Mar 1 2017 29967 1

Dated: March 1 2017

Views: 117

Property Tax Tip

Binding Arbitration - Unequal Appraisal Possible for the Homeowner!

Texas appraisal districts tend to view unequal appraisal with distrust and distain. They appear to believe someone appealing on unequal appraisal is insulting their integrity by indicating they are not fairly valuing property. The reality is that errors in the property records make it impossible for tax assessors to consistently and accurately value property. The negative attitude toward unequal appraisal is typical and widespread with appraisal district staff and appraisal review boards.

For example, the appraisal review board (ARB) at Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) votes in favor of the appraisal district’s unequal appraisal evidence virtually 100% of the time. Incredibly, even though the appraisal district has the burden of proof, the HCAD ARB typically votes in favor of HCAD even when HCAD has no evidence regarding unequal appraisal.

If a property owner is unable to get an impartial hearing at either the informal or ARB stage on the basis of unequal appraisal, the only option is to continue the appeal beyond the ARB. Binding arbitration is the practical option for homeowners and owners of commercial property valued at up to $3 million. Binding arbitration is the first setting within which the decision maker is not affiliated with the appraisal district.

A real estate agent is typically the arbitrator in 90% of the cases and he/she is not obligated to the appraisal district. Their interest is in rendering an impartial decision is based on the evidence. Real estate agents are also not impressed by the narrow-minded thinking of the appraisal district and ARB staff regarding the reliability of “the appraisal district’s information on grade, condition, effective year of construction and valuation factors”

A final benefit of binding arbitration is that the arbitrators are not subject to political pressure. District court judges are independent but are paid by the county and subject to election. Judges for State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) are paid by the state. Arbitrators are believed to be best option for the unequal appraisal perspective since they are not subject to bias.


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Ryan Lopez

Born and raised in the small town of New Iberia, Louisiana. Later graduated from college with a associates degree in computer networking. Went on to a 20 year career in the oil and gas industry. Now h....

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