman

77084

4828 Whispering Falls Dr

122%

$130,547 $107,000 Zimmerman Sara M

77084

5027 Whispering Falls Dr

122%

$116,711 $95,750 Drennan Charles & Johnda

77084

1930 Fernspray Ln

122%

$109,405 $90,000 Chacon Aida M

77084

2219 Blindlake Dr

121%

$118,429 $98,000 Sun Yihong

77084

18143 River Sage Dr

120%

$109,589 $91,000 Adams Jenalee & Michael

77084

5731 Roehampton Ct

120%

$126,247 $105,000 Ochoa Sonia

77084

5310 Green Hazel Ct

119%

$100,214 $84,099 Quest Ira Inc

77084

16619 Royal Mile Ln

119%

$83,325 $70,000 Barceghian Jorge

77084

16619 Royal Mile Ln

119%

$83,325 $70,000 Barceghian Jorge

77084

16803 Rockbend

119%

$116,562 $98,000 Koenning Leslie J

77084

3238 Apple Dale Dr

119%

$190,036 $160,000 Pallitto Nicholas J

77084

19314 Dawn Canyon Rd

118%

$138,538 $117,100 Long Difei

77084

4710 Twisting Rd

118%

$162,051 $137,000 Hoang Nhulai

77084

16923 Cairnloch St

118%

$84,779 $71,799 Bltrejv3 Houston LLC

77084

19603 Southaven Dr

118%

$108,134 $92,000 Churchwell Evelyn

77084

5210 Prairie Creek Dr

117%

$181,646 $154,900 Yurchevich John D & Pamela

77084

15010 Moss Boulder Ct

117%

$171,209 $146,000 Srp Sub LLC

77084

5022 Hastingwood Dr

116%

$267,345 $230,000 Marcos Thoams D & Olga E

77084

6329 Porterway Dr

116%

$70,607 $60,909 Wells Fargo Bank Trustee

77084

6329 Porterway Dr

116%

$70,607 $60,909 Wells Fargo Bank Trustee

77084

18315 Longcliffe Dr

116%

$229,486 $198,000 Adams Otis G

77084

19506 Clevera Walk Ln

115%

$156,250 $136,000 Correa Maria D

77084

17914 Castle Heath Ln

115%

$192,986 $168,000 Carter Jody T

77084

15107 Mulberry Meadows Dr

114%

$113,010 $99,000 Beneficial Financial I Inc

77084

16606 Loch Katrine Ln

114%

$102,331 $90,000 Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corp

77084

18414 Timber Strand Dr

114%

$214,517 $189,000 Blakeman Kimngan V & Benton

77084

5819 White Hart Run

113%

$130,485 $115,000 Lozano Michael J

77084

17735 Delta Springs Ln

113%

$204,112 $180,000 Wang Ping

77084

17619 Pattiglen Dr

113%

$106,589 $94,000 Morgan Barbara A

77084

1723 Foxlake Dr

113%

$108,508 $96,000 Fernandez Jacqueline

77084

4411 Lost Spring Dr

113%

$121,878 $108,000 Gil Jose F

77084

5406 Ringford Ct

113%

$229,466 $203,500 Nguyen Kim H

77084

4007 Autumn Pines Trl

112%

$185,190 $165,000 Huang Weitao

77084

17602 Wolf Hollow Dr

112%

$89,508 $80,000 Saifee Shabbir

77084

4910 Harbor Glen Ln

112%

$170,295 $152,500 Do Danh

77084

17215 Pine Hollow Landing Ct

111%

$262,262 $236,000 Mejiaolea Noe

77084

15002 Yorktown Colony Dr

111%

$114,213 $102,799 Atca LLC

77084

3943 Pine Forest Hollow Trl

111%

$183,014 $164,800 Nguyen Thanh K

77084

16802 Bouldgreen

111%

$96,459 $87,000 Wu Jin

77084

4835 Eagle Trail Dr

111%

$127,922 $115,700 Hirsch Elaine B

77084

17407 Autumn Trails Ln

111%

$85,677 $77,500 Saifee Shabbir

77084

16939 Macleish Dr

110%

$112,621 $102,000 Harvey Antonio

77084

18326 Longmoor Dr

110%

$214,956 $195,000 Casias Louie Jr

77084

17603 Autumn Hills Dr

110%

$84,413 $76,584 Deutsche Bank National Trust Company TR

77084

6507 Silver Poplar Ln

110%

$111,269 $101,000 Atca LLC

77084

16810 Blairstone

110%

$148,259 $135,000 Thomas Kashunda

77084

16811 Carbridge Dr

110%

$98,819 $90,000 Brown Johnathon

77084

5418 Starfield Dr

110%

$112,452 $102,500 Walker Sayers G & Dorothy J

77084

4918 Bonny Loch Ln

110%

$214,720 $196,000 Allana Nuzhat

Since the property taxes are paid by the mortgage company for most home owners, the pain point for the home owner is about one year too late. When they receive the notice their monthly payment is increasing by $100 or $200 or more per month, the appeal deadline has likely passed. The property tax appeal deadline in Texas is May 31, or the following workday if May 31is on a weekend.

The mortgage payment will not likely be increased until after the current year taxes are paid. For example, if your home is grossly over-assessed in 2014, the monthly payment will likely be adjusted in the Spring of 2015. But the deadline to protest your 2014 property taxes is May 31 (actually June 2 since May 31 is on a weekend). Hence, the deadline occurs almost a year before the home owner learns there is a problem.

