First, the bad news: A very important property tax deadline is coming up, and not many people are aware of it.
But the good news is that one company has created a way to make meeting that deadline so much easier.
PropertyTax.io was developed by Goodrich Realty Consulting, first as a tool for their tax consultants to use in the company’s property tax division. Last year, they released the tool to the general public, and it has the potential to really shake up the way people appeal their property tax bills.
“Our mission was to create a smarter, faster appeals process,” said Glenn Goodrich, GRC’s Director of Technology & Property Tax.
And word is getting out about the product — just this week it was featured in a story by Dallas Morning News consumer watchdog Dave Lieber, in fact. And this notice is happening just in time — the deadline to file to appeal property taxes is May 15, two full weeks earlier than previous years.
“The deadline is May 15 this year,” Goodrich said. “It’s one of those things that they voted on in the legislature.”
“The appraisal districts have been hitting record appeals year after year,” he explained. “And they have to certify by mid-July.”
Goodrich said he fears the new deadline may catch some property owners unawares, too. “There are no billboards or anything,” he said. “You’ll still get your notice, and you still have 30 days from then to file the appeal, but there hasn’t been a lot of publicity about it.”
And with property values continuing to climb in North Texas, more and more homeowners are looking to shave off at least a little from their property tax bills. In fact, recent analysis shows that Texas has some of the highest property tax rates in the country — and North Texas has some of the highest in Texas.
“Property tax rates are high, and property values have just gone through the roof,” Goodrich said, adding that those increases have driven people to do a lot more appealing.
But while some may file an appeal, not all of those folks actually follow through, he said.
“Fifty percent of the people that do owner appeals, they don’t show up to the hearing,” he said. “They don’t follow through. They don’t try to get the value lower.”
Goodrich said the prospect of gathering evidence, trekking down to the appraisal district office and arguing for a lower value likely discourages many from completing the process of appealing — which was one of the biggest drivers for developing their application.
“We wanted to make the process easier, and make it easier to follow through,” he said. “It’s an overwhelming, exhausting thing to think about, and we can make it much easier.”
So how does it work? In just a few seconds, you can log on to the website, put in your address, and register. The next screen will tell you if, based on the algorithms that factor in comparable properties using several data sets, including MLS data and appraisal district data, you’d have success in appealing your taxes this year.
You get all that information, and then you can decide whether you’d like to pay the $65 fee to generate a report you can use to defend your appeal.
“Each property is $65, and we’ll tell you before you pay if it’s worth it,” Goodrich said. “You can get a report in two minutes in our express mode.”
For those who feel they would like to fine-tune their report, a DIY mode allows the user to select specific comparable properties and upload photos of their house to bolster their claims.
“DIY mode allows you to override our auto-populated condition adjustment and pick your own comps, and you can upload your own photos using them as a basis to compare your kitchen to a comps kitchen for instance. Adding your own photos along with a comps photos to the report will really separate you from what others are bringing in,” Goodrich said.
The report comes nicely organized and ready to turn in with your appeal. “It makes the appraisal district’s job easy,” he said. PropertyTax.io supports Collin Central Appraisal District, Dallas Central Appraisal District, Denton Central Appraisal District, and Tarrant Appraisal District.
And bonus — once you’re in the PropertyTax.io system, it will track your valuation every year after, and send an email advising you on the success of an appeal.
“We want to make it easy to file an appeal every year on your own,” Goodrich said. “Our site is designed to tell you right off the bat if you should protest.”
Goodrich, who comes from a family of Realtors, said he knows that many approach local agents for help in pulling comps while gathering evidence for their appeals, and that many Realtors do this as a service.
“I don’t want to replace the realtor,” he said. “I want to be a resource.”
He said that the company offers promotional codes for Realtors to share with clients. “I know that one of the busiest seasons for Realtors is Spring — which is also the time people are requesting CMAs for their property tax appeals.”
Goodrich said he hopes Realtors will see his app as an improved resource, above and beyond what a CMA can offer.
“A CMA is a good source, but it has a few holes that my system fills in,” he explained. “I augment the MLS data with the tax data. I have data points that I analyze that the MLS doesn’t have access to. We want to work with the Realtor community.”
Goodrich said the application can make adjustments for land value, property condition, building quality ratings and other things MLS may not factor in, but appraisal districts do.
“My reports speak their language,” he said. “For instance, maybe some of the comps back up to a golf course, but the subject property doesn’t, so I can make an adjustment down for that.”
And of course, if someone needs an expert to talk to, GRC can do that as well.”
“We don’t only sell a data package to people,” he said. “We have a knowledge base, and can help advise on things like homestead exemptions or how to appeal and what happens. Our live chat is a great feature to connect the public with an expert.”
It’s important — especially as rates and values continue to rise — that property owners keep tabs on what the market is doing in their area, and in their neighborhood.
“Everyone should consider filing an appeal every year, but I don’t think it serves anybody to file an appeal for the sake of filing an appeal,” Goodrich said. “It can jam up the system, and takes time and resources away from people that maybe really do need to appeal.”
Goodrich said that he is also aware that not everyone has the means and resources to appeal — whether it be because of transportation issues, not being able to take off work for a hearing, or not knowing how to gather the information to support a claim. Often, he said, whether an appeal is filed and completed depends on how much money a person has to fight the valuation.
“That’s why we designed the app the way we did,” he said. “It was the main driver for creating it — to create a less expensive option, and a more accessible one. This works on your mobile phone, even.”
Goodrich said that some have called him a “disruptor” in the property tax consultant world. “I don’t want to use the word disruption, because it sounds almost negative, but this really is,” he said. “It just does an honest job and it is affordable for many.”
And the company’s sole aim is to make sure that everyone who wants to file an appeal can — regardless of the value of their property.
“My goal is not to make money on every site visitor, it’s to add value,” he said. “My hope is that people will value the experience and the ease, and will tell other people about it, and that there are a lot of people we can help.”