AUSTIN (KXAN) — Property tax protest season is underway in Travis County, and the Travis Central Appraisal District is going through thousands of protests that property owners sent in for their 2023 appraisals.

Marya Crigler, TCAD’s chief appraiser, said the district is currently processing about 165,000 protests, which is on par with TCAD’s protest numbers last year. The general deadline to submit protests was May 15.

Crigler said certified estimates are expected to be ready in late July, and all protests should be substantially completed before Aug. 30.

The appraisal district saw a “rebalancing of the housing market” due to waning demand and increased supply. In 2022, TCAD saw “astronomical housing appreciation,” but Crigler said that was not the case in 2023 because of a return to pre-pandemic normals.

Home sale prices declined after peaking in May 2022, data shows. The number of Austin single-family permits also dropped 52.6% in 2022. This means there is not much new inventory coming online. Crigler said this may impact the new value in 2024.

Median home values changed only by about $460 from 2022 to 2023, but homeowners saw a larger change in the median taxable value because of homestead limitations, which means their net appraised value only goes up about 10% per year.

How did commercial values change in Travis County?

The commercial market is still a positive market, Crigler said. There is particular growth in the hospitality sector.

“We are going into the phase where people are coming back into the city…we’re putting on more of our events,” Crigler said.

The multifamily market is growing sustainably, and the retail market in Austin has the highest occupancy rate in the state at 97%. Industrial market growth is also high with more than 90 new industrial centers under construction.

Office is the “softest” market of Travis County’s commercial sector, but it is growing, Crigler said. The office market value grew 14% from 2022 to 2023, according to TCAD.

“Our value distribution has shifted more toward the commercial property owners,” Crigler said.

Property tax bills to watch

Several property tax-related bills are still making their way through the Texas Legislature.

Senate Bill 3 would increase the school district homestead exemption from $40,000 to $70,000 and increase the over-60 exemption from $10,000 to $30,000.

The Texas House’s property tax relief bill, HB 2, would change the value limitation from 10% to 5% for all real property.

However, top Texas Republicans have differed on the best property tax relief option.

Crigler said there are concerns about the timing to implement these changes if property tax relief bills go to a special session and if these changes would be effective for this tax year.

“Some of these are pretty substantial changes to the tax system,” Crigler said.

Two other property tax bills are waiting for Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature to become law.

One bill, by State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt, would allow teachers to serve on Appraisal Review Boards during the summer. That bill was sent to the governor Tuesday.

Another bill, also by Eckhardt, gives central appraisal districts the ability to automatically add the over age 65 tax exemption for a surviving spouse without requiring a new application for the exemption. The bill was sent to the governor May 16 for approval.