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Texas property appraisals are going out again, but you can protest them. Just make sure you have a homestead exemption first

If you don't have a homestead exemption, you have a little more time to apply. It could greatly reduce your property tax burden.

DALLAS — I have been talking lately about the sizzling real estate market in North Texas. Prices have popped by 11.96% over the last year. The good news is that may mean your home is worth a good deal more than it was a year ago. The not-so-good news is that the central appraisal district also knows that as they begin to send out annual appraisals again. 

The assessed value of your property multiplied by the tax rate is what determines your property tax bill. Considering that, each year, hundreds of thousands of North Texans protest these valuations in hopes of reducing what they will owe in taxes. But many others do not bother to contest the assessments, possibly because the process may seem intimidating, despite how-to videos offered by some appraisal districts.  

RELATED: Property tax sticker shock arriving in D-FW mailboxes this week

Protesting appraisals

Enter Chandler Crouch, a realtor in Tarrant County who went viral several years ago after he began creating videos for how to protest appraisals and then started offering free assistance for property owners to file appraisal protests online for property owners in Tarrant County

Click here to go to his appraisal protest site, https://freetaxprotest.com/.

Realtor Ben Lauer, of the Ben Lauer Real Estate Group, is offering a similar service for property owners in Dallas County, "We will get you a market analysis and broker price opinion and then we walk you through the online dispute process and it really takes you only about five minutes and you can do it from the comfort of your own home". 

Click here to go to his appraisal protest site, https://dallastaxdispute.com/.

Homestead exemptions are key

Lauer says the site will also check to see if you have a homestead exemption, which he says is essentially, “Free money…out there for everybody." He says that because the general homestead exemption is $25,000. That amount of your home’s valuation is exempted from taxation. Once you have a homestead exemption, your appraisal cannot go up more than 10 percent each year. And that also helps keeps your property taxes somewhat in check. 

If you have lived in your home since January first, you are eligible. If you did not sign up for it, it is not too late for this year. You have until April 30th to apply for it. But the state allows residents to apply for a late exemption even beyond then. 

In fact, Lauer says he has known people who have gotten a homestead exemption backdated to a prior year:

"I have had clients that have had success contacting the appraisal department and getting it backlogged to last year."

Sometimes homeowners worry that lowering their taxable value will make their home less valuable if they try to sell it. The fact is, home sales are based on the market value, which is driven by recent home sales near your property. The market value is totally separate from taxable values from the appraisal district.  

Finally, many of you had damage from the recent winter storm. You may be eligible to get an exemption for a portion of your appraised value. You must apply for that by May 28th. Click here to learn more.