Fort Bend Central Appraisal District|
Appraisal districts are assigned the task of locating and accurately valuing all taxable property within the county. Personal property not used for the production of income is not taxable. However, real property, business personal property and mineral interests are taxable unless they are subject to an exemption. For example, real estate owned by the government (such as Fort Bend Central or Houston) is typically exempt from taxation.
FBCAD serves the following cities: Houston (partially), Sugar Land, Stafford, Richmond, Rosenberg, Fulshear, Missouri City (partially), Arcula, Beasley, Fairchilds, Katy, Kendleton, Meadows Place, Needville, Orchard, Pleak, Pearland (partially), Simonton and Thompsons. The appraisal district values properties for all tax entities in the county. Each tax entity utilizes the assessed values established by the central appraisal district. Prior to the current system of one central appraisal district, each tax entity established its own values for property taxes.
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- The Texas Legislature has provided a generous homestead exemption for a residential homestead. The most meaningful way to reduce your property taxes for your home is to obtain a homestead exemption.
- Achieving the lowest level of property taxes is an iterative result. Reduce property taxes by annually appealing. You can file a notice of appeal by utilizing the comptroller's form or by sending a letter to the Fort Bend Central Appraisal Review Board.
- Texas property taxes are high but laws for appeals are in favor of the property owner. Obtaining the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District evidence (House Bill 201 information) greatly increases your chances for success at the Fort Bend Central Appraisal Review Board hearing. Once they indicate what evidence they will present, they are precluded from presenting any additional evidence.
- The property tax record card has the appraisal district's data for your property and includes items such as land area, building area, year built, quality of construction and current condition. Research the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District "record card" which has information used to value your property. There are often errors with factors such as land area, building area, year built, year remodeled, grade (quality of construction) and CDU (condition, utility and desirability). If the appraisal district has overstated the land area or building area for your property, you can achieve a reduction for the current year and 4 prior years.
- Market value is the price your property would achieve in an arms' length sale. Unequal appraisal addresses whether your assessment is fair compared to similar properties. When preparing for your Fort Bend Central Appraisal Review Board hearing you should gather information on market value and unequal appraisal.
- Data such as sales price, land area, building area, year built and condition comprise "comparable sales." Comparable sales are the cornerstone of market value. Sources of comparable sales data can be found in the House Bill 201 package obtained from the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District and MLS sites.
- "Sales chasing" occurs when appraisal districts focus on selectively revising the assessed value of recently sold properties (without revising the assessment of other properties). Inconsistent assessment practices can also cause unequal appraisal. Unequal appraisal is often effective in reducing property taxes. Even if your assessed value is below market value, you can appeal based on unequal appraisal.
- The Texas constitution mandates properties be assessed consistently. Unequal appraisal occurs when the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District has assessed your property at a higher level than similar properties. You can research assessment comparables on the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District website.
- Owners of recently purchased properties sometimes believe their property has been selectively reappraised. Unequal appraisal can be particularly helpful for recently purchased properties. Fort Bend Central Appraisal District appraisers are reluctant to reduce the assessed value, when it is below the recent purchase price, even if it is unequally appraised. However, the impartial Fort Bend Central Appraisal Review Board is required to consider appeals on both market value and unequal appraisal.
- Unequal appraisal presentations typically utilize either a matrix or table to array the data. Important components of an unequal appraisal presentation include a reasonable number of comparable properties (about 2 to 10) that are appropriately adjusted. These properties are usually considered to be properties that are similar in regard to the quality and quantity of improvements.
- Real estate appraisals are worth the expense in some situations, such as a gross overassessment or a complex valuation issue. Obtaining an independent appraisal can effectively document market value and will receive meaningful consideration from the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District appraiser and the Fort Bend Central Appraisal Review Board panel members.
- Property tax assessors prefer to focus on actual construction cost for recently built properties. They believe cost equals value. For recently built properties, the Fort Bend Central Appraisal District appraiser will want to review actual construction cost. A cost segregation report prepared by a qualified appraiser can separate personal property from real property.
- The property tax assessor you meet at the informal hearing is likely receptive to reducing your assessed value if you have reasonable evidence. At the hearing you will spend a few moments developing a rapport with the appraiser. Be polite with the appraiser - the appraiser is not opposed to reducing your property taxes.
- After compiling your evidence for the Appraisal Review Board (ARB) hearing, organize your thoughts and any handouts. Your presentation to the Fort Bend Central ARB should be kept between three to five minutes, since the entire hearing only lasts 15 to 20 minutes. They appreciate concise, well-reasoned presentations.
- Binding arbitration was approved by the 2005 Texas Legislature. If you are not satisfied with your results from the ARB hearing, you can request binding arbitration. When compared to a judicial appeal, advantages of binding arbitration include a lower cost, informal process, speedier resolution and the loser pays provision. Owners who are confident they are overassessed (on market value) after the ARB hearing should seriously consider binding arbitration.
- The arbitrator is an appraiser or real estate agent/broker who is not employed by the appraisal district. Binding arbitration is a new option that allows property owners an informal and inexpensive option if not satisfied with the Fort Bend Central Appraisal Review Board's decision. Binding arbitration is available for owners of properties with an assessed value of $1 million or less (after the Fort Bend Central Appraisal Review Board hearing) who are only appealing on market value. If multiple owners choose binding arbitration, it will motivate the appraisal district to nudge the ARB to consider the property owner's evidence more favorably.
- Property owners can either appeal individually or by hiring a consultant. Many owners enjoy the process of filing a property tax protest, compiling evidence and attending the hearings. Although you can appeal on your own, hiring a consultant to appeal on your behalf is risk free because there is no flat fee and no upfront costs; you only pay a portion of the savings.