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Attention Texas homeowners: You may have thrown away big money if you discarded a certain envelope from the appraisal district

Appraisals are up sharply in many big Texas counties, yet some homeowners are ignoring an invitation to save money.

DALLAS — We recently reported on the importance of having homestead exemptions applied to your property appraisal... and later to your property taxes. Now, we have new numbers that help to illustrate this.

Increasing appraisals

Appraisals are based on sales of comparable properties near yours, and in many parts of Texas, those home sales prices have shot up. These are the overall changes in appraised value for residences in some large Texas counties from 2022 to 2023:

  • Dallas: Up 13%
  • Tarrant: Up 18%
  • Collin: Up 18%
  • Denton: Up 25%
  • Harris: Up 16%
  • Bexar: Up 14.8%
  • Travis: Up .08%

Travis County was an outlier, rising by just a fraction over last year (when the overall increase was steeper). But other large counties saw double-digit valuation increases overall, even after big surges last year.

Some homeowners missing out on crucial homestead exemptions

Individual homeowners in some of those areas may have also seen increases of 16%, 18% or even 25%. But in many cases, their values should not be going up like that. 

Look at your appraisal front and back. It will say whether you have a homestead and homestead exemptions.

If you do, your appraised value cannot go up more than 10% each year. We asked the appraisal districts in the counties listed above for the percentage of properties with homesteads. 

Here is what they reported to us:

  • Dallas: 67%
  • Tarrant: 68%
  • Collin: 71%
  • Denton: 67%
  • Harris: 69%
  • Bexar: 62%
  • Travis: 70%

The vast majority of those residences have homesteads, but why aren’t those numbers near 100%? 

Some of those missing percentage points may not qualify for a homestead for various reasons. For instance, they may be rental homes or second homes. Only a homeowner’s primary residence can be homesteaded.

Also in those missing percentage points, there are definitely homeowners who would qualify for a homestead and the money-saving exemptions that come with it.

But for whatever reason, they have not applied for one. Some of those homeowners have even been reminded by their real estate agent or broker, and even by appraisal districts that regularly identify un-homesteaded properties that look eligible and send out notices to those homeowners. 

You almost cannot make it any easier.

Some homeowners not responding to reminders to get homesteads

At the Denton Central Appraisal District, they say they will probably send out as many as 16,000 of those "Get your homestead" notices this year. And if the usual trends hold, they expect to get back maybe just 6,000 responses.

The Collin Central Appraisal District says it mailed 47,002 homestead applications this year to homeowners who looked eligible. The notices urge the homeowners to get their homestead applications in by an April 30 deadline. That way, the exemptions can apply to this year’s property taxes. 

Yet, with a little more than a week away from the deadline, they had only gotten back 15,040 of those 47,002 homestead applications.

By not having homesteads, many people are leaving money on the table; and leaving their properties unprotected from creditors. 

You can find a homestead application on your central appraisal district’s website, or by using this form provided by the Texas Comptroller’s Office.

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