Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Success at the Travis County Appraisal Review Board - Lowered My Property Taxes

Success at the Travis County Appraisal Review Board - Lowered My Property Taxes

Today was an interesting day.  I went to the Travis County Appraisal Review Board to protest my property taxes. In the past, I had only gone in, spoken with someone, told them about my concerns, and was done with it.  This time, I'm in a different situation. I'm in a brand new community and all the properties are being assessed all over the board.

I tried to do the informal thing where I explained what I was talking about, but apparently I went over the manager's head and he didn't understand. How he didn't understand, I don't know, but honestly, I think he just didn't want to deal with the situation.

In my neighborhood, there are equal and comparable new homes to mine that I would consider apples to apples comparisons, but values from $389k up well into the $400k's!  How could that be??

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I looked at a lot of information to find out what was going on, and you'll never believe it.  I know different styles are common in different parts of the world, so this might not mean anything to some people, but my community has homes that are stucco, stone, or brick, and many homes with a combination of two different materials.

Because of the area and the amount of relocation we have from out of the area, the stucco homes are in high demand.  Because of this high demand, the builders charge a pretty penny for the stucco elevations. However, do you think the appraisal district is following this same logic??

NO! They're not!

They are giving the stucco homes an inferior cost analysis causing my brick home to be valued higher that the others.  When I brought this to the attention of the Travis County Appraisal Review Board, they were shocked.  They were more shocked that the response from the Travis County Representative was that the stucco replacement costs were less so therefore, it's valued less.  I'm sorry, but this isn't about replacement cost. This is about market value and what a buyer would pay for the house. If the builders are going to charge a premium, and the buyers are going to pay it, that's the cost analysis that should be used.

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We had a little schooling going on, and my typical 20 minute hearing took over 45 minutes!  Overall, I'm extremely happy with  my results. I got my property tax value lower by over $20,000! That doesn't equate to too much over the year, but it'll add up year after year if I fight this stucco analysis each year. Bottomline, if you think you're not being valued like your neighbors' properties, do something about it!

Keep in mind, if you're in Texas and you're not happy with the Appraisal Review Board decision on your property, you can file arbitration and request me through the State of Texas' Comptroller's Office!

**Are You Packed Yet?** 

donna harris Realtor Austin TX blog

Donna Harris, REALTOR®
RE/MAX Austin Skyline

Austin TX Real Estate and the surrounding areas of Lakeway, Bee Cave, West Lake Hills, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Spicewood, Circle-C, Steiner Ranch, and everywhere in between... Hill Country Austin TX Real Estate and beyond. Whether you're buying or selling an Austin home, I'll be with you every step of the way. 

For real time Austin TX listings, click here.

** #1 Agent in my Office for all of 2008 **

Copyright© 2010 By Donna Harris, All Rights Reserved. You may re-blog with links back to this post.
* Success at the Travis County Appraisal Review Board - Lowered My Property Taxes * was first published on

Comment balloon 11 commentsDonna Harris • June 04 2010 03:47PM


Love that you were pro-active and were able to get them to lower your property taxes - good job!  We should have advocates helping our homeowners do the same thing in their communities.  Thanks for sharing your experience with us!Susan

Posted by Susan Laxson CRS, Local Knowledge & Global Network (Palm Properties) over 10 years ago


That's a $20,000 success story, way to go.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) over 10 years ago

I love the stucco architecture. Funny that the Appraisal Board is not in tune with Buyer's demands. Oh well. Congratulations to your success. That's part of your TV/ cellphone bill you're saving a year!

Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co.) over 10 years ago



Congrats on winning your case!!!  :) 


Lori Cofer

Posted by Lori Churchill Cofer, Realtor - 509-330-0086 - Pullman, WA (Beasley Realty) over 10 years ago

Good job, Donna!  Doesn't it make you feel good?

Posted by Elyse Berman, PA, Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824 CRS, ABR, GRI,ePR (Best Connections Realty, Inc.) over 10 years ago

I can't believe it was that easy! Here, you have to file an application! But, you got me thinking.

Posted by Jackie Connelly-Fornuff, "Moving at The Speed of YOU!" (Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Babylon NY) over 10 years ago

Susan, I've helped many people, but not as an advocate because I charge for my time.

Lou, ACtually, it's only a $380 success story. I don't save $20k on anything.

Loreena, I just saw what we pay for TV each month, and it's barely 3 month's worth!!

Lori, Thanks!

Elyse, I felt great walking out of there. A guy in the hall said, "We don't usually see many smiling faces walking the hall."

Jackie, I did file an application. You get a chance at an informal hearing and/or a formal hearing. They didn't want to hear what I had to say at the informal one, so I had to go to the 3 person appraisal review board for the formal hearing at my assigned time on Friday.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - over 10 years ago

Good job! 

It's quite an experience going to the formal hearing.  Every time I've protested our tax valuation, I've learned something new.  Last year, the Appraisal Board guy told the committee that one of the comps I had (the one closest to ours) was a foreclosure, and they didn't want to use it.  Got back where I had access to all my research tools and verified that it wasn't - never occurred to me before the meeting that it would be called one. That was the first time I'd taken it all the way to the formal hearing - usually get a reasonable reduction at the informal because I have my ducks in a row.  One more duck to watch out for this year! 


Posted by Tricia Jumonville, Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense (Bradfield Properties) over 10 years ago

Hmmm, interesting. Good job with getting the facts and fighting it. Im sure many others would have just accepted it and moved on. Or they may have not even noticed there was a price difference for Stucco compared to brick. Hopefully this is not something you'll have to fight each year...

Posted by John Cannata, Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance (214-728-0449 over 10 years ago

Donna - My web guy hubby studied the assessment process in great detail ..... he will tell you that although they talk market value or some variation of MV the process is all about replacement cost combined with multiple regressional analaysis. The process and the end results have absouletly nothing to do with market value as you and I understand it .... in all likely hood that manager understood you perfectly but chose to ignore what you were saying.

He says


a 5% reduction is a gimme to get you to go away

Posted by Kathy Clulow, Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results (RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage) over 10 years ago

Donna - here is a link to his series on  You And Your Property Tax Bill - The Illusion and The Reality it relates to assessment here in Ontario but you will likely find the process is identical or at least very similiar across North America and in many other countries around the world.

I put it in a seperate comment so you could delete it if you want.

Posted by Kathy Clulow, Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results (RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage) over 10 years ago