A couple meeting with a home appraiser

The bulk of the revenue stream to operate municipalities and their schools, law enforcement, infrastructure, emergency services, staffing and more comes from real estate property taxes. The task of assessing property value (especially your home value), assigning a tax rate and collecting the money falls to the counties in Texas.

Since Austin stretches into three counties – Travis, Hays and Williamson – a special Austin County Appraisal District was created, even though there is no official Austin County. The City of Austin and other municipalities also may levy property taxes to pay their expenses.

Understanding Home Appraisals

Each appraisal entity operates according to the Texas Property Tax Code and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices. Properties are required to be appraised every three years, With the recent explosion of real estate prices in Texas, some of the appraisal districts have reassessed annually. This may seem greedy, but more people place more demand on the services which municipalities provide.

A property’s appraisal and market value may be close. The county appraisal process is similar to real estate market techniques for determining the value of a condo, house or any dwelling unit independently owned. There is a different category for analyzing multiple-unit properties.

Information gathered to make an appraisal for tax purposes includes, but is not limited to:

  • lot size
  • number of bedrooms
  • square feet of house
  • age of buildings
  • location
  • type of construction.

Recent sale prices of comparable properties and current market trends also influence the final determination for your appraisal and tax bill.

What the Home Appraisal Means

Your home’s value may be more or less than the county appraisal depending on its condition, local economic factors and its appeal to prospective buyers. Where an appraisal team might focus on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a buyer might find the bedrooms very small and the bathrooms totally outdated. These considerations are not as likely to enter the appraisal process as significantly as they might impact the home’s market value.

Additionally, an appraisal for tax purposes — not to be confused with an appraisal for a bank, mortgage lender or buyer — is not going to review the condition of the roof, HVAC systems, home appliances and amenities.

A Notice of Appraised Value is mailed each spring to homeowners by the local Texas Appraisal District. It outlines the current appraised value for the same year as well as the previous year’s appraised value. If there are any exemptions, like homestead, disabled person or disabled veteran, age 65 and older, they are listed. According to the website austincad.org (for Austin County Appraisal District): “The chief appraiser is responsible for administering exemption applications. A property owner or the owner’s authorized agent must file any necessary exemption form before May 1 of the tax year.”

A tax estimate and instructions on how to protest the most recent appraisal are also included. Homeowners who disagree with the appraised value may file an appeal with the Appraisal Review Board.

2022 Notices of Appraised Value will be sent to property owners whose value increased $1000 or more, new property owners, and owners who had an exemption removed.

Your Home and its Value

Home values, in the end, are determined by the buyers. Anything is often worth only what someone is willing to pay for it. Buyers are guided by many of the same points as the appraisers, though they, along with bank appraisers and home appraisers, look in more detail at property condition.

Professional home appraisers take the cake for being particular, checking things like GFCI outlets in the right places, signs of mold or dampness in attics and basements, evidence of bug infestations, plumbing, wiring, drainage, foundation, window seals, insulation, decks, and much more. They carry flashlights and have the eagle eyes of experience.

While paying taxes may seem a little daunting, the City of Austin and surrounding counties and towns really do deliver so much bang for the buck. It easy to forget that working traffic lights and stop signs, parks and flowers, clean drinking water, emergency services, schools, dog parks, trash and recycling and all manner of public safety and transportation are on the minds of municipal workers while residents stroll the clean and tidy streets and enjoy the exceptional environment in which they reside.

If you have any questions about home appraisal and determining the value of your home, please give us a call and one of our agents will be more than happy to discuss it with you.