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North Texas property owners prepare for another year of protesting appraisals

Some landlords stress renters may have to help bear the burden of increased property taxes in some cases.

FORT WORTH, Texas — People across North Texas are in shock after opening their new home appraisals. Property values in some cases have increased by double digits percentages.

Dallas County and Collin County haven't released official numbers yet, but the values have gone up by 18% in Tarrant County and by 16% in Kaufman County. 

The increases impact more than just actual property owners, too. Even people just renting property could end up feeling the pinch.

Michael Seeto started buying property to rent out years ago. His goal has always been to make sure the amount of rent he charges covers the cost of the mortgage with some level of profit each month. 

But when property values and appraisals went through the roof, it impacted his bottom line tremendously as a landlord.

"Landlords have to pass that extra cost to somebody," said Seeto. 

This year, Seeto hopes to get his Tarrant County property appraisals a lot lower. He has investment properties throughout North Texas, including a huge multi-unit apartment building.

Seeto also provides housing to families living in his properties, which includes more than one duplex in the Fort Worth area and several other single-family units. 

As far as his 2023 property appraisals, he hopes he doesn't have to raise the rent amounts. 

Seeto said, "This year, we've seen some properties going up as high as from 30% to as high as 45% in terms of what we're paying last year."

Right now, the folks in charge of notifying property owners like Seeto about their values are getting hit hard with inquiries for this year's appraised amounts. Many are going online for answers and frequently asked questions. 

But, if you run into issues logging onto the Tarrant Appraisal District website, chief appraiser Jeff Law says don't fret.

"I believe it's just running a little bit slow due to the heavy traffic that we're experiencing right now," Law said.

Law also encourages people not only to take advantage of exemptions, but also do some appraisal homework. 

"I recommend that they go look and see what properties are selling for in their neighborhood and then then make it then make that decision of whether or not they feel like they need to file a protest," said Law.

The property appraisals are sent prior to the actual tax bill being sent to owners. The deadline to protest the appraisals is May 15, 2023. 

Law shared with WFAA that his office does not track who does or does not take advantage of property tax exemptions. But, they do follow state guidelines to help educate the public about exemptions. 

Law urges property owners to apply for exemptions regardless of their appraisal amounts. 

"It will give them a tax break," said Law, "but it'll also establish an appraisal cap, a 10% appraisal cap on their property. It's hard to say who is not taking advantage of that. We're required by law to publish in the newspaper notifications, encouraging folks to do that."

After the appraisal period, property owners will eventually get their actual tax bills in the mail. 

"The tax bills will come out in October. What we have mailed out right now is called a notice of appraised value and that the purpose of this appraisal notice is to inform property owners of what their appraisal district has appraised their property, at this particular moment, this particular year," said Law. "And I would say it can be kind of surprising as to what the values have done over the past several years."

Law and his staff at the Tarrant Appraisal District (TAD) are available to help property owners who are having trouble navigating their way through the appraisal season. Their goal is to offer as much information as possible so people can make wise decisions about what is usually a family's largest investment. That guidance includes information on their website about how to protest your appraisal.

Nobody knows property appraisal protesting like Chandler Crouch of Fort Worth. He's challenged appraisal amounts for tens of thousands of property owners and will do so again this year. 

Chandler fears some people losing their homes because of high appraisals.  

"For people that are getting foreclosed, your notices because they can't pay their taxes. I say reach out for help. Reach out to me," said Crouch. "Unfortunately, I'm not very optimistic with the current climate right now. Legislators in Austin believe that they are going to pass meaningful tax reform and for their standards, it's probably right. These are monumental bills that they're looking at. But for my standards as a homeowner, it's just a Band-Aid. Next year, no matter what they pass this year, next year, it's just we're going to have to start all over again."

Based on the economy this year, Crouch believes property owners who protest their appraisals have a better chance at saving money. One of those people who plans to challenge TAD is Seeto, who shared he's also dealing with other unexpected increases.

"I try to protest each and every year," said Seeto. "I think this year, compared to other years, we're dealing with not just a property tax as a landlord, we're also dealing with the insurance. Insurance seems to have really jumped this year compared to last year."

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