The Tax Doctor Is In: Fight for Your Property Values

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A reader writes:

We are somewhat new homeowners living in Lake Highlands (75238) where the Dallas CAD has our property values all over the place.  Our home is not updated, except for one bathroom.  We are appraising on the CAD for $215K.  What is frustrating is that my next door neighbor (I have not been in his house), has a little more sq feet, new roof, and house looks great on the outside. His appraisal is $165K, so he is paying over $1,000 less in taxes a year.

My questions to you…

-Is it worth the time and effort to fight the appraisal?

-We did put a lot of sweat equity in our landscaping this past year, does that hurt us?  Are they actually driving by and making appraisals based on curb appeal?

-What is the best way to fight the appraisal?

I appreciate your insight, we are grateful to be homeowners but find it extremely discouraging when we see our neighbor’s homes with the $20K kitchen remodels, extra sq. footage, etc and know that we are paying more in taxes than they are.

Leeanne,

  1. Is it worth the time and effort the fight the appraisal? Absolutely. Fighting your value will provide you savings not only for this year, but for future years. As property values begin to rise, keeping the tax base low will keep the 10% allowable increase correspondingly low.
  2. Landscaping won’t directly increase the value. Yes, the District does to drive-bys, but in large, the computer is mass appraising the neighborhood. Computers don’t take into account curb appeal. What is attractive to you, may not be attractive to another. Keep in mind that the District does keep an eye on the permits taken out on the property. Those CAN directly increase the value of the home.
  3. The best way to fight your appraisal is NOT to take in an equity argument—ie  my next door neighbor (I have not been in his house), has a little more sq feet, new roof, house looks great on the outside and his appraisal is $165K, so he is paying over $1,000 less in taxes a year. These types are of arguments are most successful in litigation and they are not as persuasive at the ARB level. You should focus on how the other homes are selling the area. Speak with a realtor to obtain comparable sales or hire a professional to represent you. You will need to make adjustments to the comparable sales based on land, size, pool, year built, class, etc. Also when appearing at the ARB hearing, be professional and respectful. The ARB is like a jury. You want them to like you.

Thanks! The Tax Doctor