At Wayfinder, one of our main goals is to make an impact for good in communities and for families. Back in February of 2021, an opportunity to do good presented itself in Texas with Storm Uri. Storm Uri hit Texas very hard and impacted millions of people. The freeze hit for almost seven days and it affected the electrical grid, so there were many people who did not have food, could not heat their homes, and could not even get gas for vehicles because the systems were down.
Evaluating the Situation
When we heard about the situation, immediately our hearts broke. We called down to our properties in Texas asking if they were ok and if they needed anything. The regional director expressed that they really needed food. The H-E-B was almost completely out of food, save for a few remaining lunch meat packages. They were concerned that their tenants would not have enough food to get through the weekend. It was really scary. We sat there with that news and said, “Well, we can’t necessarily write a check. It’s not really going to help to just write a check for this one.”
Seizing the Opportunity
After some brainstorming, we called the regional director back and said, “Hey, if we got a truck and filled it with food and brought it, would that help you?” She broke down in tears, and she said, “I can’t believe you would be willing to help, that is amazing.”
Taking the next step, we found out that we could rent a refrigerated truck. We then took it to Costco and Sam’s Club and asked if they could waive their limits on some of their products to help us, and they said, “Absolutely.” The staff at both places all jumped on board to help us. It was pretty amazing.
When we got the truck down to Texas, there were about 30 people waiting there for us to help us unload the truck. We then worked with our client and their team to unload the truck. They had boxes ready so that as we unloaded the truck, we began to make food kits that would get a family through the weekend.
Treating Every Property Like Our Own Home
The fingerprint of Wayfinder, what makes us unique, is that we treat every property as if it was our own. In this situation, if that was our own property, we absolutely would do anything we could to help. If we are looking for opportunities to do good in the world, they will come. All we have to do is be willing to say yes.
At Wayfinder, it is our goal to always say yes to opportunities to do good.
The Importance of Local Expertise in Your Property Tax Agent
Why Local Expertise Matters
One of the low points in my career was when I had a case in Kentucky. I had done everything I could to prepare for this case. I did my CoStar Comps and reviewed the property on Google Earth. I did everything I knew how to best prepare myself… all except for a site visit because I was stretched too thin at my former firm to be able to do that. There was no time to visit the property in person; I wasn’t able to dedicate more than a few minutes to this case. Little did I know, my lack of preparation was about to change everything.
I arrived in Kentucky, at my hearing, and went in to present my case. After I presented my case, the response from the board member was something I had never heard before. Much to my dismay, he said, “Boy, you’re not from around here. Because if you were, you would know that no one would ever compare that part of town to the one that you’re in right now.” And that was a game-changer for me.
If At First, You Don’t Succeed…
I thought that the properties looked similar in the aerial shots. I thought they looked similar on CoStar Sales, but my sales were low because they were in an area that didn’t warrant the same kind of sales as my subject. Well, needless to say, I walked out of there having lost my case. I felt dejected and determined that I would never feel that way again. Because of this experience, at Wayfinder, we visit every property we represent. We always know what we’re talking about in that market, because we…
Visit the equity comps
Drive around the neighborhood
Visit our sales comps
Perform exhaustive market data research
Interview people and business in the area
The Wayfinder Guarantee
That is what makes Wayfinder different from other agencies. We guarantee to visit your property. We never give our agents more than they can handle, so that they always can fulfill that guarantee. In most agencies, an agent has hundreds or thousands of properties they represent every year. It’s a quantity game. At Wayfinder, ours is a quality game. We never have more than 100 properties per agent, because that allows us to give days, not hours, for every one of our properties. I learned my lesson in that wonderful hearing in Kentucky where I got slapped upside the head and realized there is a better way to do property tax appeals.
Are you ready to experience the difference local expertise can make for your property valuation? Connect with one of our agents today!
Wayfinder was founded from a desire in our hearts to do some good in the world through the process of appealing property values. When we began sharing this idea with others, the first reaction that we got was, “Yeah, that’s not gonna work. That’s a nice idea, but it is not really how life works.” But in spite of that advice, we still had to give it a try and ask the question: What could be possible if we had the position of making a difference and doing good through our work?
The Start Of Something New
So, we created Wayfinder. It was really exciting to see what we could do even in the first year. We were able to work with our clients, successfully reduce their property values, and take some of that money and give it back to charitable causes that our clients cared about. For the organization Feed My Starving Children, we were able to go as a team and help make food packets to give to children that are in dire straits all around the world. That was one of the first blessings of being able to start Wayfinder.
