Okay, You Have Appealed Your Property Appraisal. Now What?

Tens of thousands of Bexar County residents appealed their 2018 property appraisals ahead of last week's deadline.  So what happens now?

Real estate attorney Rahul Patel of the firm of Patel Gaines says you will get a notice in the mail advising you of an informal hearing, where you will discuss your appeal with an individual appraiser.  He says the appraisal district will try to 'work things out' with you then.

"The informal hearing is an opportunity for you to bring some information in, sit down with the appraiser, to help discuss the property, to examine the appraisal, to bring in some information, and discuss with the appraiser what you think the proper appraisal is," he said.

Patel says chances are the appraiser, if you are able to make your case, will agree to reduce your appraisal by a limited amount.

But if you still think your appraisal, which is how the county sets your property taxes, is too high, the next step is an appeal to the three member appraisal board.  He says the ARB Board can throw out the 'compromise' that you may have been offered in the informal session, and it even has the authority to determine that your appraisal is actually higher than the appraisal you received in the mail, although that seldom happens.

Patel says you will be in better shape if you do several things before your hearing.

He says you can request a copy from the appraisal district of the so called 'comparables,' the list of home sales of homes similar to yours that the district used to set your appraisal.

 "And they are required to limit their argument at the ARB hearing to this information," he said.  "They can't hit you with any surprise attack at the hearing."

He says you should also do your own research, and find comparable values that might be more appropriate to your home, including the age of the home, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the size of the lot, and the amenities that are in the home.

He also says you should closely examine the information that the appraisal district used to set your value.  Because the district doesn't actually inspect homes annually, he has found homes appraised on the basis of amenities that they don't have.He says fairness and equity is the key to appraisals.

"The case you have to make is, is my home prices equitably compared to my neighbors," he said.  "That is an equity argument, that homes are prices fairly based on price per square foot."

Patel also recommends coming up with a list of major shortfalls that you home may have compared to others with similar valuation.  Things like a lack of bedrooms and bathrooms, old or non working HVAC systems, the need of a paint job, food or hail damage, all of those things can make your home worth less on the market, and will lower its appraised value.

Patel says a key is to have a good rapport with both the appraiser in the informal hearing and also with the ARB board, he says shouting and being argumentative won't help.  Simply spell out your argument in a logical way, using as much documentation as possible.

The average home appraisal increase in Bexar County in 2018 was 9%, so there is a hefty amount in property taxes riding on your appeal.

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