More taxes, less home value

July 1, 2008 1:47:31 PM PDT
Struggling to sell, some homeowners forced to pay more property taxes, while the housing market continues to drop. When we put the numbers in focus, we found it's a problem affecting almost half the neighborhoods in Harris County.

HCAD started working Saturdays last week to handle all the property tax protests. They'll have to do that for a few months. And with dozens of neighborhoods going through price dips and spotty foreclosures, many people are complaining the tax man is ignoring the market.

There are so many people who want to protest their property taxes, it takes all these people working all day for six months just to hear them.

No one is here because the tax man is too low. Everyone wants their taxes lowered. People like Jaleh Duran.

"My taxes are very high and the market is down" said homeowner Jaleh Duran. "I came to get help."

"We hear that argument a lot from homeowners," said HCAD Deputy Chief Appraiser Guy Griscom.

We wanted to know how many how often are sales prices going down, but appraisals went up. When we mapped it out we found 64 zip codes, that's 50% of Harris County, where the tax man wants more, but real estate buyers are demanding less.

"They're going up every year," said Tito Guerra.

Tito Guerra's taxes went up on his Denver Harbor home. According to realtors average sales prices dropped 38% from May 2008 to May 2007, but taxes went up 6 and half percent.

"I don't think it's fair," homeowner Tito Guerra.

Who would? The taxes up, prices down problem is especially obvious in areas where home values are less than $150,000 dollars and that is where nearly all of these examples are.

"The starter home, move up home 85-150 has dropped down considerably," said HAR Chairman. "I would say 13-15%."

But it doesn't always show up on tax bills which are printed with the best estimate of as of January 1st. In the last six months dozens of neighborhoods have been hit hard, but the tax man just can't compensate.

So where are you? We've put our map on the website right here with a link on the homepage.

See what your neighborhood did in the last six months. It may not help your protest, but it will help understand what's happening.

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