One of the most surprising parts of this adventure has been discovering the many opportunities to go above and beyond when we intentionally seek to do good. I remember hearing from a company that received their tax bills and the boardroom conversation turned into, “Who are we going to let go in order to afford our property tax bill?” That was sadly the only option that they could think of to free up money to afford their tax bills. We fought for our client and got their property values reduced so significantly that their conversation changed to, “We can give our property managers and employees bonuses this year!”
Sometimes property valuation appeals get a bad name. Some people say that by protesting your value, you end up hurting communities and families. The media will say that you are taking away from schools and hospitals. However, the reality is that you are not taking away from any of that when you appeal your value. You are simply helping the process be more fair and equitable. The government will collect all of the money that they need to collect for the schools and they’re gonna get it through property taxes which allows it to be paid fairly based on the value of your property.
We take that a step further by asking our clients what causes they care about and donating to those causes. A lot of times they care about giving back locally because they know that a strong community is crucial to everyones success. For multifamily owners, they know they are protecting homes and they value the fact that they are helping some of the most vulnerable to have a place to live. Owners care about making that place the best it can be with amenities and a safe neighborhood. Together we are able to give back to your communities.
Making An Impact
These stories are just part of what makes going to work amazing. We are so thankful to be part of the process of making a positive impact in communities and on families and individuals. The impact is above and beyond what we could have ever imagined when we created this company. In the beginning, we were questioned if we could really make a difference. Years down the line, we now know that the work has improved communities and our ability to give. It is truly a result of the desire to make an impact. People may have mocked it at the beginning, but look at what we’ve been able to accomplish alongside our wonderful clients!
At Wayfinder, we have seen so much good already… and we are just getting started.
You Absolutely Can, But What Are the Pros and Cons?
Texas Believes in Property Rights
Texas believes in property owners’ rights and has set up its system to allow property owners to appeal their own properties. This means you can absolutely appeal on your own. Doing it yourself means you will need to prepare your evidence and be ready to present it to the Central Appraisal District or the Appraisal Review Board. If you are not satisfied with the results at those levels, you can hire an attorney to pursue more in litigation. If your property is small enough, you may even be able to represent yourself in arbitration rather than filing in court and hiring an attorney.
Pros and Cons to Doing It Yourself
Things to consider when deciding to appeal your own property valuations.
You don’t have to pay anyone based on your tax savings
You know everything that is happening and you don’t need to rely on someone for an update
You care deeply about your property
You know the story about what is happening in your market
You are alone in the process and it isn’t your full-time focus
Limited or no access to valuations tools that require costly subscriptions
Limited market data revolving only around your property
Limited time and a need to work on other responsibilities
Frustration dealing with slow processes
Researching and understanding the nuances of the property tax law.
Hiring an Expert can Ease Your Burden
Appealing on your own has its benefits, but in many cases, the frustration and time spent are not worth the reward. In most cases, it is better to reach out and ask an expert for help. They are able to focus their time on your case and help you achieve great results. The results far outweigh the costs for their services.
If you have questions or would like to see what an expert could do for you, the specialists at Wayfinder Tax Relief are ready to help
In Texas, property owners are issued annually a Notice of Value from the Central Appraisal District (CAD) where their property is located. These notices of value are the CAD’s determination of a property’s market value and will influence a property’s tax liability in the coming year. Taxpayers have the option to appeal this value if they believe it to be too high. To do this, taxpayers or agents must fill out Form 50-132 from the Comptroller’s Office and file it with the CAD that issued the Notice of Value before the indicated deadline.
Informal Meetings and Appraisal Review Board Hearings
Following a successful filing of an appeal, the taxpayer is then able to meet informally with the CAD and attempt to reach a settlement. Reach out to your local CAD if you have filed a protest and ask for a time to meet informally. Most cases settle at this informal stage. If a settlement cannot be agreed upon with the CAD informally, the taxpayer and the CAD will then go before an Appraisal Review Board (ARB) for a hearing on the dispute. Both sides will present their case in a 15-minute hearing, and the Board will issue a decision.
Post ARB Hearing Options
Following an ARB hearing, taxpayers have yet another option to seek tax relief. If a taxpayer is not satisfied with their property’s value after an ARB hearing, the taxpayer may file a lawsuit against the CAD in court. However, it is important to note, litigation is only available to those that have “exhausted their administrative remedies” before filing to court. This means that a taxpayer can only file a lawsuit concerning their noticed value if they have filed an appeal and had an ARB hearing as stated above. Of important note, certain properties also qualify for arbitration with the CAD. This can be quicker and cheaper than litigation but requires certain, specific factors exist before taxpayers may seek relief in this manner. Please consult a Texas property tax expert in determining if your property qualifies for arbitration.
This process happens every year and many property owners have little understanding of this process and their rights. If you are a multifamily property owner in Texas, please reach out to one of our specialists so that we can help navigate you through this process and get you the tax relief you need.
