How To Challenge Your Property Taxes

Austin Then ~
An old photo from Home Style Austin archives taken from the top of  UT’s Tower shortly after it was completed in 1937.

Greetings From Austin Circa 1937 © Home Style Austin

Austin Now ~ From home to drone – a pretty aerial view of the dramatic change in Austin’s skyline in about 80 years, visually speaking to Austin’s amazing growth. 

Boomtown, Texas

It should come as no surprise that the Austin area housing market is on fire with supply sorely struggling to keep up with demand. With 110-150 new people moving to the region per day – an average of over 40,000 people each year – in 2 years the Austin metro area is projected to top 2 million strong.

With the recent news release that Travis County property appraisals increased 15%, I’ve been fielding questions from my clients with concerns about rising taxes and what it means to their bottom line.

While most folks want their homes to appreciate in value, this can also impact their property taxes. Many area home owners are confronting sticker shock with recent property appraisal increases that can easily equate to thousands of dollars. Williamson County residents – your appraisal assessment has risen an average of 10%.

A Challenging Question

Did you know it’s your right to protest your property taxes?

Before you challenge your county, do your due diligence and double check the tax appraiser’s assessment. Check the facts and details about your home such as size, age and condition. Compare it to other homes in your neighborhood to determine its value position on the scale with others. One way you can do this is to research online appraisal information for homes around you. Tax appraisals are made available online – Travis County residents can find theirs here and Williamson County residents here.

Another way to “save” on your expenses is to make sure you’ve filed your homestead exemption, which is a big component of tax savings! If you’ve filed a Homestead exemption, the appraisal district can not increase your assessed or taxable value more than 10% of the taxable value from the prior year.

While I read the deadline for filing property tax protests in Williamson County is June 1st (online forms are here) and in Travis County it’s June 2nd (online forms are here) I noticed the county websites suggest having your protest form postmarked by May 31st.

I hope this information is helpful!

Austin Realtor Joe Paul Reider

~ Joe Paul Reider

Home Style Austin Founder
Austin Realtor®
Keller Williams Realty, Inc.

Mobile: 512.222.3302

How To File Your Texas Homestead Exemption

How To File Your Homestead Exemption In TexasEach spring a real estate rite of passage occurs for new home owners with purchases from the prior year; the filing of their residential homestead exemption. Filing your exemption should save you money so let’s look at some great questions my Austin-area clients often ask:

Question 1: Joe, Do I file for my homestead exemption every year?

My Answer: No, but you do need to file the exemption between January 1 and April 30th of the year after your home purchase (e.g. if you purchased your home in the summer of 2015 you would be filing your homestead in the spring of 2016).

In addition, once you receive a homestead exemption you don’t have to apply again unless the chief appraiser asks you to apply again or unless your qualifications change. If you move to a new home, you will have to fill out a new application.

The same homestead application is used for filing exemptions for being 65 years old or older or being a disabled person. Use Williamson County’s free new online homestead filing process or Travis County’s homestead application which specifies more details.

Question 2: How much will I save?

My Answer: Your savings will depend on your property value and the exemption percentage. A homestead exemption removes part of the value of your property from taxation and lowers your tax bill. In addition to the state mandated exemption amounts for school taxes, each taxing unit decides whether to offer the optional exemption and at what percentage.

For example, Travis County offers a 20% exemption for the Homestead exemption. If your property were valued at $200,000 and you qualify for the 20% Homestead exemption from the county ($40,000), you would pay county taxes on your home as if it were worth only $160,000. The amount of savings depends on the exemption and the amount of exemption allowed by each taxing unit.

your home your homestead

Question 3: If I own more than one home, can I file a homestead exemption for each home?

My Answer: 
Sorry, no. A person may not receive a homestead exemption for more than one residence homestead in the same year. You can receive a homestead exemption only for your main or principal residence.

Question 4: What do I do if I have more questions? 

My Answer:
You can can visit the website for the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts to get started.

If you have even more questions please let me know! Thank you for taking a moment to make complete your homestead application and have it filed prior to April 30!

Happy savings!

~ Joe Paul ReiderJoe Paul Reider

Home Style Austin Founder
Austin Realtor®
Keller Williams Realty, Inc.

Mobile: 512-222-3302