Tax experts anticipate more home appraisal protests than ever in Travis County

Travis County

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the local housing market changes dramatically, hundreds of thousands in Travis County are getting their home appraisals from the Travis Central Appraisal District for this year. The numbers are important because they’re used to calculate property taxes.

But tax experts tell KXAN they expect more homeowners than ever to fight back.

Last year, TCAD says there were 127,000 protests. This year, even more are expected.

“We’ve already had folks calling us and asking us to help them, anticipating that ‘hard hit’ in those values,” said Debra Bawcom, CEO of Texas ProTax, which helps represent homeowners who want to protest the values set by the appraisal district.

As it does around this time every year, TCAD has begun sending out appraisal notices. But as housing demand continues to skyrocket, the appraisal district is reporting higher median home values.

In 2020, Travis County’s median home value was $354,622. This year, TCAD says it has reached $413,403.

The only year this number didn’t go up from the previous year was last year — that’s when the appraisal district froze appraisals because of a data dispute.

The Travis Central Appraisal District says the median home value has increased 16% from 2020 (KXAN Photo)

“I think it’s going to really shock the property owner how much that value is going to increase because the appraisal district is going to have to play catch up now for two years,” Bawcom said.

Bill Oakey is just one homeowner feeling the effect. He owns one-third of a triplex in West Austin. According to the appraisal notice Oakey received, its value went up 55% from last year.

“The first thing that occurred to me was that the alarm was going to go off, I’m going to wake up and tell everyone about the bad dream I just had,” he told us.

Property owners have until May 17 to protest their appraisals. From there, homeowners can try and reach a settlement with TCAD informally or have a formal hearing in front of the Appraisal Review Board.

More details on the process and timelines can be found here.

Texas law caps increases of tax-assessed value to 10% per year for those with homestead exemptions. Anything above that is ripe for a protest, which is exactly what Oakey plans.

“I’m going to try to become an example of how you can win,” he said.

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