MONEY

The appraised values of homes in the Bell County area have been increasing, a trend that is likely to continue, according to a Bell County appraiser.

“The values are going up, based off the market activity that we’re seeing,” said Billy White, chief appraiser at the Bell County Tax Appraisal District.

“Inventory is quite low, and I don’t foresee the market going down anytime soon,” White said.

Michael DeHart, executive director of the Fort Hood Area Association of Realtors, said the market remains strong.

“The 2019 first-quarter median home price is up 4.7 percent over the same period last year,” DeHart said. “While the number of active listings is down slightly, the number of closed sales is up 12.1 percent.”

Because of the healthy state of the market, sale prices were significantly higher than property’s appraised values last year, White said.

“We’ve raised values to be at 100 percent of market value or what it would sell for on January 1 based on what we saw last year,” White said.

Residents can bring a copy of bring settlement statements for recent sales in their neighborhood, fee appraisals and sales data, to the Tax Appraisal District’s main office at 411 E. Central Ave. in Belton to get a better understanding of proposed appraised value increases for their area, White said.

If the property in question has damage or other condition issues, White said residents should bring current photographs of the site and cost estimates for repairs.

If residents are unsatisfied, they have until May 15 to protest their proposed appraised value, and White said his staff will assist them.

Salado, Belton, Academy and Holland all had the greatest discrepancies between market activities and appraised value this year, White said.

White said homes in the Salado area have been undervalued in recent years, and the Tax Appraisal District needs to catch up to the market.

If the area continues to fail the comptroller’s test, the Salado Independent School District will be at risk of losing state funding, White said.

The average price of Bell County homes has been climbing steadily since as early as 2011, according to Texas A&M University’s Real Estate Center.

In 2011, Bell County homes sold for an average of $143,013. In 2018, the average increased by nearly 30 percent to $184,367, the A&M data showed.

The Fort Hood Realtors group publishes a report on housing sales in several Bell County cities.

The median price of $280,000 in Salado is down 13.9 percent from the previous year, according to the report. As of March, there were 16 homes listed for sale, down 27.3 percent from the previous year, according to the report.

Belton has seen a decrease of 33.4 percent in the median price of homes, which is now $169,000 according to the Realtors’ report. The 80 homes listed for sale in March 2019 is an increase of 1.3 over the active listings this time last year, according to the report.

Generally, though, the lower supply of houses on the market means higher prices, White said.

The value of homes has increased in Copperas Cove, in Coryell County, by 14.6 percent, with the median price listed at $139,250, according to the Realtors’ report. The 88 homes actively listed in Copperas Cove in March reflect a 38 percent decrease from this time last year, the report states.

The median value of $218,000 for homes in Harker Heights is up 5.4 percent over last year, according to the report. There are 28.4 percent fewer listings, with 106 homes actively listed in March, the report said.

Killeen homes are listed at a median price of $139,900 — up 6.8 percent over last year, according to the report. There were 297 homes actively listed in March, which is down 42.3 percent over the previous year.

The current market and projections for the future will be factored into new Bell County tax rates, White said.

“Property taxes haven’t been determined yet, but there is a good chance tax rates will go up.”

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