Austin Board of Realtors, appraisal district continue rift over housing data

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Board of Realtors says they’ll offer the Travis Central Appraisal District local aggregate housing market data filtered by zip code, but not at an individual property level.

It’s another stage in an ongoing feud between the ABoR and TCAD chief appraiser Marya Crigler. Crigler announced Feb. 14 that TCAD would freeze home appraisals in 2020 because ABoR wasn’t giving them enough information to make decisions.

The ABoR refuted those claims, and says TCAD was accessing their proprietary Multiple Listing Service data through “unauthorized means.”

“ABoR’s actions in protecting homeowners’ privacy and the MLS in no way caused TCAD to be unable to update residential property appraisals,” the board said in a statement Thursday. “TCAD updated area appraisals for many years without use of MLS data.”

The ABoR contends they’ve always provided local aggregate housing market data to the public, but due to privacy issues, can’t include sold data for individual properties.

One of the main concerns about freezing home appraisals was how it would affect the formula that funds school district through property taxes. The ABoR made their stance clear, saying they are “committed to balancing the needs and interests of homeowners, our community, and our members.”

“Standing up for our communities means both supporting our schools and the homeowners who live in those districts—it should never be one at the expense of the other,” the board stated.

Crigler called the ABoR’s offer “disingenuous.”

TCAD chief appraiser Marya Crigler. (KXAN photo)

“It would be illegal for us to change market values without having the data to support those changes,” the statement says. “Using aggregate data to do across-the-board increases would violate the Texas Property Code, International Association of Assessing Officers Mass Appraisal Standards, and Uniform Standards of Professional Practices.”

Crigler says that TCAD has tried to get data from a variety of sources, but she says TCAD simply can’t get enough data now.

“We are required to appraise properties at market value and the only way to determine that is by using market data,” Crigler says.

In order for TCAD to use a mass appraisal standard, such as using data by zip code, it must comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, as outlined by the Texas Property Tax Code.

The Uniform Standards say when developing a mass appraisal that’s credible, an appraiser must collect, verify and analyze data to develop the following:

  • The cost new of the improvements
  • Depreciation
  • Value of the land by sales of comparable properties
  • Value of the property by sales of comparable properties
  • Value of capitalization of income or potential earnings (rentals, expenses, interest rates, capitalization rates and vacancy rates as examples)
(KXAN photo)

The Texas Property Tax Code also says, “Each property shall be appraised based on the individual characteristics that affect the property’s market value, and all available evidence that is specific to the value of the property shall be taken into account in determining the property’s market value.”

Crigler said that during a time where property owners are struggling with affordability issues, “every dollar matters.”

“We cannot and will not increase property values without the data to support it,” Crigler said. “We remain committed to working with our taxing entities to find a solution to this issue that is legal and fair for Travis County property owners.”

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