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How to Protest Property Taxes in Travis County, Texas

Spring in Travis County marks the start of property tax season. If you own property that has increased in market value by at least $1,000 in the last year, you should receive a Notice of Appraised Value from the Travis County Appraisal District. At the top of the notice are two numbers; assessed value and market value. Your annual property tax amount owed is based on these numbers.

If you did not receive a Notice of Appraised Value via mail, you can look yours up online by using the official TCAD Property Search tool.

What’s the Difference Between Tax-Assessed Value and Market Value?

Tax-assessed value is what the county determines your property to be worth. Market value is how much an average buyer would pay for your home if it were for sale.

TCAD will attempt to match tax-assessed value as close to market value as they can, but will typically base their number off a general area and will not use neighborhood comps like a Realtor would when marketing your home for sale. All this to say; the values could be much too high or much too low given the non-specific data used.

If you believe that the assessed value shown on your notice does not accurately reflect the market value of your home, you have the right to protest it.

Why Protest My Property Valuation?

When people don’t appeal, TCAD interprets the lack of response as confirmation that their assessed value is correct. This affects all homeowners in a given neighborhood for future years to come. By appealing too-high assessed values, you can help keep property taxes reasonable in congruence with the market value of homes in your neighborhood.

How Do I Protest My Property Taxes?

There are two ways to protest your property tax values.

1. By Mail

Download this form, fill it out, and mail it to the address below. Make sure you list facts and data as to why you believe the assessed value is incorrect.

Travis Central Appraisal District
PO Box 149012
Austin TX 78714

2. Online

Visit the Travis County E-file page to file your protest online. To file online you will need your Owner ID and PIN number found on your notice. If you have misplaced your notice or don’t know your owner ID and PIN, contact TCAD by phone (512-834-9317) or email (CSInfo@tcadcentral.org) to request that info.

After you file, you should hear back from TCAD about an informal hearing date. The purpose of the hearing is to share your evidence as to why you think your home over-valued on your notice.

Keep in mind that it can take several weeks to several months to hear back about a hearing date after filing your protest. Also, please note that TCAD is in charge of assigning appraised values of homes; they have nothing to do with setting the tax rate itself.

Where Do I Get Evidence for the Market Value of My Home?

  1. Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). Contact your Realtor to see if they’ll send you an updated CMA with an estimated market value of your home, or conduct your own research.
  2. List and take pictures of any deficiencies in your house. Foundation issues, plumbing failures, etc. can all affect the tax assessed value.
  3. If your home was recently purchased and you paid less than the tax assessed value, bring a copy of your settlement statement to the hearing.

The deadline to protest property valuations in Travis County for 2020 is May 15th.

I’d love to be your resource for all things real estate, so please reach out any time!

May 5, 2020

Buy | Invest | Resources

New Real Estate Projects in Austin

If you’ve lived in Austin for a while, you’ll know that the city changes rapidly. From downtown towers to new suburban communities, Austin is growing more every year.

Here’s a spotlight on a couple of new projects in the works in central and east Austin.

A. Natiivo, Downtown

Natiivo is a 33-story tower currently under construction on Rainey Street. The twist with this building is that each unit will come with full amenities, furniture, and hotel licensing. This means that owners will be able to rent out their units short term, or on sites like Airbnb for personal profit. This is an extreme rarity for any condo building; contact me if you’re interested in more details and/or investment potential.

B. 6 X Guadalupe, Downtown

If you thought The Independent, also known as the “Jenga Building” downtown was going to remain the tallest building in Austin, think again! 6X is planned to be 66 stories tall – a full 7 stories taller than its predecessor. The space will be filled with offices, retail, and apartments.

C. Grove at Shoal Creek, Central Austin

The Grove at Shoal Creek is a master-planned community smack dab in the middle of the city. This new Rosedale/Hyde Park development will be 76 acres of housing, retail, green space, and offices.

D. Centro Complex, East Austin

Encompassing a full two blocks between E 5th and E 6th, this new development will be part of East Austin’s Plaza Saltillo district. A 3.25-acre, five-story office and retail space is planned for the space once permitting is completed.

These projects are just a fraction of all the new development happening throughout the Austin-metro area. If you’ve had thoughts of buying a home or planning to invest in Austin’s growing market, contact me and let’s grab a coffee to talk about your options!

