Nine of 10 property value protests were successful, but tax bills may still go up

As property values continue to rise across North Texas, some Tarrant County homeowners found at least a little relief this year.

Tarrant County home owners filed more than 170,000 protests against rising values — and 89% of them saw a reduction in their home value, according to the Tarrant Appraisal District. That means one in four of the county’s 611,000 homeowners saw their property values drop after protesting the county’s proposed appraisal of their property.

Homeowners who protested saw the market value of their homes drop an average of 7%. Most — 65% of homeowners — saw their home values drop between 0.10% and 10%. Another 24% saw their values fall by 11% or more, said Jeff Law, chief appraiser at the appraisal district.

And 11% saw no drop in value, Law said.

“Everyone should protest,” said Chandler Crouch, a real estate agent who helps people with their protests for free. “There’s a good, good chance that there’s some data being used to justify the value ... that, once they are able to take a look at it, needs to be corrected.

“So they approve a reduction.”

Crouch, whose company is handling about 16,000 protests this year, said not all protests have been resolved. He has about 820 protests yet to be considered by the appraisal district.

Tax rates

But the drop in some property values doesn’t mean homeowners will see their property tax bills go down.

Tax bills have yet to be determined. They are based on tax rates set by cities, counties, school boards and hospital districts.

And those rates have yet to be set this year.

Law said he hopes property owners who showed up in mass at appraisal offices will now head to city council, school board, county commissioners and hospital district meetings.

“I hope taxpayers will talk to their elected officials about the rate adoption process as much as they have talked to us about lower home values,” Law said. “It is a two-part process.

“The value portion is complete, now the taxing units are working on the tax rate part.”

In past years, as property values throughout Texas skyrocketed, cities and school districts generally have kept property tax rates steady or slightly lowered them.

In Fort Worth, for instance, the tax rate fell in 2017 and 2018. But rising property tax values meant homeowners generally paid the same amount, or more, even with a lower tax rate. And in the Fort Worth school district, for instance, the tax rate has stayed the same since 2015.

Crouch also encourages property owners fed up with high tax bills to talk to their local officials about their budgets.

“We’ve got to hold these local entities accountable,” Crouch said. “We don’t want any budget increases. And be careful what bond packages you vote for.

“Spread the word.”

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.