Wow – Which are the Most Over-Assessed Houses in Zip Code 77571?

Since the property taxes are paid by the mortgage company for most home owners, the pain point for the home owner is about one year too late. When they receive the notice their monthly payment is increasing by $100 or $200 or more per month, the appeal deadline has likely passed. The property tax appeal deadline in Texas is May 31, or the following workday if May 31 is on a weekend.

The mortgage payment will not likely be increased until after the current year taxes are paid. For example, if your home is grossly over-assessed in 2014, the monthly payment will likely be adjusted in the Spring of 2015. But the deadline to protest your 2014 property taxes is May 31 (actually June 2 since May 31 is on a weekend).

There is really no meaningful relationship between the methodical work done by an independent fee appraiser and an appraisal district appraiser. The fee appraiser typically inspects and measures the subject property, so he has accurate data. He also personally visits each of the comparable sales to see if they are really comparable.

For homes build before 1980, an appraisal district appraiser has almost never seen the inside of the house. They just guess at the quality of construction and condition. For homes built after 1980, the appraisers attempt to measure them. However, they are often not completed when the appraisers measure them, leading to errors including size (by double counting vaulted ceilings), and level of finish. Curiously, appraisers at Harris County Appraisal District give equal credence to their data on homes built before and after 1980.

The appraisal districts errors regarding your property are compounded by errors in their information regarding comparable sales. The appraisal districts commit several errors systematically that tend to cause them to over-tax home owners. First, properties that sell are typically prepared for sale by putting them in prime condition. Properties that sell have often been recently painted have new flooring, a new roof, a new HVAC and other similar items. If a buyer was considering buying a typical house not prepared for sale and one that had been prepared as advised by the Realtor, the buyer would certainly pay more for the latter. HCAD terms the cost of preparing a home for sale “maintenance” and does not recognize any difference in condition between a recently sold house and a livable house. Harris County Appraisal District also does not recognize seller concessions, which reduce the true sales price.

A second serious problem is that appraisal districts tend to use sales that have been remodeled to value houses that have not been remodeled. Incredibly, the insular culture at some appraisal districts, including Harris County Appraisal District, is they require you to prove your house has not been remodeled. This is simply a red herring to cover up the extensive errors in their evidence regarding comparable sales. There is no requirement that the property owner prove the appraisal districts records are correct. If anything, the appraisal district doubting the accuracy of their evidence about your house should undermine their credibility on other issues. If the appraisal district is saying their evidence about your house may not be accurate, why should we give much consideration to any of their other evidence?

In addition to errors regarding the information about your house and the errors regarding the comparable sales, the model used by the appraisal district is imperfect. There is no model that can consistently value houses with precision. A computer model simply generates an estimate of value, based on the data provided.

Texas law requires property owners to file a property tax protest to be able to obtain the evidence regarding their house. Protest both market value and unequal appraisal and include a note asking the appraisal district to make their evidence available two weeks prior to the hearing. The protest form is available at http://www.poconnor.com/pdf_forms/41-44.pdf

In many cases, given the large number of substantial errors in valuing houses, the appraisal district’s evidence will clearly show the property is over-assessed. It is critical that you protest prior to May 31, or you will not be able to get the information and determine if you are taxed fairly. Since over 200,000 houses in Harris County are over-taxed by at least 10%, encourage your family and friends to protest, so they at least get to see the appraisal districts evidence.

After you protest and obtain the appraisal district’s information, one of the first priorities is to see if their evidence is accurate for your house. Then check to see if the sales data is accurate. The Houston Realtors make the photos of properties sold are on-line after the sale. For Harris County Appraisal District, you can access these at har.com.

The data used for analysis was all sales of houses in Harris County that occurred during October 1 2013 to March 31 2014, for which we had a purchase price and a 2014 HCAD market value. The only records that were eliminated were those where there was a major discrepancy between the Realtor MLS data and the HCAD tax roll regarding the size of the land and / or building. Stated differently, this analysis includes all sales except those for which complete information was not available.

Guide to Choosing the Right Family Holiday Insurance

Choosing the best family holiday insurance is more than getting an online comparison and buying the cheapest option you can find. There is more to what makes a policy worth your time and effort aside from its price.

