Assessing assessments

Posted on Monday, June 25th, 2007 at 10:19pm.

In yet another interesting article in the Austin American Statesman, reporter Marty Toohey dug into the process by which Travis County assesses homes for taxation purposes. With 37 agents tasked with assessing the more than 379,000 properties in the county (which works out to about 41 houses per day if they each work Monday-Friday and take off two weeks vacation per year), it’s no wonder the Appraisal District might not give each home’s valuation the laser focus owners desire. That workload challenge, compounded with a lack of usable data (there is currently no disclosure requirement for sale prices in residential real estate transactions in Texas) is made worse by a shortage of adequate analytical tools. In fact, the article described the tactics available to agents as:

•Driving around looking at “for sale” signs to get asking prices.
•Asking people who just bought property what they paid, in a mail-out that gets few responses.
•Examining building permits (although many homeowners who are renovating don’t obtain permits).
•Relying on owners to rat on neighboring properties when they protest their own valuations.

It’s really no wonder that home valuations cause such irritation in home owners. In Travis County this spring, property owners filed 50,000 appeals on their appraisals (and the subsequent tax bill).

So, if you always thought the county used elaborate computer modeling to calculate your tax bill, you now know that you have the same tools available. In fact, you have it easier in that you don’t have to leave your house to find out asking prices on homes in your neighborhood (or any other, for that matter.) Just visit our home search feature on our Web site, www.AustinHomeListings.com. Our industry-leading tools allow you to search by interactive map, Austin MLS Area, address or zip, school district, or Austin subdivisions. We’re also set up to send you email alerts when new listings match your home search criteria.

So, if you live in Spanish Oaks, are interested in Lake Pointe or want to learn more about Tarrytown, our site can help you get the information you need. Or, if you’d just like to talk about your options, give us a call at 512.300.0928. We may not be able to help you with your tax assessment, but we can certainly help you find the Austin home of your dreams.

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