Protest Harris County Property Taxes
Harris County Appraisal District serves the following cities: Houston, Bellaire, West University, South Houston, Baytown, Tomball, Katy, Bunker Hill, Deer Park, El Lago, Friendswood, Hedwig Village, Humble, Jacinto City, Kemah, La Porte, Missouri City, Pasadena, Pearland, Seabrook, Spring Valley, Webster and a number of other cities and tax entities.
Harris County Appraisal District property tax assessed values should be protested annually to minimize your property taxes. Most Harris County Appraisal District protests are successful. Top 11 reasons to protest Harris County Appraisal District Values annually.
Tips & Tricks for Appealing Your Property Taxes in Harris County
- The most meaningful way to reduce your property taxes for your home is to obtain a homestead exemption. Most homeowners receive about a 20% reduction from obtaining a homestead exemption.
- Property tax appeals are an iterative process. Annual appeals produce the lowest level of assessment. You can file a notice of appeal by utilizing the comptroller's form or by sending a letter to the Harris County Appraisal Review Board.
- For a nominal cost, you can receive the HCAD hearing evidence. Obtaining the Harris County Appraisal District evidence (House Bill 201 information) greatly increases your chances for success at the Harris County Appraisal Review Board hearing. When you request this information, it limits HCAD's ability to present any other information at the hearing.
- HCAD's record card has data for your property such as building area, land area, year built and condition. Research the Harris County Appraisal District "record card" which has information used to value your property. There are often errors with factors such as land area, building area, year built, year remodeled, grade (quality of construction) and CDU (condition, utility and desirability).
- Market value is the price for which your house would sell. Unequal appraisal is whether you are overassessed compared to your neighbors. When preparing for your Harris County Appraisal Review Board hearing you should gather information on market value and unequal appraisal
- Obtain comparable sales data for the sale price, building size, etc. for properties similar to your property. Comparable sales are the cornerstone of market value. Sources of comparable sales data ate in the House Bill 201 package obtained from the Harris County Appraisal District and MLS sites.
- Unequal appraisal using assessment comparables (the assessed value of other properties) has only been clearly authorized by the Texas Property Tax Code since 2003. Unequal appraisal is often effective in reducing property taxes. Even if your assessed value is below market value, you can appeal based on unequal appraisal.
- Unequal appraisal occurs when the Harris County Appraisal District has assessed your property at a higher level than similar properties. The best comparables are the same property type (i.e. house for a house) and are similar with regard to size, age, location, quality and year built. You can research assessment comparables on the Harris County Appraisal District website.
- Sales chasing is when assessors focus on the purchase price for a recently purchased property but do not revise the assessment for similar properties. Unequal appraisal can be particularly helpful for recently purchased properties. Harris County Appraisal District appraisers are reluctant to reduce the assessed value, when it is below the recent purchase price, even if it is unequally appraised. However, the impartial Harris County Appraisal Review Board is required to consider appeals on both market value and unequal appraisal.
- An unequal appraisal analysis is typically presented in a table or matrix format. Important components of an unequal appraisal presentation include a reasonable number of comparable properties (about 2 to 10) that are appropriately adjusted. These properties are usually considered to be properties that are similar in regard to the quality and quantity of improvements.
- Independent appraisals can be a significant expense. However, in some situations they can effectively document the impact on value of a variety of adverse factors. Obtaining an independent appraisal can effectively document market value and will receive meaningful consideration from the Harris County Appraisal District appraiser and the Harris County Appraisal Review Board panel members.
- Recently built properties are usually valued based on HCAD's estimate of cost as of January 1. If the cost of improvements completed through January 1 is less than the assessed value for improvements, the appraisal district will be receptive to reducing their value. For recently built properties, the Harris County Appraisal District appraiser will want to review actual construction cost. A cost segregation report prepared by a qualified appraiser can separate personal property from real property.
- The appraiser is compensated based on salary and his compensation does not change if he reduces your assessed value. Most HCAD appraisers are willing to make changes if provided reasonable evidence. At the hearing, spend a few moments developing a rapport with the appraiser. Be polite with the appraiser - the appraiser is not opposed to reducing your property taxes.
- Organize your thoughts and documents before the ARB hearing. Your presentation to the Harris County Appraisal Review Board should be kept between five to ten minutes, since the entire hearing only lasts 15 to 20 minutes.
- Binding arbitration is a new option made available in 2005. If you are not satisfied with your results from the appraisal review board hearing, you can request binding arbitration. When compared to a judicial appeal, advantages of binding arbitration include a lower cost, informal process, speedier resolution and the loser pays provision.
- Binding arbitration allows property owners an informal and inexpensive option if not satisfied with the Harris County Appraisal Review Board's decision. Binding arbitration is available for owners of properties with an assessed value of $1 million or less (after the Harris County Appraisal Review Board hearing) who are only appealing on market value. Binding arbitration can't be used for appeals on unequal appraisal, business personal property, minerals and exemptions.
- Many property owners initially handle their own appeal for several years and then hire a consultant. Although you can appeal on your own, hiring a consultant to appeal on your behalf is risk free because there is no flat fee and no upfront costs; you only pay a portion of the savings. There is no fee if there are no savings.