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Is the tax assessor's value of my home a fair indicator of what I should sell it for?

We live in a good area, gated community, nice HOA, etc. Unfortunately, family situation is changing and we may have to put the house on the market.
Relatedly, do vacant homes sell faster than occupied homes?
Thanks!
  • October 23 2009 - The Vineyard
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Answers (4)

A test of that theory would be to look at the recent sales around you and see if those prices correlate with their tax-assessed value.

Broadly speaking, staged homes sell fastest. Vacant fixers sell slowest. Being somewhere in the middle, the answer depends on the nuance of how stylish and attractive your house looks with you living in it, compared to it being vacant or filled with rented furniture. We can't tell from here!

Easy access for agents sells faster than limited access - if we can just leave a message, use the keybox to get in, we're more likely to preview (which leads to showings) than if we have to make an appointment for a very specific time on a particular day.

 
  • November 15 2009
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Boy does this answer change over the years back and forth.

1. Remember Texas is a no-income-tax state. So the primary tax revenue vessel is property tax. So when business taxes and sales taxes are down, the state needs money elsewhere, and by "state," I mean taxing authorities allowed by law to tax your property. You can see that list by going to your county property county appraisal district website and searching for your property. I.e., for Harris Co (Houston), you go to hcad.org and on your property sheet, you will see a list of taxing entities and their little piece of your overall tax rate -- the entities range from hospital districts to school district to municipal water district (if you're in one) to emergency service district, etc. When you add up all the pieces, you get your total property tax rate. The other part of the tax revenue equation is what your property value is assessed at. Rate x Assessed Vaue = Annual Tax Revenue to the Great State of Texas and its municipalities, school districts, etc.

2. Most people are sensitive to tax RATES and feel that RATE hikes are tax hikes, but when their home values are raised by assessors' offices, they don't think of that as a tax hike as much. They still protest when their home assessments are raised because many homeowners feel the impact, but a) they have to argue that their home is worth less (which isn't a good feeling for a lot of people), and b) with the past several "plush" years when appraisal districts could afford to regularly under-assess property values, they now have room to push those assessments up and stay within "market value" reason, and a majority of property owners don't have much of an argument given how property values are generally holding in major Texas metro areas -- this is what we think we're seeing.

3. But to answer your question directly: No, assessments by tax workers are not de-facto fair market value. They are merely a derivative of data that professionals like real estate brokers and appraisers actually have and use to render professional and I'd argue far more accurate judgments of real market value, plus you can talk through the numbers with these professionals if you hire one of these professionals instead of just looking at a number some bureaucrat has plopped out for purposes OTHER than for selling your home.

Hope this helps or entertains or otherwise takes your mind off something...
  • November 15 2009
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Profile picture for real estate mike
Sometimes tax appraisal districts use market value to determine assessments, but not all do. I would recommend you have a realtor, at least, prepare a cma(comps) for you to see what has actually sold and for what in your area. How would the average buyer find your house in this gated community without a realtor? Best of luck.
  • October 23 2009
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Tax assessed values do not reflect the market value of your home.  Contact a local Realtor to do a market analysis for you.  Most of us provide this as a free service.  The same approach as a professional appraiser is followed.

An occupied home usually sells better but you would have to stage it and declutter.  You Realtor should be candid with you about your particular situation.

Good luck,

Naima
  • October 23 2009
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