Reappraisal Notices are Out--Some Tips on How to Appeal

The 2018 Bexar County property reappraisal notices have gone out, all 540,000 of them, and if you got one in the mail, that means the county thinks your property values have gone up. So what do you do now?

That higher property valuation will mean sharply higher property taxes in 2019.

Rahul Patel, Managing Partner of the law firm of Patel Gaines, which does a lot of property tax litigation, says all property owners have the right to appeal, but he says there are several steps you should take first.

First of all, check out the reappraisal notice itself, to make sure the property, amenities, and square footing it claims you have in your home and land are accurate.

"It'll say 'residential,' and then it will give you a living area and a value, and under the sub description, it will show all of the things that your home may or may not have," he said.

Since the BAD doesn't do actual inspections, he says there is a good chance that your home has been misstated on the form. If it shows, for example, that you have more square footage than you really have or you have a swimming pool when you don't, you have a red hot ground for your appeal.

Next, Patel says you should study what are called 'comparables.' That is the main item the appraisal district uses to determine the value of your home. It studies the sales prices of 'comparable' homes in your neighborhood and similar homes in similar neighborhoods.

"Try to find homes that are similar in size to age, size, and amenities like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms."

In many cases, BAD inspectors don't even 'drive by' homes any more, and the comparables will be the only real way that you can gauge the true sales value of your home.

He says many Realtors help homeowners with property appraisals, because of their access to the Multiple Listing Service, which is the most reliable guide to home prices. But he says sites like Realtor.com and Zillow.com also do a good job in keeping up to date with realistic home values.

He says after you have done your research, go into the appeal with a specific amount you think your home is really worth. If the appraisal, for example, sets the value of your property at $300,000, don't simply tell the appeals board "...well, it’s worth less than that..." He says you should instead say "I think it is worth $260,000, and these are the reasons why..."

Also, it doesn't hurt to bring in photographs and evidence of problems in your home that may help your appeal. He says this may be the only time of the year when that clunky furnace you keep meaning to fix can help you.

"Say, if you have had some issues with water building up, flooding, if you have had some issues with your roof from hail or a wind storm, if your energy bills are higher because your home isn't as energy efficient as some of the others around there."'

The deadline for filing an appeal is May 15th.

Patel says all this may sound like a hassle, but it will pay off in 2019 in lower monthly mortgage costs, because your property taxes are included in your mortgage.

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