Property Tax Bill going out and going up

Property tax notices are going out but once again, for many, values have gone up.

Last year 107,000 people went to the Travis Central Appraisal District office to protest their property tax bill. With a similar amount expected to file a protest this year, signs were posted at the front doors, Tuesday, to discourage unscheduled walk-ups.

"We have until July 25th to process those and so it’s a lot of work to do in a really short time period."

Homeowners have until May 31st to file a protest. It's recommended you set things up on line in order to get a faster hearing date.

Jesse Alvarado is among those dreading the arrival of his new tax bill. In the 40 years he's live at the corner of Comal St. and Haskell. Alvarado has seen the departure of several neighbors many left because they could no longer afford to live here, and he is worried it will also happen to him.

"In a couple of years, if not sooner, we are going to have to move, can’t afford to pay taxes...Oh it’s terrible, we like the neighborhood, been here for so long, we don’t want to leave."

State law prevents taxable value assessments for residential properties, from exceeding 10% in a single year. The increase in Travis County for 2016 is at 8.7%.

"And that is just a reflection of our Austin market.”

Down the road property values are expected to continue to increase. The one main factor driving that; a lack of competition.

Aaron Farmer, president of the Austin Board of Realtors, believes the growth in property values would slow if the city would relax some of its development regulations.

"If we can get more supply, if we can get more inventory that’s going to help things, that’s when things are going to catch up, right now we have about a 2.1 month's supply of inventory in the market right now." 

The city's transportation problem, according to Farmer, is also a contributing factor. Homes closer to the city core can cost more because the commute to work, in theory, is far less than coming in from the suburbs.

According to the Austin Board of Realtors; in January the median price for a single family home was just under $255-thousand. That’s a 6% price hike from a year ago.

February 2016 Statistics:                                                                                                                      

  • 1,783 – Single-family homes sold, 2.9 percent more than February 2015.
  • $269,900 – Median price for single-family homes, 8.0 percent more than February 2015.
  • $333,011 – Average price for single-family homes, 7.6 percent more than February 2015.
  • 62 – Average number of days single-family homes spent on the market, three days more than February 2015.
  • 2,793 – New single-family home listings on the market, 11.1 percent more than February 2015.
  • 4,871 – Active single-family home listings on the market, 10 percent more than February 2015.
  • 2,346 – Pending sales for single-family homes, 12.3 percent more than February 2015.
  • 2.1 – Months of inventory* of single-family homes, 0.1 months more than February 2015.
  • $593,758,953– Total dollar volume of single-family properties sold, 10.7 percent more than February 2015.

Market prices do fluctuate and that can help win a tax protest. But you got to do your homework if you want to win, according to Farmer.

"What you have to do is try to get them to change that matrix, and say you know what this home is more comparable to the one you are using, and that’s how you get them to lower the assessment, you have to fight each individual property they are using as a comparable.

There is another element to this tax hike dilemma that no one may be able to control. Many new residents are moving to Austin from cities where housing prices are much higher. For them -- taxes here are low and it’s still somewhat of a buyers’ market.