Jack’s Property Tax Valuation is Jacked: This Week’s Consultation
For educational purposes, I am sharing this actual email (with a few minor modifications) of an email conversation I had yesterday with a friend / client to help him appeal his Travis County property tax valuation.
Dear Jack (not his real name),
You can and should share all of this information including my commentary with the tax folks.
First, my big fat disclosure: (my broker requires that I cover this) …these are some similar homes that sold in the area between June 2009 and January 2010. I am not an expert on tax appeals but I do have access to MLS sold data that may be of help to you. These comps may or may not be acceptable comps for the Tax District Review. You’re not going to hold me accountable to your tax appeal results. There are services that do this for a fee such as www.texasprotax.com and you may find some helpful information on their site.
With that out of the way, tell the tax person that your Realtor ran these comps for you and you think they are a very good representation of sold properties in the area. We did not cherry pick (or bottom pick) the list. Tell them that I have coached many people into not appealing their taxes because of lack of comps. But that in reviewing yours (especially 2009), it is one of the most seriously off valuations I have seen this year (and I am not one to exaggerate).
Everything I looked at was a sold property from June 2009 through January 2010 for homes 1100-1300 sqft. (Note: in this case, Jack’s home valuation was so off that we were actually looking at the highest comps in Windsor to make our point; in most cases, we would thoroughly scour the sold properties to find 3-6 that were seriously close comparisons … depending on the house, maybe a couple high, a couple medium and a couple low … or maybe all medium or all low but they should all be reasonable and hold up to debate.)
First, if we pull Windsor for that time frame, the highest sale is $254k, next is $208k and next is $190k … those are the 3 highest sales. Keep in mind that “Windsor Park” has about 3 sections in area 3 and yours is not close to 51st Street and Mueller as the others are. (Link with actual sold data provided to Jack here, but we’ll skip that part for the blog.)
My next step was to draw a polygon on the map for the best representation of Windsor Park. The numbers in this group are lower than the section above. The 3 highest sales in this group are $180k – $187k. Again, no cherry picking … these are the highest comps. Here are these 3 comps (again, print out each page): (another link provided here for Jack but omitted from blog)
Remind them that all 6 properties here the highest sales. And that you’re not convinced that yours would be one of the highest but you’re trying to make a point for them to take your comps seriously.
At this point tell them what you paid in 2007 and that the house is moderately updated, in good condition, carport, poorly insulated and that you just want fair value for what homes are selling for in the neighborhood. You may want to remind them at this point that the $312k valuation in 2009 was so egregious that your Realtor is still lecturing you for not appealing last year.
Just for a sanity check, I ran 78723, homes under 1500 sqft, same sold timeframe and built less than 1990 (no new construction), and the 4 highest comps were $242k – $254k … totally supporting the above analysis. (I may use this as a blog post … don’t tell them that.)
There you go. Tell all your friends and colleagues how fabulous I am … serious.
Love you guys,
(Note: A credible real estate professional should be able to provide this type of guidance and value to their clients. I think I just earned a few referrals.)
(Post appeal note: Jack called and they found that the Tax District records had an error with the age of the house … by 50 years! The house was built in the 50’s, not 2003. The new valuation with comps Jack provided and the corrected year: about $220k, down from $263k. Nice.)
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