How Much Can My Texas Multifamily Property Value Increase?
Taxable Value Equals Market Value
In Texas, Central Appraisal Districts (CADs) are tasked with valuing property within their jurisdiction for taxation purposes. This taxable value is 100% of its “Market Value” in Texas, which is essentially what the property would sell for in an open and fair market. CADs use recent listed sales, income production documents, and cost documents to value these properties at a level they believe would entice sellers and buyers in the market to come to the table. As a result, when something happens in the market that will significantly affect the sale price of these assets, taxable values should respond accordingly.
No Limit to Increase in Value
Unfortunately for those owners that like to work with set values, there is no limit to the increase or decrease of a property’s taxable value from one year to another. All that is required of the CAD is to find the market value of the properties it values as of the valuation date, regardless of previous years values. Resultantly, some Texas jurisdictions have recently seen their property values increase over 100% in one year following a boom in real estate values on the open market. Buyers and sellers are trading these properties at higher numbers, so the taxable values have followed suit. While this may provide little comfort to the owner that saw their taxable value jump significantly last year, this is the reality of ad valorem taxation on real estate within Texas. Taxable values can and do jump up significantly. The only partial limit to increased tax burden for property owners is that the Texas legislature does put restrictions on increasing tax rates annually.
Get Help With Unexpected Expenses
Because of this reality, many owners feel stress and uncertainty when taxable values come out every year, and the importance of a strong tax advocate cannot be overstated. Owners face unexpected tax expenses often in Texas, and the ability to offset some if not all of this increased expense can make a big impact on the communities these owners serve. If your multifamily property tax bill has increased in the past few years, please reach out to a specialist today for help in getting a fair market value of your property.
Can your tax agent get you bigger reductions than you can on your own?
If not, it’s time to reevaluate your agent
Property Specific Knowledge
Knowing the subject property is one of the first rules in valuation. As an owner or property manager, you likely have visited your property and know the difficulties it is facing. This is critical to determining an accurate value. For an agent to secure a greater reduction than you, they should know the property as well as, or better than the owner. This can only be achieved through site visits where the agent puts boots on the ground. First-hand knowledge by a dedicated agent allows them to find valuation issues that even a very diligent owner may overlook. Online maps, street views, and satellite pictures can never replace a real visit.
Valuation Knowledge and Time
The next critical step is knowing standard valuation methods, and which ones are most appropriate for your property type. For Texas multifamily, the income approach is usually the best method for determining value. In the case of new construction, cost would be more appropriate. As an owner, if you have experience with the approaches and the time to research market income conditions, you might do fine appealing on your own. However, if like most owners, you have dozens of other important issues demanding your attention, it may be difficult to devote the necessary time and resources to a valuation appeal. Your time would be far better spent doing that which only you can do and utilizing a professional specialized in Texas multifamily property taxes.
The right property tax agent has the time and resources to focus on your valuation appeal. They have extensive experience in the approaches and market. By utilizing a dedicated agent, you can free up your time to accomplish your vital priorities and still secure results. Thereby increasing your productive output, without becoming overwhelmed.
Relationship with the Central Appraisal District
As a final point, it is critical to remember that relationships matter. If you plan on owning the property for any length of time or want to keep doing business in the county, you should consider your relationship with the Central Appraisal District (CAD). They are trying to do their best with their limited time and resources. Approaching them with an aggressive attitude usually will result in the same behavior right back. When both sides begin by entrenching themselves in their position, it is hard to make progress. Unfortunately, some agents take this approach. Not only does is it hurt your potential valuation, but it can also harm your company’s reputation in the county. Whether you appeal on your own or seek a tax agent’s help, find those who are good at building bridges.
How Can I Reevaluate My Agent?
If you have an agent but wonder if they are getting you the best results, use the Tax Agent Checklist to evaluate your agent today. The insights you will gain from these 10 easy questions will help you determine if your agent can really get you a bigger reduction than you can on your own. You shouldn’t have to go it alone or settle for mediocre help. With something as important as your property taxes, you should Experience Excellence.
When taxpayers are deciding to file a protest of their noticed value, they must first come to an opinion of value. If the taxpayer’s opinion of value is less than the noticed value, it may be worth filing an appeal. However, taxpayers should be honest in their valuation approaches so as not to file a fruitless or even frivolous appeal. Examine market impacts and see if there are any sales of comparable properties near your own. You can also look at similarly situated properties and see if they are near your same value. If after you have done your due diligence and come to the unbiased opinion that your property is overvalued, you then need to consider the impact of an appeal.
Is the Reduction Significant?
