The increase points to a highly active Austin housing market and rapid population growth, a TCAD representative said.
“That’s being driven by substantial increases in the residential market. It’s a mixed increase in commercial sectors,” said Marya Crigler, TCAD Chief Appraiser, in a May 4 presentation to Travis County commissioners.
While the values for some commercial properties have decreased over the past year—those associated with industries such as hospitality and retail—office buildings have shown moderate appreciation, Crigler said.
The value of residential properties, however, has skyrocketed across the board as low housing inventory collided with heightened interest in single-family homes in Austin. From January 2020 to January 2021, the level of housing inventory in Travis County reduced from 1.6 months to 0.4 months. As of March, Austin-Round Rock area home prices had hit a median $425,000, an all-time high. Consequently, residential property owners will see higher appraisals, and will likely pay a larger share of the county’s taxes than in years past.
“In 2021 we will see a shift in the tax burden,” Crigler said. “In 2020, residential represented 53% of the overall taxable value in the county and commercials represented 42%, in 2021, we are showing that residential is going to represent 57% and commercial will represent 39%.”
TCAD did not update property appraisals last year due to a legal dispute with the Austin Board of Realtors, an organization that had previously provided real estate data through a third party that TCAD uses to assess property values. Texas is a non-disclosure state, meaning real estate market data is not public record and appraisers must generally rely on third-party data. TCAD now contracts with Carahsoft Technology Corp. and TransUnion to access market data.
The extra year of appreciation may further contribute to increases in appraised value. Property owners can, however, protest TCAD’s assessment if they believe the assessed market value of their home or property is incorrect. The deadline to file a protest is May 17. Crigler said she expects between 140,000 and 160,000 of the 389,530 appraisals sent out to have protests filed. That would be a record, although not “substantially more” than in the current record year of 2019, she said.
TCAD will send certified estimates to taxing entities by late July, and expects to complete protests by the end of August.
Protests can be filed by mail, in person at the TCAD office drop box, or online at www.traviscad.org/protests.