There is really no meaningful relationship between the methodical work done by an independent fee appraiser and an appraisal district appraiser. The fee appraiser typically inspects and measures the subject property, so he has accurate data. He also personally visits each of the comparable sales to see if they are really comparable.

For homes build before 1980, an appraisal district appraiser has almost never seen the inside of the house. They just guess at the quality of construction and condition. For homes built after 1980, the appraisers attempt to measure them. However, they are often not completed when the appraisers measure them, leading to errors including size (by double counting vaulted ceilings), and level of finish. Curiously, appraisers at Harris County Appraisal District give equal credence to their data on homes built before and after 1980.

The appraisal districts errors regarding your property are compounded by errors in their information regarding comparable sales. The appraisal districts commit several errors systematically that tend to cause them to over-tax home owners. First, properties that sell are typically prepared for sale by putting them in prime condition. Properties that sell have often been recently painted, have new flooring, a new roof, a new HVAC and other similar items. If a buyer was considering buying a typical house not prepared for sale and one that had been prepared as advised by the Realtor, the buyer would certainly pay more for the latter. HCAD terms the cost of preparing a home for sale “maintenance” and does not recognize any difference in condition between a recently sold house and a livable house.

A second serious problem is that appraisal districts tend to use sales that have been remodeled to value houses that have not been remodeled. Incredibly, the insular culture at some appraisal districts, including Harris County Appraisal District, is they require you to prove your house has not been remodeled. This is simply a red herring to cover up the extensive errors in their evidence regarding comparable sales. There is no requirement that the property owner prove the appraisal districts records are correct. If anything, the appraisal district doubting the accuracy of their evidence about your house should undermine their credibility on other issues. If the appraisal district is saying their evidence about your house may not be accurate, why should we give much consideration to any of their other evidence?

In addition to errors regarding the information about your house and the errors regarding the comparable sales, the model used by the appraisal district is imperfect. There is no model that can consistently value houses with precision.

Texas law requires property owners to file a property tax protest to be able to obtain the evidence regarding their house. Protest both market value and unequal appraisal and include a note asking the appraisal district to make their evidence available two weeks prior to the hearing. The protest form is available at http://www.poconnor.com/pdf_forms/41-44.pdf

In many cases, given the large number of substantial errors in valuing houses, the appraisal district’s evidence will clearly show the property is over-assessed. It is critical that you protest prior to May 31, or you will not be able to get the information and determine if you are taxed fairly. Since over 200,000 houses in Harris County are over-taxed by at least 10%, encourage your family and friends to protest, so they at least get to see the appraisal districts evidence.

After you protest and obtain the appraisal district’s information, one of the first priorities is to see if their evidence is accurate for your house. Then check to see if the sales data is accurate.

The data used for analysis was all sales of houses in Harris County that occurred during October 1 2013 to March 31 2014, for which we had a purchase price and a 2014 HCAD market value. The only records that were eliminated were those where there was a major discrepancy between the Realtor MLS data and the HCAD tax roll regarding the size of the land and / or building. Stated differently, this analysis includes all sales except those for which complete information was not available.

For more information, contact Pat O’Connor at 713 822 8613.