I’d love to be your resource for all things real estate and am always happy to answer questions.

February 21, 2020

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Austin Investment Hotspots (Fall 2019)

Austin, Texas has been an investor haven for the last two decades or so, with next to endless opportunities to purchase investment properties and rent them out for a profit. With the amount the city has grown in the last few years however, the number of cash flowing properties from the time of purchase has dwindled significantly.

For those willing or able to put a higher down payment (over 20-30%), opportunities are more accessible throughout the city. But for the average investor, the norm is losing a few hundred dollars per month in exchange for having most of the mortgage payment covered as well as anticipating a larger profit margin from home equity when they eventually sell.

The above is a solid strategy for the Austin area, and the most realistic for most homebuyers and investors. For those who really want to buy with 10-20% down and have the entire mortgage payment covered from day one however, there are a few remaining pockets in the Austin area to consider.

1. Round Rock – Multiple Pockets

Of the three on this list, Round Rock currently has the most areas available with potential to yield a positive return. A 3-bedroom, one-story home rents for around $1,575. With a 15% down payment and target purchase price of $220,000, you could earn roughly $100 per month and have your mortgage payment completely covered.

2. Leander – Crystal Falls

Though tax rates are high, Leander has grown rapidly over the last few years with no signs of slowing down. The Crystal Falls area is still heavily under construction from new home builders, and the monthly payment after purchasing many of those homes can be roughly even when marketed for rent. A 3-bedroom, one-story home in this area rents for around $1,750. With a 15% down payment and a target purchase price of $245,000 or less, you’d break just about even and have your mortgage payment completely covered.

3. Bluff Springs – Southpark Meadows

Last on the list is Southpark Meadows, a growing employment hotspot in South Austin. Though opportunities for instant cashflow are incredibly slim, there are still a few homes that pop up from time to time that fit the bill. A 3-bedroom, one-story home in this area rents for around $1,750. With a 15% down payment and target purchase price of $260,000 or less, you could earn roughly $35 per month and have your mortgage payment completely covered.

Please note that the above examples are purely estimates based on today’s mortgage rates and market and are each hypothetical scenarios. If you’re considering purchasing a property in Austin, please contact me! I’m always happy to talk numbers and work with your budget to find an investment strategy that makes sense for you.

I’d love to be your resource for all things real estate, so please reach out any time!

September 25, 2019

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‘Hacking’ Home Equity in Austin, TX

The Austin real estate market isn’t slowing down. Both home prices and rent hikes are on the continual rise, incentivizing more and more renters to buy their first place. Buying into a real estate market while prices are rising opens the opportunity to gain equity in a home relatively quickly. This means a higher profit for you when you eventually sell.

In addition to rising prices, Austin is also in an inventory shortage. This means that the demand for new homes is very high, which is bringing more home builders into the city. The inventory shortage and influx of builders has created a unique opportunity to ‘hack’ some extra home equity.

Six #homespacehomebuyers are currently under contract doing just this, and I’d love to help more of you do the same!

Here’s how it works:

Instead of buying an existing home, talk to me about purchasing a brand new house in one of the new home communities currently going up in Austin. The big advantage of this is that a new home takes 6-8 months to build.

Why is this a good thing? Because the purchase price for the home is locked in at the time of contract. This means that for 6-8 months you can be ‘collecting equity’ as the market appreciates, yet you don’t pay anything other than earnest money on the home until you close on it.

The reality for several of my clients is that by the time closing date rolls around, they’re moving into a brand new home with a few thousand dollars of equity already in their pocket.

Of course, this isn’t the right move for everyone. If you’re locked in on a certain location that doesn’t have much new construction or want to live in a non-HOA neighborhood, traditional home sales are still the way to go. But for those who have some flexibility on location, it’s definitely worth looking into.

I’d love to be your resource on all things real estate, so please reach out any time!

July 24, 2019

Buy | Invest | Resources | Sell

Flood Changes in Austin, TX

Ever heard of Atlas 14? Probably not, but you might this fall.

Due to the increased frequency of heavy rains, storms, and flooding in the Austin area, a study called Atlas 14 was conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Atlas-14 shows a roughly 33% increase in the amount of rain that could fall in Austin within a 24-hour period. As a result, properties in close proximity to the city’s creeks are exposed to greater flood risks.

