Housing market drives increase in Montgomery County property taxes
Many Montgomery County homeowners may see a significant increase in their appraised property values this spring. The increases are due in part to the rising cost of real estate in the area, said Mark Castleschouldt, chief appraiser for the Montgomery County Appraisal District.

In Montgomery County, appraised property values have increased by an average of 12.5 percent in 2015 over 2014 valuations, Castleschouldt said. Based on average home prices in the Magnolia area, some property owners could see a property value increase of anywhere from $56,000 to $68,000.

“We have experienced, in the last several years, double digit [property tax] increases [throughout the area],” Castleschouldt said. “It just depends on if the [housing] market is really good in a particular area and if it is escalating.”

The appraisal district monitors trends in the real estate market to identify the selling price of homes in the area, and those numbers are used to determine property values. Properties are grouped by neighborhood and type to keep values uniform throughout the area.

In Montgomery County and surrounding areas, new residential developments and an increased housing demand have driven up appraised property values significantly, which led to property tax rate hikes,
Castleschouldt said.

David Sottilare, Magnolia resident and owner of Trinity Fine Jewelry, said the influx of newcomers and rising property values are pushing longtime residents out of the area.

“When I first built my house [in Magnolia] in 2001, my taxes were about $3,200 a year,” Sottilare said. “I sold it 11 months ago, [and my taxes] were $9,000. People who have been here a long time—we’re trying to find a better way of life to retire in. I know a lot of people who can’t afford to [stay in the area] because of the taxes.”

Sottilare said he bought a small tract of land near the Woodforest master-planned community in Conroe with the intention of building a new house. However, he said he plans to sell it and has opted to sign a multiyear lease on a rental home property to avoid the yearly property tax increases.

“I’m not going to build a house knowing exactly what’s going to happen with the taxes,” Sottilare said.

Castleschouldt said that appraisals are typically mailed by April 1, and property owners have an option to protest their valuations. A Notice to Protest form can be found on the appraisal district’s website at www.mcad-tx.org or at the district’s office at 109 Gladstell St., Conroe.

Depending on the type of property, district officials may request a hearing with a review board if the owner believes a property appraisal is higher than market value or is unequal in comparison to similar properties. The deadline to submit appraisal protest forms is June 1.

After the deadline, the appraised values are certified and sent to the Montgomery County Tax Office. The values are then used to determine the effective tax rate for 2015, and final bills will be mailed out in late September or early October. Payment for property taxes is due by Jan. 1.