Preparing for Binding Arbitration- By: Patrick Oconnor

Description : For many homeowners, the property tax appeal process can seem too difficult and therefore only about 8% appeal even though 70% of those who do appeal are successful. Most homeowners also do not realize that their appeal can be resolved at the informal hearing.

Here are some tips on attending an informal hearing for property tax appeals:

Before you attend the hearing it is important to make sure you are prepared and can provide evidence to back up your request for a property tax reduction. Homeowners who do not provide evidence and just tell the appraiser "my taxes are too high" or "statistics show homes in my area went up 3% last year, but my assessed value went up 10%," will likely not be successful.

Texas law provides homeowners the right to request House Bill 201 information from their local appraisal district. House Bill 201 includes essential information to prepare for a property tax hearing. Requesting a House Bill 201, 14 days before the hearing, limits what information the appraisal district can present at the hearing. If a homeowner does not request their information prior to the hearing, they can use any information available to them at the hearing. However, if you request the appraisal district information using a House Bill 201 request, they may only use information previously provided to you.

When you receive the appraisal district House Bill 201 information, start by reviewing the appraisal district's description of your home and ask yourself these questions:


  • Is the size accurate?

  • Is the year built accurate?

  • Are the qualities and amenities accurate?

If the appraisal district overstates either the quantity or quality of improvements to your property, this is an excellent means to reduce your property taxes both for the current year and subsequent years.

At the hearing you will first meet with the appraiser. Spend three to five minutes of polite conversation developing a level of rapport. The appraiser is not opposed to reducing your property taxes, so think of the meeting as a bridge. You need to provide the appraiser a basis for adjusting your assessed value. The appraiser does not mind adjusting the assessed value; he just does not want to get fired or reprimanded for making an inappropriate adjustment. Act as though the appraiser is your friend and not an enemy.

You will quickly learn the lowest value the appraiser is willing to accept. At this point, you need to either agree to that value or proceed to the formal ARB hearing. If you settle the appeal at the informal level, you will not be able to pursue an ARB hearing, binding arbitration or a judicial appeal. However, it does resolve the issue in a timely manner.

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