What does this mean for Austin residents?

In October, the City Council will vote on whether to implement Atlas 14’s recommendation to redraw the flood maps for Austin.

If approved, homeowners who currently own property located in a 500-year floodplain may be re-zoned to a 100-year floodplain, those in a 100-year may be re-zoned to a 25-year, and those not in a floodplain could enter one.

Flood plains are determined by the likelihood that a storm with high rainfall intensity could happen in any given year. A 25-year storm has a 4% chance of occurring each year; a 100-year storm has a 1% chance of occurring, and a 500-year storm has a 0.2% chance.

If your home is rezoned to fall in a 100-year or 25-year floodplain, your insurance provider will likely be contacting you to require that you add flood insurance to your home insurance policy. If your home is not currently in a floodplain but is rezoned to fall in one, you may want to consider purchasing flood insurance voluntarily, just to be on the safe side.

How to check if your home could be affected by rezoning:

  1. Visit this website and click the “I want to” button, followed by “explore Atlas 14 changes”
  2. Learn more by reading this article by Austin’s Community Impact magazine
  3. Read more here on austintexas.gov

 

I’d love to be your resource for all things real estate, so please contact me any time!

April 29, 2019

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New Community Alert: Manor, TX

Every now and then I preview a home for a client and think, ‘wow, this place is amazing’.

With investors large and small pouring capital into Austin’s real estate market, homebuyers are getting an increasing number of unique neighborhoods to choose from when buying a home. However, the number of affordable homes is decreasing within the city limits as Austin adds more jobs and attracts more newcomers.

The most common request I receive for housing is to find something updated, with a yard, and within a 20-minute commute to work.

While I can provide options within Austin that fit the bill, many of them carry a high price tag. Cue Manor, TX, a new site for home ownership that I like to call the “20-minute city”.

On a map Manor doesn’t look close to much, but the drive time (during peak and off time traffic) is around 20 minutes to or from almost anywhere in Austin.

A few key considerations to put Manor on your home buying and investment radar:

• Single-family homes from the mid $200’s to the mid $400’s
• Convenient access to Parmer Ln, 290, and 130
Average commute to most employers is 20 minutes
• Brand new elementary, middle and high schools
Proposed metro line heading directly to downtown Austin
• Home values have increased 11% year over year since 2016
• New home build timelines allow for equity to grow before you move in

I’d love to be your resource on all things real estate, so please contact me if you have questions or would like a tour!

March 17, 2019

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Home Insurance vs Home Warranty: Do You Need Both?

Owning a home is one of the greatest investments you can make, so protecting your investment should be a top priority. A great way to do this is to get home insurance and a home warranty. Understanding the difference between the two can be tricky, so here’s a quick breakdown.

Home Insurance

Home insurance is almost always required by whichever lender or mortgage company works on your loan. Home insurance policies renew yearly, and the average annual cost in Austin is around $750-1300. Buyers usually pay this cost with the rest of their mortgage payment on a monthly basis.

The big things that home insurance covers are accidental damage to your home due to theft, fire, storms, and some natural disasters. Flood protection is a separate insurance policy, so be sure to look into that if you live in a flood-prone area.

If one of the above scenarios were to occur, you could call your home insurance company, file a claim, and once the claim is approved they’d cover all repair expenses after your deductible. When shopping for policies keep in mind that the higher your deductible is, the lower your monthly policy cost will be and vice versa.

Home Warranty

While home insurance insures your home in the event of an accidental event, a home warranty will insure the systems and appliances in your home from age and general wear/tear. 

Home warranties are completely optional, and generally start around $500 per year. If something goes wrong with your HVAC, plumbing, electrical, dishwasher, washer/dryer, etc. you can call your home warranty company to come repair it or replace it for a flat service fee.

Home warranty plans are highly customizable, so you can pick and choose what you’d like to have covered. Having a home warranty helps twofold; it can save you a ton of money if something breaks unexpectedly, and can take the hassle out of having to find a contractor to make repairs.

As you can see, home insurance and home warranties are both important and serve different purposes. When you’re making an investment as big as a home purchase, it just makes sense to protect it. For more information on buying a home in the Austin area, click here.

February 18, 2019