Wonder What HCAD Thinks Your House Is Worth? The Notice Is In The Mail.

Property value notices start going out today to nearly a million residential property owners in Harris County. Those values determine how much property tax owners will pay at the end of the year. As David Pitman reports, the vast majority of homeowners will find their appraisals are either flat, or even lower, than last year.

The total taxable value of all property in Harris County is expected to increase by just two percent this year.  The increase comes from greater demand for commercial and industrial properties, along with apartment buildings.

But the wave of residential foreclosures means nearly 90 percent of those who own homes, townhomes, and condos won't be hit with a higher appraisal.

Roland Altinger is Assistant Chief Appraiser for the Harris County Appraisal District.  He says about 30 percent of residential properties in the county will actually show a drop in value.

"Sixty percent of the residential properties are staying the same.  And about ten percent are going up."

It'll take about three weeks for all property valuation notices to reach every owner.  Altinger says notices are going out a bit earlier this year to give owners more time to protest.

"If a property owner feels we've incorrectly assessed their property, then they need to file a protest.  Generally, we provide that information to the property owner two weeks prior to the hearing to review to determine whether a value reduction is warranted, or not."

The 'early' deadline for residential property owners to file a protest is April 30th.  But Altinger says they won't be penalized if they wait until May 31st.  Also, if a valuation notice isn't mailed out until after May 1st, the owner still has 30 days from that date to protest the appraisal.

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...