SAN ANTONIO – If you were rubbing your eyes in disbelief when you opened your notice of property appraisal, you have plenty of company and, most likely, higher property taxes to go with it.
“This is ridiculous. It went up so high,” said Gilbert Rios, who said his property skyrocketed by more than 40 percent.
This year, preliminary home valuations are up an average 8.8 percent for Bexar County, according to the Bexar Appraisal District. That’s about the same as last year.
What does that mean by way of higher taxes?
If the average home in the Northside Independent School District jumps from $190,637 to $207,413, 8.8 percent, the owner would pay about $450 more in property taxes. That’s if tax rates remain the same.
For the average home in the SAISD, a value increase from $75,300 to $81,900, the owners would pay about $188 more in taxes this year.
What’s driving the values is the hot housing market and sales prices that continue to rise.
“We continue to track the market and to trail the market, but by law, our values have to reflect what’s happening in a given neighborhood,” said Mike Amezquita, chief appraiser.
While the North Side continues to see values rise, Amezquita said it’s the neighborhoods in the urban core that are seeing the most redevelopment and, as a result, steeper climbs in valuations.
“I think they’re becoming more attractive to younger folks wanting to be near downtown, and it’s driving prices up,” Amezquita said.
Property owners who disagree with their new assessments can appeal. Notice of appeal must be filed by May 15 or 30 days after the appraisal notice was received, whichever is later. That date is about two weeks earlier than it has been for the past 40 years. The legislature changed the deadline.
Manuel Garcia went to the Appraisal District’s offices armed with photographs he hoped would convince appraisers his value is too high.
“My little humble home was like a little shack out on the West Side,” he said.
Garcia said over the past decade, his value has risen from about $60,000 to now $160,000. He said redevelopment in his area is driving values up and making it tough for taxpayers.
Amezquita said he expects some 120,000 people to protest. He even encourages it and suggests homeowners get their packet of evidence from the district.
Last year, 89 percent of appeals were settled informally, according to Amezquita.