Dallas County Tax Assessor John Ames’ Property Taxes Went DOWN for 2016 in DeSoto

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Update, 4:09 pm: there IS a good, well, a very bad reason why John Ames had such a low appraisal: his home burned down! Details coming up.

I love our Dallas County Tax Assessor John R. Ames, I really do. I’ve met him, I voted for him, just love the guy. I think he’s doing a great job down at the tax office. Plus I think he’d be really fun at a party.

But I want to know, what’s in the secret appraisal sauce down there? John lives in DeSoto, in a darling circa mid 80’s house on a cul de sac. It’s 30 years old, 5199 square feet, and in very poor condition.

(Let’s face it: all our homes are in very poor condition, right? My dishwashers just broke, and I just found rotted wood from all this rain. This house is going to hell in a Louis Vuitton handbag.)

Last year his house was appraised at $254,380.

This year it’s appraised at $177,270.

In 2015 his land was $36,000, improvement was $218,380. Proposed for 2016 is land at $36,000 holding steady there but improvement is down at $141,270.

I mean Zillow, a real estate gawking site that is always off — wait — did you see where Zillow founder Spencer Rascoff’s former home sold for way less than the Zestimate?

On February 29, Rascoff sold a Seattle home for $1.05 million, 40 percent less than the Zestimate of $1.75 million shown on its property page a day later.

The gap between the Zestimate of Rascoff’s former property and its sales price has decreased only modestly since then.

Zillow readily acknowledges that Zestimates can be inaccurate, but some consumers can still take them at face value, causing headaches for agents.

Thank God because  Zillow has John’s house “zestimated” at $298,373.

That’s completely ridiculous but let me tell you: I think DeSoto is John’s secret sauce — DeSoto here I come!



Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for Forbes.com, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature CandysDirt.com, and SecondShelters.com, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).

Reader Interactions


  1. CRITIC says

    You got to know people in high places to get an assessment on your homestead as John R Ames did !!!!
    1404 Armstrong UP
    1405 Armstrong UP
    1408 Armstrong DOWN -Ames
    1409 Armstrong UP
    Everyone else gets an increase in the block
    Something stinks

  2. Jon Anderson says

    How does a structure lose 36% in value…in a year…while the land remains unchanged?
    How does a structure lose 36% in value…in a year…when the rest of Dallas is smoking hot?
    How does a structure lose 36% in value…in a year…when all the neighbors get an increase?
    Was there a fire? Did he demolish 1/3 of his home?
    CRITIC is right…something stinks.

  3. dormand says

    Would the public servant Mr. Ames consider taking a check for the assessed value of some $255K for his home?

    I suggest that those in positions of authority lead by example.

    Otherwise we find ourselves in that position best related to by Lord Acton:

    “Official truth is not actual truth.”

  4. Sum Ting Up says

    All of the other homes on the street are VERY GOOD or just GOOD. I just can’t believe that a 5,200 square foot home in this area could be listed as VERY POOR.

    He also paid in the $270,000 range in 2010! Here’s how it was described back then…

    Btfully maintained home on cul-de-sac near Thorntree CC. Grmt kit w lrg island,sub-zero,dbl.ovens,pantry,blt-in desk.Utlty w sink blt-ins. Lg.brkfst rm with view of pool & coverd patio. LR has frpl & wd flrs. Den has blt-in bk cases. Frml DR. Two mstr suites, both w prvt baths, dual sinks & walk-in closets. Frst mstr w frpl & sitting area. 2nd mstr. w prvt. entrance & prvt patio. 3 car grg. w storage. Attic studded & flrd for psbl 3rm add.

      • LonestarBabs says

        oh my….sorry to see he had a fire but glad to see there was a legitimate reason as outlined in your newest article.

        WHEW glad nothing was amiss there. Living in Dallas Co we just naturally get suspicious about city/county officials.

  5. Mike says

    Just curious, what makes him such a great tax assessor-collector ‘doing a great job’ when your website has had article after article about how undervalued the rich folks’ houses are? Which they are. I look for more than ‘fun at a party’ from my public servants. I do feel bad for him losing his house to a fire, but this is all contradictory.

    • mmCandy Evans says

      Hi Mike. I agree, we need to look for more than “fun at a party” from public servants but a fun spirit always helps. John is doing a great job of administering and streamlining the tax office… reducing paperwork, cutting costs, bringing in technology and the attitude of everyone in the tax office is now “we are here to serve you.” How refreshing. That’s something a lot of politicians and civil servants seem to forget. We are paying their salaries, and I cannot stand the “could care less” attitudes of some government employees.

      Not at the Dallas County tax Office!

      John Ames does not set property values, the chief appraiser, Ken Nolan, is the one who determines the appraised values. The tax assessor/collector collects the taxes. The Dallas City council sets the rates. They raised the tax rates back in 2010. And now that we are seeing so many gains in property values some people are getting hit hard with huge tax increases. So we are on the look-out for any discrepancies.

      In Ken Nolan’s defense, it’s hard for him to know the values when property sales are not reported in the MLS. Possibly the whole system is a mess and needs a re-haul. That’s not John Ames’ fault, nor is it his job.

    • Rob Wheelock - aka the Tax Doctor says

      The Tax Assessor Collector has nothing to do with setting the taxable values of properties! His job is to collect the taxes from we the people. I don’t know Mr. Ames, but his website says he “is committed to improving efficiencies and increasing technology in the Dallas County Tax Office. He believes that great customer service is the key to quality collections and has incorporated that philosophy in the Dallas County Tax Office Mission Statement:

      “Provide Dallas County Citizens with Excellent Service using Innovative Technology to Ensure Quality Collections.”

      It’s not his fault that property values are increasing any more than it’s his fault that we have to pay him to renew the registration on our cars each year. Let’s put the blame on the fact that the Dallas/Fort Worth area is a great place to live and the rest of the world has figured that out and are moving here in droves. Blame Toyota, State Farm, Liberty Mutual, and FedEx.

      I work hard to make sure my clients don’t pay more than their fair share when it comes to property taxes, but the fact is, values are up and our investment in our homes is likely doing better than any of our other investments. I don’t want to pay more in taxes, and I agree the system needs some work, but there’s no place I’d rather live than right here. State Senator Paul Bettencourt out of Houston is on the Senate Finance Committee and is working hard to make some changes in the next legislative session. We’ll see what he cad do!

  6. Douglas Silver says

    His house caught on fire and was only 40% rebuilt on January 1. Maybe do a little more research before you post accusations of wrongdoings. You should pull this post down now.

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