One of the most important things to bear in mind is that there are many different types of travellers. Individual backpackers might be able to get the best value in a multi-trip policy that costs only £30, but families travelling together have different needs – including the age of the family members, the overall value of their luggage and their itinerary. It is for these reasons that there is no one recommended policy that can fit everyone. Instead, there are crucial factors that you need to take into account when deciding on the best policy for your family.

Do You Go On Multiple Trips?

Family holiday insurance can either be single trip or multi-trip, and the value of each really depends on how much travelling your family does in a year. Multi-trip policies cover any number of short trips within a calendar year; but if your family goes on holiday at least four times in a year, getting a multi-trip option will understandably save you money in the long run – not to mention lessen the hassle of going through the entire process every time you plan a trip. If you think that a multi-trip policy is a viable option, be sure opt for one that will cover the countries you frequently visit or would like to visit and scratch from the list the countries that you won’t go to, as that will affect the final price.

Do You Need Group Coverage?

When getting individual insurance, you only need to think about your personal needs – and most of the time that’s easier. But when choosing the best family holiday insurance, you need to consider every member’s individual needs. Generally, it will be cheaper to buy a policy that covers the entire family rather than one for each member. But again, there are further considerations to think about. For instance, when you get a policy that covers everyone, will that policy allow individual members to travel on their own or does it only stand if you travel together? You will need to find a provider that will be able to provide you with exactly the policy you need, depending on how often you normally travel individually and as a family. It might be difficult to find at first if your needs are specific, but it’s worth the extra effort.

Do You Settle for the Standard Limits or Do You Get Extra Coverage?

Every family holiday insurance policy will have a basic coverage listed. For some families this may suffice, but obviously not all families are alike. The typical standard coverage includes flight cancellation, baggage damage or loss, missed flights, emergency medical assistance and personal liability. However the amount covered may vary, depending on what you choose and on specific details you want to add, such as outdoor activities or sports that you want covered.

3 Questions to Keep In Mind When Purchasing Family Holiday Insurance

In this day and age, purchasing family holiday insurance has become one of the staples of travel – much like having GPS-enabled cameras, phones with 3G capability, or luggage with RFID trackers. While once these items seemed frivolous and unnecessary expenses, over time they have proven that the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. Ever more importantly, they greatly enhance the experience of travel, making it safer, simpler, and more enjoyable – from the moment you leave on your trip to long after you have returned home.

Like the above-mentioned gadgets, family holiday insurance has evolved from being a luxury to an indispensable travel standard. The benefits of having it are multiple and incontrovertible – however, like these gadgets, the benefits are best enjoyed by those who know what they need before they make their purchases (do research) and those who take the time to get to know the capacities of their gadgets (read the manual).

Buying family holiday insurance, like all group-based purchases, can be simpler and cheaper than purchasing a policy for a single person. Listed below are a few questions you need to keep in mind when negotiating an appropriate policy.

Just Who Are Your Family Members?

The definition of ‘family’ has evolved in the modern age. Gone are the days when the unit was automatically Mum, Dad and the kids. Today the term can mean everything from step-parents and step-siblings, to adopted family, extended family, found families, and even family pets! Unfortunately, however, the law’s definition is not as all encompassing as that of society at large. For example, in some standard contracts, ‘family members’ are limited to legally wed parents and children residing at the same address, which can present some problems for children of divorced parents or for grandparents who live elsewhere. The good news is, a reputable company will help customise a policy specific to the needs of your unique situation.

What Are the Ages of Your Family Members?

Just as with most group services, family holiday insurance can mean savings in the form of discounts. However, one of the bases of these discounts is the ages of the group members. For examples, airlines often have promotions where children under a certain age travel with their parents for free or at a huge discount. In the same vein, senior citizens are also subject to special rates. Make sure you discuss the ages of your group members and how they affect your rates when buying a policy.

What Are Your Health Status and Existing Medical Conditions?

Because medical and emergency coverage is one of the cornerstones of insurance, making sure you have clearly and accurately declared the existing health conditions of your family members is imperative. Having your family checked and given a health clearance by your physician for your trip will not only give you greater peace of mind (especially if you are travelling with children or seniors), but it can also greatly simplify the process of seeking reimbursements or claims, should it be necessary.