San Antonio Property Taxes
The San Antonio property tax code favors no one but the Bexar County Appraisal District - BCAD. Judging from their residential property appraisals, the values seem to be measured by the square inch as opposed to the square foot. Bexar County and San Antonio has long been known for the value of a home to jump just because the drive by appraiser was eager to please the boss. The problem is if they think the homes are capable of a 30 or 40 percent valuation increase in just two years, why don't they just knock on our doors and make an offer themselves?
Bexar Appraisal District
Just last week, some folks in our neighborhood were wondering what a dark colored car was doing on our street taking pictures of each house. We decided it was the Bexar Appraisal District and the families who had just mowed their yard saw the biggest property tax increase. I'm not sure if a freshly mowed yard or blooming flowers justifies a $20,000 or $40,000 property tax increase but that's the Bexar Appraisal District for you. In 2006, my neighborhood saw a blanket 100% increase in the land value over 2005 and this year (2007) we see a 50% increase. In other words, just the value of the land has tripled since 2005. How this is possible, I do not know. When we asked the appraisal district in 2006 why the value had gone up, they responded by saying they hadn't had a property value increase in many years and it was just time. Maybe the Bexar Appraisal District thinks San Antonio property is similar to that of an interest bearing account. If that's the case, the appraisal district needs less property appraisers and more accountants and bankers. In any case, you've got to fight against these obnoxious property and building values and increases set out by the Bexar Appraisal District.
Fighting BCAD Property Tax Increases
There are two ways to fight the assessed property values in San Antonio and Bexar county. I'm sure they are uniform throughout Texas and the US. You can either hire a property tax firm to fight the assessment or do it yourself. In either case, you'll have to take lots of pictures and get lots of repair estimates. Several things residents need to do to prepare for their property tax dispute include:
- Take pictures of all cracks inside and outside the house. This indicates possible foundation trouble and the appraisal district will take this into account when reevaluating the value of your home.
- Crime Data - Many Bexar residents don't know that presenting the area crime data will strengthen their argument when pleading their case for lower property taxes.
- Find less obvious problems in places that you don't normally go. For instance, climb into the attic and check the ductwork and wiring for problems. You may even want to check the condition of your roof.
- Take pictures of everything and get estimates for all repairs. This is the evidence you will have to take with you to the Bexar Appraisal District in order to fight for lower property taxes.
- Pictures and repair estimates are the primary tools used to fight for lower property values which will hopefully lower your taxes.
- Take information about property values of comparable homes in the general area and recent home sales data in your neighborhood. If your property value assessment is not consistent with comparable home values in your area, the appraisers will sometimes take note.
Property Tax Dispute Process - Filing the dispute itself is simple. Homeowners just fill out the form and mail it to the Bexar Appraisal District. The appraisal office then will reply with a meeting notice directing the property owner to appear for an informal hearing at the Bexar Appraisal office downtown. The informal tax hearing is simple and pretty straightforward. When arriving at the Bexar Appraisal District office and you're faced with what seems a never ending line, don't worry, it moves fast and the person that you actually sit down with to review your evidence for property value reduction is simply a matter of who's available next.
Sitting down with the appraisal representative is not a grueling situation with a "property owner vs. property tax people" type encounter. The meeting is fairly non-confrontational and it's up to the property owner to present their case for a reduction in value. San Antonio residents need to be prepared that the appraiser will counter by presenting the value of homes in your area that supports their case for higher value. So in addition to evidence directly related to your property condition and value, be prepared to present the comparable home values that support your case. Take a lot of information with you on comparable San Antonio properties in your vicinity because they have an entire database that supports their argument. Do all you can to get your home value below the cap that is currently in place because if you can't and your value rises again the next year. which it will, the cap will be higher and you'll be fighting harder than you normally would with a lower cap.
If you are unable to resolve the dispute through the informal hearing process, you will go to the formal hearing and present your case to the appraisal board. The Bexar appraisal board formal hearing can go either way but I would assume it is tougher than the and more scrutinizing than the informal hearing. In summary, the Bexar Appraisal District will do everything in their power to raise your taxes. Do everything in your power to keep your property value low and in turn, lower your taxes.