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Denni Kay Scates, PhD
REALTOR®, CLHMS, MCNE, CRS
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Home Appraisals

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May
25

With North Texas home appraisals at an all-time high, here's how to protest

Home appraisals are up roughly 25% in Dallas County, 20% in Tarrant County, and more in Collin County and some of the other suburbs of Dallas-Fort Worth. The last day property owners can file to protest their appraisals is May 16, and protests are expected to surge.

After a year of unprecedented price appreciation — with multiple offers the norm and houses selling far over the asking price along with inventory shortages that caused many buyers to waive appraisal contingencies in purchase contracts — the market values that appraisal districts placed on properties for 2022 tax purposes are up sharply across the state. How sharply varies widely from county to county and even neighborhood to neighborhood.

The average increase in home appraisals across Texas is 25%, according to the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts.  Home appraisals are up roughly 25% in Dallas County, 20% in Tarrant County, and more than 50% down in Travis County, where the housing market is even hotter than it is in North Texas. 

Homeowners can apply for a homestead exemption to limit the increase, but the deadline to apply for this year was April 30.  The good news for homeowners who missed the April 30 deadline is that late homestead exemption applications can be filed for up to two years after the tax delinquency date, which is usually Feb. 1. Homeowners who file late are eligible for a new tax bill with a lower amount or a refund if they've already paid.  The next important property tax deadline is fast approaching. The last day property owners can file to protest their appraisals is Monday (May 16).

The higher appraised values mean that if taxing entities such as cities, counties and especially school districts do not cut tax rates, many property owners will pay hundreds of dollars more in property taxes for 2022, if not thousands.  For people who own their home, that means writing a bigger check to their local tax office by the end of the year. For folks with a mortgage, the amount their lender collects in escrow will climb, typically translating into higher monthly house payments.

The number grabbing the attention of property owners when they open their 2022 appraisal envelopes is the market value — the amount the county appraisal district estimates their house would sell for as of January 1 of this year.   But in many cases, property owners won't pay taxes on the full market value because they'll qualify for tax breaks such as the homestead, over-65, and disabled veterans exemptions.  The homestead exemption, for example, puts a 10% cap on the amount the assessed value of a primary residence can go up. A homeowner claiming a homestead exemption whose market value increases from $500,000 to $600,00 would pay property taxes on $550,000.

Meanwhile, Texans who voted on Saturday overwhelmingly approved two amendments to the state constitution concerning property tax relief. One will set a lower property tax rate for over-65 and disabled homeowners starting in 2023. The second will lower independent school district property tax bills by increasing the homestead exemption from $25,000 currently to $40,000, saving an estimated $175 per homestead.  In Dallas County, Proposition 1 passed by 87.2% and Prop 2 passed by 85.4%, both mirroring the statewide passage rate, give or take 1%.

Home-buying clients and other residential property owners are urged to protest their appraisals most years and says this year there's more reason than ever.  Most appraisal districts have online portals that give property owners a way to protest informally. Those who aren't satisfied with the results can then formally protest with their local Appraisal Review Board, which will hold a hearing. Protest hearings began in late April 30 and finish in mid-July.  Homeowners should arm themselves with documentation of recent sales of comparable homes in their neighborhood. Most real estate agents will pull the comps for free.

The process to protest appraisal hikes varies from county to county and has changed substantially from past years due to COVID.  For more information about how individual North Texas counties are handling protests given COVID restrictions, here's how to contact appraisal districts in North Texas:

  • Dallas Business Journal, May 10, 2022
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