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Major appraisal districts in Central Texas record fewer home appraisal protests in 2021

Both Williamson and Hays counties recorded fewer home appraisal protests this year, compared to 2020. Officials attribute change to transparency and knowledge.

AUSTIN, Texas — As home values go up across Central Texas, so do property tax bills. Yet, new data shows, not as many homeowners are protesting their home appraisal compared to last year.

In the Williamson Central Appraisal District (WCCD), there were approximately 63,000 protests (also called appeals) filed by homeowners, a 1% drop from 2020. 

Chief Appraiser Alvin Langford attributes the slight decrease to transparency. This year, the district began putting the market comparisons that were used for evaluating the property in the appraisal notes sent to homeowners. 

"Having those sales comparables and their address and their adjusted sale price on the appraisal notice, gives [homeowners] some confidence in the number that we've provided them," Langford said.

In previous years, homeowners just had to trust that the appraised value was accurate, Langford added.

Ironically, as protests decreased this year, WCCD recorded its largest increase in average home values in history, with approximately 19% on home values on average.

Over in Hays County, property appeals also dropped by 13% from 26,300 appeals in 2020 to 23,000 in 2021.  

"I believe Hays County property owners have a greater understanding of market value due to media coverage of real estate market conditions that exist in Texas and more specifically our area," said Laura Raven, chief appraiser with Hays Central Appraisal District. 

Meanwhile, Travis Central Appraisal District (TCAD) saw a different trend, with homeowners filing 10,000 more appraisal protests this year compared to 2020, when 124,000 were filed.

Cynthia Martinez, a communications officer with TCAD, said the number of protests is still down compared to their all-time high in 2019 when 147,000 homeowners filed. 

A few years ago, TCAD did a survey that found the biggest reason people file protests is they do not want to pay high property taxes, according to Martinez. 

"People don't protest their property taxes and I think that is a common misconception. People are actually protesting the value assigned to their property," Martinez said. "Realistically if someone wants to dispute their taxes, they need to be going to the hearings that the tax entities are setting." 

In 2019, the Texas legislature made massive changes to property taxes, and one of those changes makes it so much easier for Texas taxpayers to understand how the property tax system works.

Appraisal districts are now required to have websites that homeowners can easily access to get the information that determines their own property tax bill. 

For example, Travis County homeowners can go to travistaxes.com to see their tax bill and see when tax entities will hold their hearings for tax rates in the fall. 

In addition, Texas REALTORS created a website for Texans that acts as a one-stop-shop for property tax information. Homeowners can search their county, and the website will direct them to the correct resources.

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