County Appraisal District and Sale Price?
I bought a house in Houston, TX last year. I've just received a letter from the Harris County Appraisal District this month. They ask me to fill out a questionnaire and return it back to them. In addition to the name, address, and description of the property, they also ask me for the Contract Sale Price in this questionnaire. This is the "appraisal" district and it's their job to appraise the property. Why are they asking me for the price of the house? Am I required to return this questionnaire? Can I just fill out everything else and leave the Contract Sale Price field blank? Will they appraise my house based on the price I paid for the house?
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
The appraisal district's job is to appraise properties as high as they can to generate as much tax revenue as possible.
Depending on when you bought the house (whether the market was up or down) it may have been appraised at a much higher rate than what you paid for it. Fill in the Contract Sale Price--the price YOU PAID--and send it in; otherwise, it's possible you'll be paying taxes for an amount higher than your purchase price.
Also, check your tax statement when you get it, because they may have gone ahead and appraised it at the higher price. YOU CAN FIGHT THE HIGHER APPRAISAL, and usually you can win. You may be able to access the tax history of your home on line at the Harris County appraisal district's website.
After we bought our house, the appraisal district (Dallas) increased our appraisal amount and I went down to talk to them. I really wanted them to appraise it lower than what we paid (so we'd pay less in taxes) but they at least lowered it to our purchase price. (The least they'll usually appraise it for is your purchase price.) It has gone up a little every year, but I always go down and fight it, and they at least lower it a little.
Since the market has taken a HUGE "hit" in the last 6 months or so, I'm HOPING that they'll lower it from last years' rate. Last year all they would do was keep it at the previous years appraisal, but the market hadn't dropped so far back then. I'm also hoping to get a copy of the sale contract on a house down the street which is identical to mine which sold last year for less than ours is valued.
Below is an article that ran in the Dallas Morning News about fighting property appraisals. This is from Jan. 13th, and there's another from Jan. 14th. If it's the same one I saved (but can't find right now--SORRY!) it has detailed steps on how to fight the district.
The bottom line is, fill out the questionnaire with ALL the information you have, and if they raise your appraisal, fight it! The worst that can happen is they'll tell you they can't lower it; but the BEST than can happen is they'll lower the appraisal and you can save a little money!
I don't know where farina got the idea that the purchase price of a property is confidential in Texas, but it's all a matter of public record. If you put a "purchase price" on the questionnaire that is lower than your actual purchase price you'll be wasting your time AND the appraisal districts! And they might not appreciate that very much. They get the paperwork on every property that is bought and sold, so they already KNOW what you paid for your house. Your best bet is to give accurate information, and if they try to appraise it at more than your purchase price, you can get them to at least lower it to the actual purchase price. (I've lived in Texas for over 47 years, and Dallas Central Appraisal district--DCAD--is a site I peruse regularly.)
- 1 decade ago
In Texas, the purchase price of a property is confidential. It is up to you whether you want to disclose it to the County Appraisal; so, you do not have to fill the questionnaire if you do not want to. Some people disclose the purchase price when it is lower than what the CAD has it appraised for (check your CAD website to se the current county value). When the purchase was for a higher price, some people prefer not to disclose to avoid the tax increase which is calculated on the purchase price.
FYI, counties can increase the tax rate for up to 10% a year, and, unless you have serious issues, owners can typically only contest an increase over that 10%.