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Let the protests begin: Hot Texas housing market leads to increased property tax appraisals

Many homeowners may be missing out on one of the biggest tools to limit their increases

DALLAS — If you are like many Texas homeowners, you may have started 2021 in a modest home. But as prices soared and you became more and more "house rich", it may have felt like you ended the year in a fancy estate. 

But now comes the tax appraisal.   

It’s great to see your home go up in value, but the appraisal value can strike fear in many, because it is used to determine how much you will pay in property taxes several months from now when the cities, counties, school districts, hospital districts, water districts and other taxing authorities set their budgets, tax rates and they charge property owners.  

Some appraisal districts are better than others at responding to requests for specific data, but just looking at some figures from some North Texas districts, there are some important takeaways. First, it appears that almost everybody is going up in value.  

Appraisals up across the board

If you look at residential appraisals from the Dallas and Collin Central Appraisal Districts, there is a huge contrast between the number of properties that decreased in value, didn’t change in value, and increased in value between 2021 and 2022: 

2021 property appraisals Dallas CAD 

  • Decreased 35,844  
  • Unchanged 395,690  
  • Increased 228,246  

2022 property appraisals Dallas CAD 

  • Decreasing 12,637  
  • Unchanged  59,141  
  • Increasing 592,637  

Look at the same trend in Collin County: 

2021 property appraisals Collin CAD 

  • Decreased 16,638 
  • Unchanged  27,871 
  • Increased 243,813  

  2022 property appraisals Collin CAD 

  • Decreasing 1,976  
  • Unchanged 841  
  • Increasing 292,817  

The Tarrant CAD said the “majority” of property appraisals are increasing in 2022, and the Denton CAD expects 80-90% of appraisals to be up.   

Appraisals reflecting Texas home prices

This is all a reflection of what happened in many Texas housing markets in 2021. According to the Texas Real Estate Research Center, these are the median home price changes that  occurred in the following large Texas metros: 

  • D-FW: +$67,024  
  • Houston: +$56,360   
  • Austin: +$106,600    
  • San Antonio: +$50,100  

That run up in real estate prices was especially beneficial for homeowners who were in the market to sell, but potentially more costly if you’re staying put and having to pay taxes, because the pricing frenzy must be reflected in property tax appraisals.  

Appraisal protests

Chandler Crouch, of Chandler Crouch Realtors, is offering a free tax protest service for homeowners in Tarrant County, something he has been doing for years. This is the site Crouch has set up. 

And a big bonus, if you are considering protesting your appraisal this year, Crouch joined the Y'all-itics Texas political podcast this week to lay out everything you should know in the episode, "This Might be Your Best Year to Fight Property Tax Appraisals".

As he did in 2021, Ben Lauer of the Ben Lauer Real Estate Group is offering a free service to help people interested in protesting their property tax appraisals in Dallas County. 

This year, he is also offering that free assistance to homeowners interested in protesting in Collin and Rockwall Counties. This is the site Lauer has set up. 

Homestead Exemptions  

Homeowners can help themselves a lot as well. 

Lauer said he encounters many eligible people who have not gotten a homestead exemption for their property. 

“I run into people every single year who have been living in their houses for a long time who just never got around to it…or for whatever reason don't have their homestead exemption. That'll take about 25 to 30% off your taxes right off the top, and it caps your increase at about 10%," said Lauer. 

A surprising number from the Dallas CAD: When WFAA asked, they said that out of more than 600,000 residences, only about half had homestead exemptions. Some of those residences don’t qualify for such an exemption because they are rental houses or the owner doesn’t occupy the home, but a lot of homeowners may be missing out big. 

Look at your appraisal that arrived in the mail or look up your appraisal through your county’s central appraisal district. Is the word homestead anywhere on it along with a reduction in taxable value? If you don’t have the homestead exemption and you owned the home before Jan. 1, you have until April 30 to apply for it.  

And this is new if you weren’t in the home on Jan. 1, it used to be that you couldn’t get a homestead exemption until after the next Jan. 1. 

But now, if you buy a home after Jan. 1, you may be able to qualify for a partial homestead exemption in the same year in which you bought the home. 

Click here to download the Texas Comptroller form for homestead exemptions and other exemptions for your property.