Property owners should start receiving their property tax appraisals over the next few weeks and some have already received them. Some property owners may be surprised at the increase in their appraisals, while others may see a decrease due to Harvey damage. So far, the Hardin County Appraisal District (HCAD) has mailed out 12, 733 appraisal notices for real property on April 5.
Hardin County Chief Appraiser Crystal Smith explains, “We have to be at market value. When the market is changing, we have to reappraise areas and look at it and see if there is something, structures that have been added since we have appraised.”
She said part of the sales analysis process is sending out letters to owners who have sold their property and new property owners to make sure they are 95-105% of what the market value is.
This year is a bit different due to so many properties having been affected by Harvey. Smith said they did sales analysis of some areas, but much of it was reappraising. They looked at what the values of the properties were as of January 1, 2018.
Appraisers went out to properties and ascertained value as well as they were able to do so, however, Smith says there may have been situations where they could not gain access and were not able to see damage.
Additionally, she says they were in close contact with Hardin County commissioners, flood plain office, and city officials to receive information regarding which areas had flooded.
“Harvey letters” were sent in December to all property owners in Hardin County who had any structures on their property, according to Smith. That way if there was an area they were not aware of, the property owners could contact them. Those letters are still being returned to the appraisal office and it is not too late to get those letters submitted.
“We put it on our web site, sent out letters, we’ve reached out as much as we can and want to make sure they are aware they can contact us once they get our notice. If they don’t feel their value is correct, they need to contact our office and have pictures that show where they were as of January 1, 2018. Our appraisers will look at that and make adjustments as we can,” said Smith.
Smith encourages property owners who feel their property appraisal is not correct, to contact their office and go through an informal process which includes calling or coming in to the office and talking to an appraiser who can review their account. There may be something that the appraisers were not aware of in regards to the property.
It is most beneficial if property owners can provide documentation such as closing disclosure, contracts, comparable sales data, appraisals, loan documents, repair estimates, photographs and any other relevant information.
It is important to note that an informal discussion or review does not reserve a property owner’s rights to an ARB (Appraisal Review Board) hearing. Once the informal review is complete, the appraiser may change the appraised value or make no changes to the original appraisal.
If that informal process does not meet the property owner’s satisfaction, then they can go to the next step by submitting a formal protest. May 15 or 30 days from the date the appraisal notice was mailed, whichever date is later, is the deadline to protest (refer to your appraisal notice to confirm your protest deadline). Smith says in conjunction with the informal process, they may also want to go ahead and sign and send in a protest to ensure that they can go before the ARB if it is necessary.
An appraiser will contact them before the hearing date to see if there is something they can look at and if there is not, they can continue to attend the hearing. Property owners can participate in the hearing by written affidavit, conference call, or appearing in person.
The HCAD can provide more detailed instruction regarding the informal and formal protest processes as well as deadlines for those.
Additionally, there are exemptions that may be available and the HCAD can provide details in reference to those.
“We’re here to try to help them as fast as we can. Sometimes we can’t adjust values based on the information we have and the next step would be to go to the ARB,” said Smith.
The web site for the Hardin County Appraisal District is www.hardin-cad.org and the phone number is 409-246-2507.