The right to protest to the Appraisal Review Board is the most important right you have as a taxpayer. Below is an email we received from our client, Joe H., after he successfully protested his property taxes. Thanks for your advice Joe!
Becky and Shelle,
The hearing this morning was a success. I was able to get the appraisal board to reduce the market value on the house by $30,000. I am happy for the results considering that we did buy it at the end of the year at a high point of a good sales market. The board members did comment on how surprised they were at the amount of reduction from the appraisal district so that was a good sign and also gave me some pointers for next year.
A few things that I learned in the process that might be valuable for others going through a similar process:
1. Check the building class compared to other houses in the neighborhood. In DCAD they had our house classified as as Class 23 – all of the other houses on our street were classified as a Class 21. When I read the definitions, I noticed that our house did not technically fall into a Class 23 definition and that was a focal point of my case because this affected their value. I may have them come out and review this for next year because they still kept it at 23.
2. Challenge the stated “Condition”. Because of our sale price, the DCAD system automatically adjusted the condition to “Very Good”. I was able to provide evidence that it was in AVG / GOOD Condition. They were able to adjust this.
3. Get sales comps from your Realtor®. The sales comps that you provided were perfect and I used the ones in my immediate neighborhood with similar sq footage. I used total of six: They only used three of the highest values for their appraisal. It was nice that I could show more comps to challenge the avg $/sq ft.
4. Take photos of all problematic areas, including dirt or rust. I took pictures of all things that were problematic around the house, however I wish I still had interior pictures from before we came in and painted and cleaned up. The board did comment that seeing some interior pictures would have helped for better challenging the classification. My advice for new owners is to take pictures before any cleaning, or any updating is preformed.
5. Take photos of existing amenities, appliances, equipment. They also asked about the pool, being that it was almost 30 years old, If I had taken pictures of the pool and equipment condition, I perhaps could have gotten them to reduce the “additional improvements” (pool) a little bit.
6. Create a itemized list of needed repairs and estimated costs. The other thing that they asked for, which I did not have because I wasn’t using as supporting evidence, was an itemized list of needed repairs and vendor estimates. I did have a list of house issues but did not have any official cost estimates. It seems like they might have used that in consideration for value if I could have provided it.
7. Make five (5) color copies of your presentation, including photos. There were three board members and a DCAD appraiser. Even though they scan everything into the system for evidence, it would have helped if I had extra copies of my evidence for all of the board members. I also did not bring in any pictures because they had previously scanned these into the system when I went for the informal meeting last month. They did display them on the projector screen but they were hard to make out. I wish I had known and would have brought extra copies for all to share.
In all, it was a great experience and I am happy with the results and I also saved by not paying a tax group to protest for me.
Thanks again for all of your help!