The past months, I have been really focused, almost obsessed with protesting our property taxes. This will be my first time ever to go through the process and I'm excited to do it and share what I learn.
The first stage of the process is the informal hearing, which I think is pretty pointless since the person you're arguing with is an HCAD staff member. They're biased and if they do anything, the most they'll do is discount the amount overvalued by 20% regardless of the evidence you provide. They do not follow any rules or tax laws, at all. If you don't agree or accept the offer they make, then you are scheduled for a formal hearing, also known as the ARB (Appraisal Review Board) hearing.
The second stage is the ARB hearing and my ARB hearing was today. I was told prior to it, that even at this phase it's hard to get good results, which now, I would have to agree. My impression is they give more weight to the HCAD staff, who really doesn't understand real estate matters, terms or values. There are basically two arguments any homeowner can protest. Either or both can be argued. There is Market Value and there is Unequal Value. I found it very difficult to get across certain points when they all do not understand know or understand concepts, like a market appraisal. When they just don't know how it works, they definitely are not going to take my word for it. For instance, one our issues was that we received a seller concession. Market appraisals will take into consideration seller concessions and make appropriate adjustment. They don't know that and they're not going to just believe me. It was tough and going through these processes, in the future, I will make a bee line to Arbitration stage.
It's the third stage, the Arbitration, where I was told by arbitrators is where you get a neutral real estate professional, attorney, or CPA, that is either paid by the homeowner's $500 deposit to go to Arbitration or by HCAD. This means the arbitrator gets paid either way and thus evaluated the evidence and listens to both cases and observes the law. Stay tune...