Friday, October 27, 2006

Property Tax Value Arbitration

I just spent the last three days taking a 30 hour class o Arbitration. Something new has come to Texas and it's very exciting! Unlike many other states, Texas homeowners are sent a new tax value the first week of May every year. If a home owner is unhappy with the value, they are allowed to fight the value assessed. This value is not necessarily the market value of a home, or what a buyer will pay for the home. This is just the tax value of the home that the appraisal district assesses.

Once you receive your notice, you have a certain amount of days to make it known that you're not happy. Most people just go to the county appraisal office during business hours and ask to speak with one of the assessors. If not happy with a one on one conversation, the home owner can then chose to go to the ARB, Appraisal Review Board. This is where the home owner gets 15 minutes to state their case and a panel of 3-5 people decide what the value should be.

If the home owner still is not happy with the value, they can then file for Arbitration. They send in a notice to the State Comptroller's Office along with $500 and wait for a hearing. That's where I come in! When someone requests a hearing, they have the opportunity to chose an arbitrator as long as both parties agree, but what's mostly been happening is the Comptroller's computer spits out a name and when I'm sent a notice, I can either accept it or decline it.

Once the hearing is accepted, I have 120 days to render an award. This means I need to send out notice to both parties to have a hearing within about 45-60 days in case either needs to reschedule somewhere in there. Arbitration means the home owner cannot file suit in court to fight their value once a decision is made. If the home owner prevails, they will receive $450 back from their initial $500 deposit. If they lose, they lose their $450 as well.

This is a new process in Texas and I'm sure there are going to be some glitches the first couple of years, but I'm excited to have just completed the required course work and roll plays, and I'm sending in my application today!


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