SAN ANTONIO – Sergio Martinez just about hit the roof when he opened his mail from the Bexar Appraisal District and saw how high his house was valued.
“That’s not right,” he said. “It’s a lot of money. I can’t afford it.”
The estimated market value of a family house he owns in Denver Heights shot up 46% in one year. He says the land and house haven’t changed, but the neighborhood has.
“A lot of investors (are) buying property, and prices go high,” he said. “We can’t afford it. "
It was a familiar concern among people showing up at the Bexar Appraisal District’s (BAD) door after notices were mailed and posted showing unprecedented jumps in values. On average, a single-family residence is up nearly 28%.
Property owners who think the updated valuation is out of whack can appeal it. More than 140,000 property owners did just that last year.
The first step is to file a notice of appeal. That can be done by filling out the form on the back of the appraisal notice. It can be mailed, dropped off in the box outside of BAD on North Frio, or the appeal can be filed online.
Checking the red-letter box means BAD must provide you with its packet of evidence -- documents and data it used to determine your property value.
Next, you’ll schedule an informal meeting with BAD staff. Unlike in the past, you can schedule a time online that works for you, meaning you may not have to take off work. You don’t even have to drive downtown.
“You can Zoom it, phone it. You can do it completely online if you want to use the online portal,” said Bexar County Chief Appraiser Mike Amezquita.
The appeal is where you can present your evidence, such as sales data for your neighborhood or a paid appraisal.
“Pictures, estimate for repairs, the fact that most neighbors have remodeled and you haven’t, but you’ve lived in that house 25 years -- that’s compelling information. And my staff is ready, willing and able to consider that.”
The informal meeting is where most protests end with a settlement. That was the case for 94% of protests last year, according to BAD.
If you don’t want to accept the settlement offer, you can schedule a hearing with the Appraisal Review Board, which is made up of community peers, not employees of BAD. After that, you can still proceed to the courts.
Property owners can hire a professional to handle the protest for a fee or a percentage of any tax savings realized.
As for Martinez, he will do it himself and file his protest.
“It’s too much,” he said.
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