Planning to protest high property values? Read this first

Check your mailbox.

Blue have either already arrived or soon will.

Homeowners who think their appraised property value is too high — and this year‘s values went up about 8 to 10 percent across Tarrant County — can challenge those appraisals.

The deadline to file a protest this year is earlier than it has been in the past.

SIGN UP

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.

Anyone wanting to file a protest may do it online or in the mail by , unless a different date is listed on the form. That deadline is about two weeks earlier than it has been in the past, thanks to a.

“If someone wants to contest or challenge the value, they need to do it sooner rather than later,” Chief Appraiser Jeff Law said.

About 535,000 residential notices were mailed out at the end of March. Another 30,000 commercial notices will be sent out around April 15. And another 15,000 notices will soon follow.

Here‘ are a few things to know about your appraisal.

It isn‘t written in stone

Homeowners can protest their appraised value if they believe it‘s too high and they likely will find some relief.

Last year, there were more than 137,000 protests filed in Tarrant County.

“That was an all-time high,” Law said. “The real estate market we‘ve had here recently shows the value [of property] has gone up. The sales information is indicating there‘s a huge demand for properties.”

Chandler Crouch, a 37-year-old Realtor who , said the North Texas housing market is still hot.

“We‘ve got so many jobs being created in this area and people are moving here,” he said. “The inventory has been really low, and demand hasn‘t let up.”

But he encourages everyone who can to protest the appraised value of their home.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

How to protest

There are several ways to protest.

On the appraisal you receive in the mail, there‘s a form you can fill out to file a formal protest. Mail it in and make sure it‘s postmarked by May 15. A hearing date will be set for appraisers to hear your case.

You also can file the same protest online at .

Another option is checking out the that may offer a lower value, or approve one you propose.

And if that doesn‘t appeal to you, you might want to call TAD to talk to appraisers and negotiate a lower home value.

“They have the ability to negotiate,” Law said. “In all situations, we are appraising properties on a mass appraisal approach.

“We may not know all the characteristics of a person‘s property,” he said. “In talking with property owners, we may find out there‘s damage to the house or issues with the property that could impact the value.”

Formal protest hearings should begin in late May and TAD officials hope to have at least 95 percent of the protests finished by July 20.

“Don‘t be afraid of the system,” Crouch said.

Tips for protests

Crouch suggests homeowners focus on the condition of their property and comparable sales.

“There‘s really nothing else that matters,” he said.

The key is condition — and time-stamped photos that show significant issues with a property, such as with the roof, foundation, electrical or plumbing systems.

Don‘t focus on things that are cosmetic, such as carpet or paint or landscaping, he said.

But you might even want to get quotes from contractors to show how costly it would be to fix problems at your home, Crouch said.

And review the comparable sales — the homes they are comparing with yours to show why your value should be higher.

This isn‘t a bill

Just realize that the appraisal you receive now is not a tax bill.

“Please do not send us or the tax office checks at this time,” said Law, who noted that any checks sent to TAD will be returned to the sender. “Tax bills will be sent in October by the Tax assessor-collector.”

Cities, school districts, county commissioners and other elected officials must still set the tax rate that will be used to determine your bill later in the year.

“People shouldn‘t just come and say their taxes are too high,” Law said. “We don‘t set the budgets and we don‘t set the tax rates.”

Law said most people should expect for their home values to go up.

“If they think our values are too high, they should protest,” he said. “But if they think taxes are too high, they should get engaged and talk to their elected officials.”

Anna Tinsley:,

SHARE COPY LINK

Lynn Courtney bought a house in Arlington $11,000 more than the asking price to make sure she would get it. Recent appraisal notices from TAD show not only are prices going up, but that the market is particularly tough for starter homes. McClatchykbouaphanh-telegram