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Property tax appraisals are out. Here's what owners should know

The Lubbock Central Appraisal District is located at 2109 Ave. Q.
Sarah Self-Walbrick
Texas Tech Public Media
The Lubbock Central Appraisal District is located at 2109 Ave. Q.

Property owners received their tax appraisals this month, and many are surprised to see another year of increases.

According to the Lubbock Central Appraisal District’s Chief Appraiser Tim Radloff, the district began mailing notices the first week of April, with around 138,000 letters sent to property owners in Lubbock County.

Radloff explained that they take a host of data on home sales from across the market to reflect an image of where the value stands and how changes may apply to the homeowner.

The start of 2022 saw a strong sellers' market, meaning they were able to charge more for properties.

“Fewer homes on the market, more buyers in the market, low-interest rates - that got into a competitive bidding war on some properties,” Radloff said. “That, unfortunately, drove up home prices.”

It did not take long for property owners to notice the average increase in the appraised value in Lubbock, for the second year in a row. Cities across Texas have seen similar directions with home values, reinforcing concerns about accompanying property tax increases in the state.

Texas lawmakers have taken the issue into this year’s legislative session with two different approaches from each chamber. House Bill 2 passed the House of Representatives with extensive approval. It includes a $12 billion package to send funds to school districts to lower property taxes.

The bill includes a provision to lower the appraisal cap, a limitation on how much a property’s value can increase each year, from 10% to 5%. It would also expand the benefit to more property owners. Proponents say it will reduce the shock that comes with value spikes and make finances more predictable.

Critics of the bill warn it could drive prices higher by encouraging owners to hold onto their properties for better tax breaks, leading to fewer homes on the market and new buyers footing most of the tax costs.

One critic, the leader of the Texas Senate, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, has said the House’s bill is dead on arrival in his wing of the capitol. State senators approved their own approach to the property tax problem, which in part would raise the homestead exemption. That’s a credit based on how much of the value of the property can’t be taxed by school districts. Their proposal is to increase that from $40,000 to $70,000, with additional benefits for seniors.

House Speaker Dade Phelan has said he is open to the concept of homestead exemptions, but even if these tax cut proposals pass both sides of the legislature, the final decisions will come to the voters, many who are now trying to ensure their property finances remain stable this year.

Property owners can contest their most recent appraisals with the Lubbock Central Appraisal District, based on evidence from the home such as photos of outdated features or new improvements. For Lubbockites looking to possibly adjust that appraisal, Radloff said now is the time.

“We are doing walk-ins, if someone would like to come in and visit one-on-one, face to face with one of our appraisers, this is the opportune time to be able to do that,” Radloff said.

The appraisal district is doing walk-in meetings through April 28. Those who wish to file a protest have until May 15. Protests can be filed by mail, online or in person at the Central Appraisal District office at 2109 Ave. Q.

Sarah Self-Walbrick contributed reporting to this story.

Brad Burt is a reporter for KTTZ, born and raised in Lubbock. He has made a point to focus on in-depth local coverage, including civic and accountability reporting. Brad's professional interest in local journalism started on set as a member of the technical production team at KCBD Newschannel 11 before becoming a digital and investigative producer.