AUSTIN (KXAN) — More homeowners are disputing their property appraisals this year than ever before, says the Travis Central Appraisal District.
A spokesperson for TCAD says they have a record-breaking 140,000 protests this year. The biggest time crunch is that the agency must have all the protests “substantially completed” by July 20, which is the state’s deadline for the counties.
“Due to the volume, we have had to schedule heavier in order to complete this statutorily mandated task,” says Leana Mann with TCAD.
And, with the influx of people protesting wait times can become a problem, according to some property owners. TCAD’s chief appraiser Marya Crigler says they’re working on it.
Crigler says they’ve added kiosks to make checking-in convenient and potentially eliminate long lines as well as limit the amount of time during an informal meeting to 15 minutes per property owner and property owners are asked to present their “most important facts first.”
“We are able to go through [informal meetings] on a very rapid basis,” said Crigler. “We resolve 98 percent on an informal basis. But, when it comes to the formal process, property owners take a little bit longer when they’re before the appraisal review board and that process can be backed up a little bit more.”
Crigler says they started focusing on how to expedite the process after noticing a 10 percent increase in protests every year for the past five years.
“I was incredibly shocked by the fact that there [were] hundreds of people,” said Priscilla Hale, who had scheduled a meeting with TCAD. Hale says she was worried when she arrived at TCAD on Tuesday because she overheard “people at the help desk say that they were delayed by two hours.”
Luckily, it only took Hale 30 minutes.
At the end of the day, Hale was pleased with her outcome. Her protesting efforts resulted in a reduction for her east Austin appraisal by $30,000.
“Of course, you want your house to be of more value, but you don’t want it to be just by the changes happening around you,” she said. “What I would like is for people to not continue to be displaced at the rate they’re being displaced.”
Now, Hale says she will have to wait to see how much her taxes will add up to up.
Crigler says they hope to complete all the informal meetings by this Friday.
On Monday, June 25, TCAD will move into the Travis County Exposition Center for formal meetings. Crigler says there will be 20 panels — double the amount from last year to handle the expected 8,000 to 10,000 people.
Travis County homeowners who wanted to protest their appraisal this year had to file by May 15, which was moved up from May 31 in previous years.
In 2015, TCAD changed the e-filing process. Now, if you choose to e-file your protest and the agency responds with a settlement offer and you reject the offer, your case will now directly go to a formal hearing instead of an informal hearing.
According to TCAD data, in 2017, homeowners who protested received a median market value reduction of 4 percent.
However, if the person uses an agent to represent them in the protest, the median reduction was 4.9 percent. Ninety-three percent of cases in 2017 was settled with an informal hearing.
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