Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Leander and Cedar Park areas continue to see record-breaking year-over-year growth in appraised value, according to preliminary Williamson Central Appraisal District data.

Appraised value is the market value of a home, or what a buyer is willing to pay for the home at the current market price. With low housing inventory in Central Texas and high demand, market values have increased at an aggressive rate, WCAD Chief Appraiser Alvin Lankford said in a presentation to the county commissioners in May.

As of Jan. 1, the city of Leander’s total appraised value grew 27.14% year over year with a 29.1% increase in residential total appraised value.

In the city of Cedar Park, the total appraised value grew by 16.2% year over year while the residential total market value grew by 19.89%.

Similarly in Leander ISD, the total appraised value grew by 20.14% year over year with an 18.92% increase in residential total appraised value.

But the growth is being seen across the county as well as the greater metro area, Lankford said.

In his presentation, he said Williamson County is slated to see a $14.6 billion year-over-year increase in appraised value, a 19% jump. In 2020, the year-over-year increase was $4.59 billion from the year prior.

While he does not have firm data, Lankford said anecdotally he has heard the Austin metro is seeing the highest year-over-year increase in appraised value compared to other metros in the state.

“Travis County is going up tremendously. Hays County is going up tremendously,” Lankford said. ”The numbers I’m hearing out of Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston are more moderate ... like 8%-12%. That’s a great year; we just haven’t seen this.”

The appraised value minus exemptions is used to determine owed property taxes to a taxing entity. The WCAD is not a taxing entity; it determines home values based on the market as of Jan. 1. Common taxing entities include counties, cities and school districts.

Taxing entities determine tax rates based on WCAD appraisal information. If an entity does not reduce its tax rate equivalent to the rate of increased values, property owners are likely to see their owed taxes increase.

“[The WCAD] represent[s] only one side of that equation,” Lankford said. “It was designed that way when they created appraisal districts to create a separation from the value and the rate. That way [voters] can go to their elected officials on the rate, but the value should follow the market.”

The median home values in Williamson County also saw an increase of 18.05% to $323,450, up from $273,988 the year prior. The year-over-year median home value in Leander grew by 20.01%, and the median home price in LISD grew by 19.45%. The Cedar Park median price dropped by 14.52%, according to appraisal data.

“When you look back at the [start] of the pandemic, no one was predicting this level of increase,” Lankford said. “In fact, during the pandemic, most people were predicting decrease, and to see what happened after that, it just tells us even industry experts aren’t sure when you have global things like [the coronavirus pandemic] occur, what that means locally.”