Homeowners next to Cambria Cavern upset about property appraisal

Williamson County

Home values continue to rise every year, which means higher property taxes. It’s up to homeowners who disagree with their appraisal to do something about it.

Tim Kelley hasn’t been able to park in his driveway in more than two months, since the Cambria Cave roof collapse; the opening is just feet from his house. “It’s fairly frustrating but it’s more so for my wife than me because she has to carry heavy things in.”

Kelley assumed the cave would lower his property value, but his 2018 appraisal increased by more than $12,000, to $310,651. He says the Williamson Central Appraisal District told him there isn’t another house near the cave that’s in the same situation, so they can’t compare values.

“They’ve already admitted I’m affected by the cave, but they don’t know how to do it,” explains Kelley. It’s not fair to just leave the house as is and pretend there’s no cave, because they know that’s an overestimate, they could subtract something.”

The district says assessed values take effect Jan. 1—the cave was discovered in February, so they say Kelley’s value is still pending. They told him to protest the assessment.

While Kelley’s case is a unique one, homeowners across Williamson County are expected to line up to protest their appraisals this spring.

Last year, 42,493 homeowners in Williamson County protested their appraisals to bring their tax bills down. More than half of them got results, 23,082 people. But the average amount their home values changed was only by $1,963.

Kelley is trying to get a free market analysis through his realtor. If that doesn’t work, he’s considering paying up to $500 for an independent appraisal, but it’s a risk. “If I felt like the county would accept it and agree with it, [but] they could always turn me down and if they do, I’m out the $500.”

The Williamson Central Appraisal District says an appraisal holds more weight than a market analysis when they consider lowering property values. An appraiser makes adjustments based on specific features of a home. A realtor is not an appraisal expert and looks at home sales that have similar square footage and price when doing a market analysis.

In Travis County, more than 127,000 homeowners protested their appraisals last year. Many of them got both their market and assessed values reduced. Most used a professional to protest.

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