Home and land appraisal notices arrived in Montgomery County residents’ mailboxes beginning April 1, and they will continue to arrive through May, said Tony Belinoski, chief appraiser for the Montgomery Central Appraisal District. Appraisals help dictate what property taxes the property owners will have to pay later in the year.
Belinoski said residential and land appraisals are based on a Jan. 1 market value, or the value of the property on the open market as of Jan. 1 of that year. However, if homeowners or landowners disagree with their appraisal, the deadline to protest is May 15, or 30 days from the date on their notice, whichever is later.
Residents can protest their appraisal by mail, by bringing a paper protest form to the MCAD office or electronically on the MCAD website. Only residents who have been provided with an online protest ID can protest online, Belinoski said.
The MCAD also offers an informal review process, where property owners can come to the MCAD office and speak with an appraiser to discuss their property appraisal, he said. Property owners can bring evidence, including repair estimates and comparable sales data to prove an incorrect appraisal value, according to Belinoski.
After informally reviewing the appraisal, an appraiser can change the appraised value if they deem it necessary, and the resident can either sign an agreement or, upon disagreement, attend a scheduled formal hearing at a later date with the Appraisal Review Board.
Hearings will take place from May 15 through July 25, so Belinoski said the sooner residents come in, the shorter lines will be to speak to an appraiser.
“Our staff is here to go through everything that we used on the evaluation of the property and make any adjustments that we feel necessary,” Belinoski said.
The average market value of residential properties in the county with active homestead exemptions—which removes part of the value of the property from taxation and lowers an individual’s property taxes—has risen 5.4% from $269,959 in 2018 to $284,668 in 2019, according to MCAD data. The 2019 data is based on preliminary values, Belinoski said.
“We use market sales transactions that we’re able to obtain throughout the previous tax year. Land transactions don’t happen as often, so we may use a few more years of data in order to come up with a valuation so we have a somewhat representative sample,” Belinoski said. “I don’t want to reevaluate an entire county of land on 20 sales.”
The MCAD does not see the sales prices for every home or land transaction that occurs in the county since Texas is not a full-disclosure state, he said, which makes appraisals more difficult. He said while there are approximately 30,000-50,000 residential transactions per year, the appraisal district only sees sales prices for 6,000-9,000 of those transactions to evaluate all 195,000 residential properties in the county—and even less with land.
Some residents may not have received a land appraisal for several years due to the lack of data available for land transactions, Belinoski said.
“We don’t make the market, we try to follow the market and be representative of what the market is telling us to do. Sometimes we lag behind that market going up, and sometimes we lag behind the market going down,” Belinoski said.