MORGANS POINT RESORT, Texas — Some Morgan's Point homeowners are not happy about a recent hike in property value.

After a woman in Morgan’s Point Resort contacted Channel 6 about a 100 percent increase in her property’s land value, investigative reporter Andrew Moore dug into the issue. While multiple people in Morgan’s Point had a large increase in property taxes, they may also have a way to lower those taxes.

It works for the rest of Texas too. 

To understand how to lower your property taxes, however, you have to know why they increase. The sales of homes nearby your property is the largest factor.

What does an increase in property value mean?

A rise in property value means a hike in property tax, which could be a massive pain in your pocketbook.

What causes property value to increase?

There are several factors that could cause your property value to increase. In Central Texas, some call it the "Fixer Upper Effect.”

Here are three common reasons why property values might increase, according to Realtor.com :

1. Home improvements

Renovations can up a home’s value. Updating a bathroom or kitchen could increase value. Finishing or converting space in a home into a livable area, like an attic or garage, could cause your home to be reassessed.

2. Revaluation

Communities and counties reevaluate properties every now and then. During revaluations, government officials or hired appraisers review all real property to figure out its current assessed value. Revaluations are used to make sure the tax burden is spread equitably and accurately among the homeowners in a given area.

3. Nearby home sales

Home sales are sometimes the single greatest factor in determining how nearby home and property values are calculated. Bell County chief tax appraiser Billy White told Channel 6 that as few as three similar home or property sales can determine the market rate for a home in a typical neighborhood. If the value of a sale is much larger than an equivalent home’s value, then the value of that home goes up. 

How can you lower your home, or land, value? 

While home and property sales are a key piece of data White uses to find the value of a property, the amount of data available can influence the price. White said as few as two recent sales in an area can significantly increase property values if they are the only two sales the Bell County Tax Appraisal Office knows about in a particular year.  

If a homeowner is able to bring the appraisal district proof that a similar property sold for less than their current examples, it can actually lower appraisals for the whole area. When Channel 6 asked White about the spike in sales in the Morgan's Point area, he said they are re-evaluating some properties. 

“In the past couple days we have been talking to a few people from Morgan’s Point, and they have brought some more sales information to us now, which we might be able to make some changes on based on the information we have received now,” he said.  

The reason this solution works is because Texas is a non-disclosure sales state. White said the appraisal district does not not get information on all the sales made in an area, and it is possible that a few unusual sales can skew property values both too high and too low. Having additional examples can cause the district to re-evaluate a whole neighborhood. 

“If it’s something we think is a big influence on a big section of area, then we may actually go and do a re-evaluation on that area,” White said. “We are re-evaluating some lots in the Morgan’s point area based on the information we just got.”

How is property tax calculated?

Your home’s value might be determined for tax purposes by the most recent purchase price, or by a blanket assessment of a neighborhood’s estimated property values. That value is then multiplied by a percentage, often called a millage, to calculate your taxes owed. In most Texas counties, property values are revisited every year.

In some cases, it may take a trip to the tax assessor’s office to compare your home’s assessed tax value with nearly identical properties nearby to see if your home is valued fairly.

What do I do if my tax assessment is wrong?

Property values, which drives tax assessments, can sometimes be wrong if a jurisdiction documented the wrong number of bedrooms, bathrooms or square footage in your house.

If you think there’s an error in your assessment, the first step is to call your tax assessor and explain your concerns. If this conversation convinces you that an appeal is worthwhile, ask what the process is.

Many jurisdictions limit the hearing of appeals to a period following the issuance of new tax notices.

In Bell County, there is an unscheduled walk-in protest period where staff can discuss a property owner’s concerns without making a formal protest.

Go to the Belton office at 411 E. Central Ave, Belton, TX by May 15, 2019. staff is available to discuss property concerns Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Information you may need to gather in your effort to win an appeal varies by county and can include:

  • An independent appraisal of your home and property.
  • Original construction plans.
  • Comparable recent sale prices on nearby homes similar to yours.

To protest property values in Bell County property owners can do the following:

Online:

  • Access the www.bellcad.org website prior to the indicated Protest Filing Deadline and Select Online Protest
  • Using your Owner ID & E File Pin (located in the upper right corner of this notice) create a new user account, or logon with your credentials from your previous years login

In Person or By Mail

  • Complete and sign the Notice of Protest form included with this notice or protest by letter including your name, property description, and reason for protesting
  • File with Bell CAD staff by the Protest Filing Deadline or mail to the Bell CAD office on/before the Protest Filing Deadline of May 15th, 2019.

The upside of higher property values

The good news is that a property that values at more than the price at which it was purchased can be placed on the market for higher than its purchase price.

For example, if Jane Doe bought a home for $100,000 in January and the property appraises for $150,000 in June, then Jane can place her house for sale for $150,000 and potentially make $50,000 in profit when the home sells.  

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