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I went to argue my property value; this is what happened

By John Toth

The Bulletin

I drove to my informal hearing appointment and got to the Snow Building in Angleton, where the Appraisal District’s offices are located, a few minutes early.

I was armed only with a letter from the district letting me know when my appointment would be.

In previous years, I just walked in and got to see an adjuster in just a few minutes. This time it was different. I had to get an appointment because so many homeowners are protesting their property evaluations.

I was assured that the wait would be just a few minutes, since I had an appointment. In no time, I was in an office, ready to state my case that this value is just too darn high.

I have done this nearly every year and have nothing but respect for the people who handle these cases. It’s obvious to them that those homeowners who show up are looking for a break of sorts, whatever they can get. They want their property values to go down after being shell-shocked by the original appraisal.

Over the years, I have always been treated well, even though I never had any kind of documentation why my house value should not be in the stars. While my case was being handled, I also watched other people argue their cases, and they were also treated with respect.

That’s the advantage of living in a small-town environment, although with the growth we are experiencing, I don’t know how small our town is going to remain.

I was shown all the sales in my part of town, on my street and on the next street. The appraiser’s monitor was actually a 42” TV, which fascinated me.

We talked about the monitor. “I bought it at Walmart,” he said. It allows me to keep everything on one screen.

I leaned over to see the screen layout and was impressed. I may hook up a big screen TV to my laptop at the office, maybe a 72-inch 4K, I told him. That would make The Bulletin layout look gigantic.

The appraiser was no newcomer. He has been doing this for many years, and he is an avid Bulletin reader.

I didn’t bring up The Bulletin, though. I never use The Bulletin to get special treatment. I don’t mention it when it comes to these situations to make sure that I do not get special treatment. But the appraiser recognized my name, which is in the paper weekly.

He basically went over all the data, like other adjusters did in previous years, then asked me what I thought the property was worth.

I answered the same way I always answer. “What it was worth last year.”

That’s a reach each year, but can you blame me for trying? There are so many subdivisions going up in Angleton, and houses around us are selling for prices I never thought we’d reach.

It’s obvious that the property is going to be of greater value than previous years. I was only trying to reduce the damage.

He worked the numbers on his big screen and came up with new numbers.

“You know, They are going to carry me out of that house one day. Not for a long time, though.

I’m not going anywhere. I have lived in the same house since 1989. We raised a family there, so can you go down some more?”

He started typing on his keyboard again.

“When you’re not holding hearings, can you get the Houston channels on this TV?” I asked.

He didn’t hear me and continued typing away.

“That’s as low as I can go, John.”

It looked good. Not what I wanted, but good enough. I wanted zero, which was not going to happen.

“I’ll take it,” I said.

An anticlimactic, but successful outcome.

If you missed your chance to protest your property values this year, clip this article out and save it to remind yourself to do it next year, when values will again increase. Don’t be afraid to go in there and just let the adjusters know that these values are just too darn high.

You don’t need a lawyer to represent you. It will be easy and not unpleasant. You’ll be treated with respect, and you’ll probably save some money after it’s all done.


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