WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — There’s a special section on the Williamson Central Appraisal District website that fast-tracks the process for new homeowners. This comes as Central Texas home values have increased sharply this year — Williamson County estimates some neighborhoods saw a 40% bump from last year.

Appraisal districts and homeowners are busy this time of year finalizing property appraisal values. How much people pay in taxes are based on these values, so homeowners try to keep them as low as possible. Most are also protected on a 10% cap on the increases, but not new homeowners.

People who bought homes in Williamson County between Jan. 1, 2021 and March 31 of this year with an appraised value higher than what they paid for their house can use this online service, instead of going through the full protest process. They will have to provide sales documents and have a valid email address. They have until May 12 to submit their information and can expect a response within 10 days.

WCAD started this express process for new homeowners several years ago, according to Chief Appraiser Alvin Lankford and said it “certainly streamlines the protest.” He estimated they see 2,000-3,000 filed each year and noted it saves people a trip to the office. So far this year more than 2,200 have been filed, and the office is working to respond to each.

What new homeowners should do in Travis County

While there isn’t a specific section on Travis Central Appraisal District’s site designed to streamline the process specifically for new homeowners, communications officer Cynthia Martinez said anyone can use its e-file process, which works in a similar way.

People can upload documents online to protest their market value (in the case of new homeowners, they should provide their sales documents). TCAD’s appraisers will review it and send people an electronic offer. From there, homeowners can accept it or go on to an informal hearing where they can get feedback on their documents before heading to the formal Appraisal Review Board hearing.

TCAD is holding a webinar on the protest process at 11:30 a.m., April 27, and will upload it to the site afterward as well. It also held a webinar in March specifically for new homeowners.

Market values are also up in Travis County. Last week, TCAD reported the 2022 median market value for a home was $632,208 and said some areas are seeing 40%, 50% or even higher market value increases.

What new homeowners should do in Hays County

Hays Central Appraisal District also has only one process for all homeowners, and it can be done online. It suggests new homeowners provide a copy of an official sales document as evidence.

Hays County also reported values in some areas increasing as much as 40%.

“A record number of property transfers occurred during the last year and the values on those transactions were extraordinary,” HCAD said in a release earlier this month when it announced appraisal notices had gone out.

Hays CAD also suggests homeowners file for a homestead exemption, which can lower their tax liability. Anyone in Central Texas can file for this exemption.