After you have settled on a value for your property you believe the evidence supports, it is then important to analyze the impact your reduction will have on your tax liability. To roughly calculate the tax savings a successful appeal will yield, subtract your opinion of value from the noticed value. This number is the reduction to the value you believe you can secure. Multiply that number by the most current tax rate used in that county and you can estimate your tax savings following a successful protest. Is it enough for you to file the appeal and potentially go to an appraisal review board hearing? If so, file that appeal right away! Otherwise, maybe just keep one eye on the value in future years and file an appeal when the property does become significantly overvalued.
That’s all you need to do when deciding on filing a protest. Examine your market to see if an appeal can even be successful, and then review the tax savings of a successful appeal so as not to waste your time for nonconsequential savings. If you need any help deciding on the success probability of an appeal or calculating your savings, please contact one of our Texas multifamily specialists today.
Imagine you are traveling and you come to a fork in the road. Both routes eventually lead to your destination, which makes you wonder if it matters which route you take. So you ask yourself this question: Which route will get me to my destination in the fastest, most enjoyable way? If you are going to make the drive, you might as well enjoy it.
So it is with property valuation appeals. Whether you appeal it yourself, or you hire a property tax agent, the goal is to still settle with the Central Appraisal District (CAD) or have a hearing before the Appraisal Review Board (ARB). The destination may appear the same, but the journey and results can be very different.
Course 1: Doing it Yourself
When handling your own protests, it is common that there are many projects and important tasks that pull you in a million directions, because property taxes are usually only one of the hats you wear. They are easily put on the back burner for another day down the road, while more pressing sales tax issues or real estate deals are considered. Since property taxes on Texas multifamily are the number 1 or 2 expense item, it is clear that affecting that expense can have a tremendous benefit to your bottom line. Yet, it is still easy to be overwhelmed with all the specific deadlines and valuation evidence. Successfully appealing your valuation involves arguing valuation concepts and knowing the market. It involves studying comparable properties, documenting adjustments to their valuations, and attending meetings with the CAD or ARB. In the end, your simple appeal may take many more hours than you anticipated or wanted to give it.
Course 2: Hiring a Property Tax Professional
Hiring a property tax agent can alleviate most if not all of the above stress. An agent takes on the responsibility to ensure filing deadlines are met, evidence is gathered, and hearings are attended. Because agents focus on property valuations, they can give dedicated time to knowing your properties and aiming to secure you the best reduction. They are familiar with the laws and the markets. Following this course usually results in better outcomes for you, with a lot less time commitment and stress.
So How Long Will My Protest Take?
The ultimate answer depends on the course you choose. While both will typically last about the same number of calendar days, doing it yourself will involve substantially more time and commitment from you. If freeing up your time for other important projects, and potentially securing greater tax reductions is appealing to you, consider hiring a property tax professional to handle your appeals.
How Does Filing an Appeal Make a Difference on my Property Taxes?
Don’t assume that the Central Appraisal District is correct
What types of issues can be corrected by filing a protest?
One of the simplest reasons for filing a protest of your noticed value is to correct misinformation. This could be from incorrect building size, land size, construction quality, ownership, or other reasons. Additionally, contesting the noticed value can allow you to provide property-specific facts that are not accounted for in the mass appraisal valuation method, and thereby change your taxable value.
Is the system set up for me to fail?
Texas has a wonderful property tax system that is designed to ensure taxpayers are heard. Part of this process revolves around evidence supporting the noticed value. As a taxpayer, you need to prepare and bring your own evidence, but unlike most other states, the Appraisal District is not presumed to be correct at your hearing.
Under the Texas Tax Code §41.43(a) the Appraisal District bears the burden of proof to support their value. In other words, they need to prove why the value they set is accurate. This unique system is not set up for you to fail. Come with evidence supporting the correction you are seeking and present your case before the Appraisal Review Board.
How does any of this make a difference to me?
Your Texas property tax bill is determined from your taxable value multiplied by the tax rate. When you protest the noticed value and the result is a reduced valuation, your tax bill will be lower. Additionally, under Uniform and Equal provisions, others can be helped by your protest. Placing checks and balances on government taxation and overreach is a freedom we hold dear in this country. While we are subject to property taxes, filing an appeal of your valuation is one way you can exercise your freedom to ensure that you are not being overtaxed.
Here is an example of just what protesting your taxes can look like to you.
The noticed value was $2 million and after the taxpayer’s appeal the value was reduced to $1.5 million. The tax rate in the jurisdiction is 2.5%. The $500,000 reduction in the noticed value would reduce the taxpayer’s property tax bill $12,500.
Wayfinder offers taxpayer representation and assistance
If understanding and filing your own protest feels overwhelming and complicated, don’t worry. Wayfinder’s property tax experts offer personalized service to know your properties and help you achieve the lowest legal value for your property. We help liberate capital for our clients so they can do what they do best without stress.