Steve Tomaczek was surprised when he received his home’s newly appraised value in the mail this month. The Tax Appraisal District of Bell County increased his property value by 8 percent.
“The house was built in 2009 and my initial tax appraised value of the house was $184,000, and it stayed that way until 2012. Last year it dropped (to $182,000); now it’s $197,000,” he said, wondering if the increase had something to do with the recession.
Tomaczek lives on Killeen’s Bedrock Drive in a relatively new area of town, he said.
“I’ve already filed my protest,” he said. “... but my concern is, if I got mine for $15,000 more, then what did others get then?”
The deadline to protest the appraisal district’s newly set values is Saturday, according to the district’s website. And while the district sees about 3,000 to 4,000 protests per year, so far, it has received only 400 as of Wednesday, said Marvin Hahn, chief appraiser for the Tax Appraisal District of Bell County.
Hahn said he expects to see around 3,000 protests by the filing date, however. He said the district usually comes to a mutual agreement with around 80 percent of protesters.
Bell County properties were a mixed bag of values this year, Hahn said, but over the past five years, average Bell County homestead appraisal values increased about $7,000, meaning area home values remain steady.
According to district documents, in 2010 the average Bell County home was worth $123,828 while the average value now is $130,192.
Some older homes dropped in value
This does not mean that all residents saw their home values hold steady. A lot of older homes in the area saw their values drop while newer homes saw their appraised values increase, Hahn said.
“What we do is we look at actual sales of property in each neighborhood, see what trend is happening, and base the appraisal value on that,” he said.
Homestead appraisal values consist of two components: improvement and land values, said Roger Chesser, deputy chief appraiser of the tax district.
Land values are calculated based off how much a particular property would sell for if no structure was on it, he said, while improvement values include structures on the property, such as a home, shed or pool.
“In a nutshell it’s a sales-driven cost approach to values ... it varies from place to place based on if the sales in the area indicate land (and homes have) become more valuable,” Hahn said.
Chesser said that trend-wise, homes that are less than five years old could have their appraisal values fluctuate.
The land value could increase because of added nearby development, making the piece of land itself more desirable.
The value of the home could increase as well, depending on how many people would want to move into an old home instead of waiting for a new one, he said.
Areas where new growth and construction is occurring might be areas like the Bela Charca subdivision in Nolanville or subdivisions near Stan Schlueter Loop in Killeen, Chesser said. “A lot of new growth is happening there.”
Homes more than 20 years old in older neighborhoods, like areas north of Rancier Avenue or in downtown Killeen, could see their homestead values decrease, though, he said.
“We didn’t see the double-digit increases that some nearby counties saw, because our inventory levels never fell off,” Chesser said, explaining Bell County has seen a pretty steady availability in homes for sale and has not experienced the massive growth that the greater Austin area has seen.
Nevertheless, the district has increased the number of residential properties taxed since 2010. Five years ago, there was a 2.95 percent increase in the number of residential homes compared to 2009, and in 2014 there was a 3.41 percent increase in the number of residential homes compared to 2013.
The average homestead value in nearby Coryell County rose pretty much across the board this year, said Mitch Fast, chief appraiser of the Coryell Central Appraisal District. Since 2012 alone, average Coryell County homestead values rose $6,000.
Appraisal districts are independent taxing entities in Texas and do not operate under the instructions of county commissioners or any other government entity.