Like it or not, we’re almost done with 2017.  If you live anywhere near Houston, you know the year has been a true emotional roller-coaster ride – from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey to the World Champion Astros.  I don’t know about you, but I could use a few weeks of peace and quiet for the Holidays!

That said, I also realize so many of you (and your friends and families and neighbors) are still trying to piece your lives and homes back together since Harvey paid his unwelcome visit.  With all the attention paid to hammering and painting and other fix-up chores, you might want to take a moment and consider what your options are for 2018 with regard to property taxes.

There is an interesting Notice posted on the Harris County Appraisal District’s web site  that addresses this issue.  If you haven’t read it, I’ve copied it here:

Does Damage From The Recent Flooding Affect My Property Value?

Many homeowners in Harris County have experienced property damage due to Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that followed.   As a courtesy, we want to remind you that the appraised value of your property for 2017 is set based on the home’s condition as of January 1 of this year.  We appraise property every year on January 1, so recent flood damage to your home that is not repaired by January 1, 2018, may be reflected in next year’s value.  If you have already filed a protest and have not yet had your informal meeting or ARB hearing, please be aware that the recent flooding will not affect the taxable value of your property for this year.  Under the state tax code, property reappraisal is not done after a disaster unless requested by one or more taxing jurisdictions.        

That’s short and sweet and to the point.  And it applies to EVERY county and property in Texas.  And it’s a not-so-subtle reminder that there may be some more work to do if you’re planning to challenge your tax-appraisal value in 2018. 

If you decide to file a formal protest of value, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  1. Your request to formally protest MUST be filed with HCAD (or the Central Appraisal District for the county where your property is located) AFTER January 1, 2018 and BEFORE May 31, 2018. 
  2. You have the option to represent yourself at the hearing, or engage the services of one of many professional firms that specialize in this endeavor.

Regardless of which approach you choose, EVERYONE who is considering this game plan should do one very important thing – on January 1, 2018, take a lot of digital pictures of your property that clearly document the overall condition of the property on that date.  Why?  Because (as the notice above points out) property values are determined based on the property’s condition AS OF JANUARY 1 EVERY YEAR.  If you’re still in the process of finishing repairs and remodeling, you’ll want to take those pictures with you to your protest.  Digital pictures are best because they have a hidden date and time stamp that will clearly authenticate when the picture was taken.  If you engage a professional firm to help, the first thing they’ll request is ANY documentation you can provide to help an appraiser determine true value.

So, grab your camera on January 1, 2018 and start making a digital record – it could save you lots of tax burden next year!

Happy Holidays!

P.S. – Your personal business AND your referrals – past, present and future – are greatly appreciated!