The Dallas Central Appraisal District and I have very different opinions on what is considered “desirable,” it seems.

Last year I began to notice a change in how DCAD valued certain multi-family and high-rise condo properties. Specifically, I noticed that The Warrington units of the same floor plan and judged as being in the same condition were almost always valued the same. On the surface, this seems logical, but is it?

First, a little background.

DCAD categorizes homes by what they call “desirability” but might as well be called “condition.” Unfortunately “desire” seems more in line with location than a structure’s physical repair. There are eight buckets of desirability ranging from undesirable to excellent. During this year’s annual property tax challenge, I was told that single-family homes utilize all eight while condos use fewer. For example, for my Athena floor plan, there are only four categories used – Average, Good, Very Good, and Excellent.

Think of desirability as a multiplier in the assessed valuation equation. If “average” equals one, then those properties rated lower get a base value multiplied by something less than one. The opposite math for those rated above “average” being multiplied by something more than one.

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How could it be that in Dallas neighborhoods booming with redevelopment, that multifamily properties and investment properties haven’t seen any increases in their appraisals?

Last week, I wrote an update on the DCAD valuations for properties that are part of a block on Lemmon Avenue that was to have been the site of a Central Market (before HEB shifted plans to McKinney Avenue). That story showed DCAD substantially raising the assessed valuations in 2019.

But as you know, I’ve written a few stories on DCAD, and particularly one on properties at the end of a block of Fitzhugh Avenue bounded by Swiss and Gaston Avenues.  I’d seen a new listing for a 616-square-foot detached house at 921 N. Fitzhugh and was curious. The price seemed high, but it was a good-ish location, so I checked the taxes. That check expanded to encompass 13 properties at the end of the block. What I found was astonishing. Two apartment buildings hadn’t seen a penny increase in their appraised value in five years. Another investment property whose value had bounced around between $75,500 and $78,560 since 2011.

What happened in 2019 is equally astonishing …

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Perhaps commercial property owners will soon be paying their fair share of property taxes if this news from the Dallas Central Appraisal District is any indication.

Last June, I reported that HEB owned a block of Lemmon Avenue between Reagan and Throckmorton Streets that was to have been a new Central Market. Those plans shifted to a more ambitious project at Lemmon and McKinney Avenues. However, DCAD had already planned on the Reagan/Throckmorton block being developed and had gutted the block’s assessed values (as they routinely do prior to development).

Each of the four townhouses was valued at $1,000, while rating as “very good” or “excellent.” The land the four sat on was also not reflective of market rates. Net-net, each of the four had three years where they were valued at less than half their 2015 market rate. While you and I likely got walloped with large increases, multi-billion dollar HEB benefitted from DCAD’s shoddy benevolence.

It’s nice to know DCAD reads CandysDirt.com, because things changed for 2019’s proposed valuations.

In 2015, 3929 Bowser was valued at $331,220 before spending the next three years assessed at $141,950. The property’s 2019 proposed valuation is $427,140. For 3520 Throckmorton, 2019’s proposed valuation is $456,750. Neighboring 3516 Throckmorton sees a 2019 proposed valuation of $464,100. Rounding out the four townhouses, 3512 Throckmorton’s proposed 2019 value is $388,920.

Are even these valuations fair?

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Neave

Dallas County has filed suit against State Rep. Victoria Neave for back taxes on this Abrams Road home.

State Rep. Victoria Neave has found herself in hot water with Dallas County and is being sued for more than $26,000 in late property taxes on her Abrams Road home.

Documents filed Tuesday reveal that Neave is arrears to the tune of $26,760.73, and is listed in the suit along with her former law partner and ex-fiance, Mark Scott Jr.

Neave represents District 107, which includes parts of East Dallas and Mesquite. (more…)

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Remember privacy? It’s what most Americans enjoyed a few decades ago. Today, it’s elusive and rare. It’s simple for any of us to find just about anyone with a few clicks on a keyboard.

In an effort to reduce the solicitations for carpet cleaning, bogus tax filing services, mortgage insurance scams and such, I tried to make the information on my recent home purchase a little more private. The result was somewhat effective.

How do these companies and salespeople find out you’ve purchased a property? It’s highly unlikely that they got it from the title company or real estate broker. We don’t share information with third parties unless we must. Government entities are about the only ones we disclose details.

However, property owner information is public and online in Texas. Our county tax appraisal sites allow people to search the owner of a property by property address or owner name. It’s pretty hard to make your ownership information private on those county web sites. But, I’ll explain how below:

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By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

A reader writes: “I bought a home in 2018 and my taxes are escrowed by my mortgage company. How do I get a homestead exemption to get a discount on my taxes? Do I need to repeat the process every year? How much does it save me?”

You most definitely want to know how to file for a homestead exemption for your 2019 property taxes. To get a homestead exemption, you must own and live in the property as your principal residence as of Jan. 1 of that tax year. So, if you purchased in 2018, you may apply for that exemption after Jan. 1, 2019.

A homestead exemption removes part of your home’s value from taxation, so it lowers your taxes. I don’t know the details about your home to tell you how much a homestead exemption can save on your property taxes, but it is generally about 20 percent. Given the property tax rates in Texas, it is worth the few minutes it takes.  

To qualify, your home must also be owned by you as an individual (or individuals). A corporation or other business entity doesn’t qualify for this exemption. Do not pay someone else to do this for you. It is free and you can do it online in a few minutes.

Here is a step-by-step guide for how to apply for a homestead exemption in the DFW area:

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popularDuring the holidays, we’ve been sharing our best stories of 2018. But as Director of Audience Engagement, I was curious — what stories were the most popular this year?  We took a look at the most popular stories based on comments and social media likes and shares. Have a favorite of your own? Share it in the comments!

January: The Lakewood Porch Pirate Nabbed

While we started covering this story during the holiday season in 2017 (in fact, we were the first news organization to bring you the story of the Lakewood Porch Pirate and the box of poop she stole), that coverage continued into 2018, when Kelli Russell was arrested. (more…)

Special contributor Lydia Blair with Mary Doggett, VP of National Investors Title Insurance

By Lydia Blair
Special Contributor

Property taxes are the talk of the town right now. Municipalities all over the Metroplex are proposing tax rate increases on top of the frequent increase in property values. This year’s tax bill may be a double whammy for our already steep homeowner taxes. If you’re thinking of avoiding those taxes, here is your warning.

“Texas is pretty efficient with collections or foreclosing because our property taxes are high,” says Mary Doggett, VP of National Investors Title Insurance.

Despite our strong homestead rights in Texas, you can lose your home if you don’t pay your property taxes. Rest assured that the taxing authorities will collect their money one way or another. There is no escaping it.

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