African Americans cannot afford to lose their homes and property due to significantly inflated property values, without putting up a fight.
Nobody really likes paying property taxes, and chances are you probably almost fainted when you opened up your property tax bill and saw how much your county appraisal district is stating your property is valued at this tax year.
Many times, the increase in the average property owner’s market value can be so shocking and unbelievable that they begin to worry and panic, not knowing how in the world they will be able to find the money to cover this unexpected increase.
All is not lost. Here is a bit of advice.
Protest the value of your property!
Did you even know that you can protest the property value assigned to your home or commercial property by the county appraisal district? If you didn’t know before, now you do.
Every property owner should strongly consider protesting their property’s market value, as often as they are allowed to do so. Protesting the assessed value of the property could potentially and significantly reduce your proposed property tax burden for the tax year.
Property Taxes are based on the value of the property being taxed. These are also known as “ad valorem” taxes. Your property taxes are based on the assessed value of your property.
According to Alfonso Watts, a Commercial Property Tax Consultant with O’Connor Commercial Tax Reduction Experts, the remedy to lessen the property tax burden that property owners face is to protest the “value” of your property, according to the rights you have granted to you by the Texas State Constitution and the Property Tax Code.
“This is a great year to protest,” said Watts. “This was a historic year and there were a lot of property sales, but if your property didn’t sell and you had no major changes to your property, these are just a few components that can differentiate your property from another property in the area that may be driving your property value higher.”
Watts contends that there are several misunderstandings regarding protesting your property values.
A major one is that a property owner’s inability to pay as the taxes continue to increase is a good defense.
“I’ve seen many people lose their homes and property because they couldn’t continue to keep up with the steady increase year after year,” said Watts. “There is a misconception that owners don’t want to bring their property value down just in case they want to sell their house. People need to understand that the appraisal district will give two values for your property. One is the market value, and the other is the assessed value or appraisal value. In many cases, these are not the same. The appraisal district is not raising your taxes, they are raising your value, which is why I strongly encourage everyone to protest. You have nothing to lose!”
Real estate mogul Gerald Womack has seen the significant increase in property values across the Greater Houston area since starting his career over 30 years ago, especially in Houston’s historic Third Ward community, where he was one of the first real estate investors. He is a staunch advocate for protesting your property values, whether residential or commercial.
“It is extremely important to protest your property taxes no matter the value,” said Womack, who serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Womack Development & Investment. “In Harris County alone, the average home value has increased 21% since last year with 95% of homeowners seeing an increase. Once a value is deemed certified by the appraisal district it is nearly impossible to get that value reverted back to the previous year’s value.”
Womack believes that too many African Americans fall victim to the system because they simply just don’t know or understand the process.
“Knowledge is power when it comes to protesting property taxes, as I’ve learned that many people do not even know they can protest their values,” said Womack. “There are also so many people who do not know about the importance of the various exemptions they may qualify for. The most widely known is the homestead exemption, but there are also the 65 and over exemption, 100% disabled veterans’ exemption, and over 55 surviving spouse exemption. We must equip ourselves with the knowledge and seek help wherever needed.”
According to county appraisal district representatives, some of the information and documents you can gather to ensure you are able to have an effective protest argument and increase your chances of having the property value reduced are: your closing statement, if your property was purchased within the last year; an appraisal report for your property; any added features to your home or property; any issues with your home or property; records or evidence of home or property sales from neighboring properties in your area; the local school district; safety/crime in the area; photos of your property; photos of nearby properties that are similar to yours; any neighborhood blight or properties that are not in tip-top shape; receipts or estimates in writing for any repairs you had done; architectural drawings or blueprints; engineering reports; property surveys; deed records; social media or newspaper reports about the area, and any other evidence or information you think would help make your case.
If you are in Harris County, for homestead properties, the early protest deadline is April 30, 2022, or 30 days after the date the appraisal district sends a notice of appraised value, whichever is later. If a homeowner misses the new early deadline, the regular protest deadline of May 15, 2022, applies. In the case of other real property (land and buildings), the protest deadline is May 15, 2022. A later protest deadline may apply if the Harris County Appraisal District mails your notice of appraised value after May 1, 2022. The May 15, 2022, deadline also applies to business and industrial personal property accounts. In all cases where there is a later protest deadline, the date will be printed on the notice of appraised value.
If you have any questions concerning protesting your market value, please call the Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) by telephone at 713-957-7800, visit online at www.hcad.org., or visit the HCAD offices located at 13013 Northwest Freeway or any Harris County Tax Office.
If you are in Fort Bend County, the deadline for residents to protest their appraised property values as set by the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District is no later than May 16, 2022, or within 30 days after a notice of appraised value was mailed to you, whichever is later.
If you have any questions concerning protesting your market value, please call the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District’s customer service at 281.344.8623 or email email@example.com.
When it comes to wealth development, one of the primary ways that African American families have been able to accumulate that wealth over the years has been through home ownership.
According to the National Association of Realtors, more Americans own a home now than in any year following the Great Recession, with the rate of homeownership in the U.S. climbing to 65.5 percent in 2020—a 1.3 percent increase from 2019, and the largest annual increase on record.
Black homeownership is at 43.4 percent, and it remains lower than it was a decade ago. Black homeownership is nearly 30 percentage points behind White homeownership (72.1 percent), while Hispanic homeownership rose to an all-time high (over 50 percent for the first time) and Asian homeownership increased (61.7 percent).
Home ownership is important, so fight for it, and fight for it every year.
Think about it…if you NEVER say anything about your property value going higher and higher, then they will just keep raising your property value year after year, which will cause your property tax bill to go higher and higher as well.
Do your family and favor and protest!