TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Travis Central Appraisal District started sending out appraisal notices earlier this month. Starting Monday, those who would like to file a protest can do so but will have to do it online.
With the current pandemic, TCAD has been taking steps to expand its online and phone services.
This year, that will be the only way to protest your appraisal. Luckily, the appraisal district said they tried out the online method last year, so they’re hopeful things will run smoothly.
“We hope that it’s ready, we hope that we have it scaled appropriately but you never know with the demand we can only do the best that we can with the resources that we’ve got,” Marya Crigler, the appraisal district’s chief appraisal said. “We’re looking at expanding our phone system, but we’re having to get in line behind a lot of other people that are looking to do the same thing and appropriately so we’re behind in the queue some emergency services and some hospitals and I’m OK with us being in line behind them because they are more of a priority than we are, but we are working on it.”
Last year, over 147,000 protested their appraisal. This year, TCAD said a little over 258,000 homeowners will see no change. That’s due to a lack of market data.
“We have always relied on getting data from third parties, third-party vendors, taxpayers responding to surveys and a variety of sources. Last year was the year that we had a contract with a third-party vendor to get data and Austin Board of Realtors objected to the appraisal district having access to their data and as a consequence, we were cut off from the vendor that we had a contract with,” Crigler said.
She added TCAD attempted to reach back out to the third-party they had traditionally relied on in the past but had no luck, and said they “were unwilling to do so, so we had a real struggle this past year trying to get market data for specifically residential properties so that we could re-appraise.”
Crigler added, “We continue to explore other ways of getting market data so that hopefully it’s not an ongoing issue.”
The chief appraiser also said their “doors are open” for anyone who is willing to share data with the appraisal district.
“We need specific data, we can’t use aggregate data because of the rules and the laws that we have to follow. We need to have very specific sales and market data,” Crigler said. “We continue to explore other avenues to acquire the data and we’re hopeful that we can have a different resolution for next year.”
Despite the lack of market data for residential properties, about 145,000 will see a change as TCAD considers other factors including changes such as new construction, property characteristics and ownership. Around 84,000 residential property owners will see a spike in their assessed value due to homestead exemption protections.
Those who do not have access to the internet can file a protest by mail or the dropbox outside the TCAD office.
TCAD officials will host a free webinar on Monday at noon to help guide property owners through the 2020 protest process.
The deadline to file a protest is May 15th. The chief appraiser said she plans to move forward with the June Travis Appraisal Review Board hearings for now, but will change those plans depending on what happens with COVID-19.