AUSTIN (KXAN) — “They truly try their best to discourage appeals. What is the point of trying, if they will just end up doing what they want?” Adriana Gomez said in an email to KXAN.
She’s frustrated by the home appraisal protest process; she’s trying to get her value down from $381,872 to $225,000.
She said last year, it was appraised at $209,728, so her appeal amount would still be an increase.
Gamez said on Aug. 2, she got an offer of $343,685, but decided to continue with her protest.
She said a realtor helped her compile research and comparisons to other properties in her neighborhood, also using information from the Travis Central Appraisal District’s (TCAD) website.
But she said after waiting over an hour on the phone for her hearing with the Travis Appraisal Review Board (TARB), they decided “none of it was relevant.”
She said her evidence included the fact that her home needed repairs, she didn’t have many of the additions other homes on her street had, and numbers from TCAD’s website showing homes built in the same year by the same builder and with the same material were assessed at a lower value.
Gamez said the review board’s offer was the same as the initial appraisal amount.
“How can they assess home values by what they see, and have two-story homes with larger lots assessed at lower amounts when taking into consideration square footage than a one-story home? How can they offer an amount, and then say never mind, after making you wait for a whole hour on the phone and taking another hour to go over this, we are going back to the original amount? It feels more of a punishment for even trying than anything. How can they do this?” she wrote to KXAN.
KXAN took the experience to TCAD.
Spokesperson Cynthia Martinez said the Travis Appraisal Review Board (TARB) is an independent entity and that TCAD has no authority or control over the review board.
“We have no oversight over the decisions they make or how hearings are run. It is actually illegal for an appraisal district to have this type of influence or try to assert this influence over the ARB,” she said.
Martinez said although TCAD has a staffing shortage, that does not affect protest waiting times, and their staff is separate from ARB staff.
She explained that once a person files their protest, they provide their phone number and a TCAD appraiser will call them for an informal meeting.
There is only one informal meeting allowed per property, and if a person doesn’t accept that offer, that’s when they go onto a hearing in front of the TARB.
Martinez said the TCAD appraiser can give the property owner tips to collect more evidence and be more effective at an ARB hearing.
For example, if your home needs repairs, get quotes from contractors on how much those would cost before going into your hearing.
Martinez said they’ve had 171,414 protests so far this year.
The Travis Appraisal Review Board
KXAN has reached out to the ARB for comment on this story and is waiting to hear back.
According to their published hearing procedures, TARB hearings can happen in person, in writing by affidavit, by phone, or by video call, normally limited to 15-20 minutes.
TARB’s own adopted policy states that a property owner can wait up to two hours for their hearing. After two hours, they can request to reschedule. If they hang up or leave before then, their protest can be canceled.
The review board is made up of citizens that are appointed by a local administrative district judge.
Its job is to decide if the appraisal district properly determined the value of your property, based on facts the review board hears from the property owner.
According to general ARB rules posted on the comptroller’s Property Tax Assistance website, hearings generally begin around May 15 and end by July 20, although these dates can vary by appraisal district.
You can appeal an ARB decision by filing a lawsuit in the state district court or by arbitration.
At the end of an ARB hearing, state law requires the ARB to give property owners information on a survey from the Comptroller’s office about their hearing experience.
You can also send complaints to the ARB itself, the taxpayer liaison officer, or the local administrative district judge.
Property owners upset with the ARB process should direct their comments and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.