If you own a home, an important update from the county tax appraisal office just hit your mailbox. More than likely it was a big increase from last year and that means you have some options.

Tricia Tumlinson, a real estate advisor with The Tumlinson Group at Douglas Elliman, joined Studio 512 Co-Host Stephanie Gilbert to tell us about what you can do to help lower your property taxes.

What can homeowners do?

“Every spring, property owners whose market value has increased by at least $1,000 over the last year receive a ‘Notice of Appraised Value’ from the county appraisal district. This notice contains three important values. The first is ‘Market Value.’ This is the value based on what your property would sell for as of January 1. The second is ‘Assessed Value.’ This is the reduced value of your property based on limitations provided by having a homestead exemption. And the third is ‘Taxable Value.’ This is the assessed value minus any exemption amounts and it is the value used to calculate your property taxes. This notice is an estimate of what taxpayers will owe when their final bill is issued in the fall. This year property owners have seen their market value increase by over 50%.”

50% is a lot! What can homeowners due to protect themselves from this increased tax burden?

“The first is to file a homestead exemption. This keeps the county from raising your assessed value by more than 10% annually. This exemption is available to owner-occupied properties only and is limited to one property in Texas.”

“Secondly, property owners reserve the right to protest their tax assessed value annually. The deadline to file your protest this year is May 16. If you choose to protest the value of your property, you can initiate the protest online, by mail, or in person. Online is by far the easiest and fastest way to initiate and manage your protest. When you dispute your tax assessed market value, you’ll need to provide evidence to support a lower value. Some examples of evidence are settlement statements from a recent sale of the property and comparable home sales in the area which your trust real estate advisor can provide.”

Can property owners dispute their property tax value themselves?

“If you bought your house in the last six months, you can often use the settlement statement provided by the title company as evidence of a value less than your tax appraised value. If you have this evidence, it is simple and easy to dispute your tax value yourself, but if you’ve owned your property for a few years it may be hard to prove that your market value has not increased. Personally, I think it’s easier to hire an agency, such as Home Tax Shield, Texas Protax, or 5 Stone, to help dispute your property taxes. You can expect to pay a flat fee usually $15-30 to file the dispute and then a percentage of the savings — often 30% which they only make if they are able to lower your tax value.”

To achieve your financial goals through real estate and order your free copy of “How to Sell Homes Fast for Top Dollar,” go to TheTumlinsonGroup.com.

This segment is paid for by The Tumlinson Group at Douglas Elliman and is intended as an advertisement. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.