Local News

Nov 12, 2013 10:15 PM by Andrew Ellison - aellison@kristv.com

Special Report: The Art of Mass Home Appraisals

CORPUS CHRISTI - Many homeowners dread opening the mailbox and finding their appraisal notice. That notice all too often means the homeowner is going to have to pay-up.

The higher your home value, the more you pay in property taxes, and with so much money on the line, why does it seem like the Appraisal District just pulls numbers out of thin air?

The truth is it's a complicated process, and the district says they know it seems arbitrary, but it isn't.

The Chief Appraiser for the district is Ronnie Canales.

"People think that we just pull numbers out of the air. We don't do that. It's pretty much a science where we're almost precise but not there," he says.

There certainly are plenty of appraisals that don't seem to make sense.

Houses right next to each other in a neighborhood, seemingly identical in look, but appraised thousands of dollars apart.

The district says the difference there may be what the homeowner is willing to do about it.

"Normally our appraisals are strictly from the outside," Canales says, "Okay, now if you have property damage inside, we don't see that. We only see that when you call the office and say I need you to come look at my property because I've got this and this and that inside the property. And of course, we'll make the appointment, we'll go look at it, and that's where your value can change on the lower scale."

And then there are homeowners confused as to why their values jumped thousands of dollars just from one year to the next.

"It's driven by the economy. It's driven by the people who are buying new homes and older homes, remodeling homes. So yeah, the economy is very good, and that's the key factor as to why your values are on the upside instead of the down side," Canales says.

It means the real driving factors behind your appraisal value are things you have almost no control over. In fact, even a new shopping mall near your house could drive your value up.

But before you think your value is set in stone right off the bat, it really isn't.

You can appeal your value and statistics show it's worth it to try.

The district saw over a thousand appeals this last year and roughly 70 percent of them were successful.

And of those people who did successfully appeal, the average person got 16 percent knocked off their value.

Certainly appears to be a worthwhile effort.

By the way, all appraisal districts are graded by the State Comptroller's Office for fairness and accuracy.

Nueces County got a 98 percent score.

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