Monday, August 8, 2011

What is Wrong With the Victoria CAD, Volume 1

As many people know, I have been quite critical of the Victoria Central Appraisal District in recent years. I won't go into what got me started down that road, mostly because it is irrelevant. Let's just say the more I looked into what they were doing, the less I liked it.

Most people make two simple mistakes when they encounter criticism of appraisals. First, they take it personally. They think that if you point out their property or someone they know as being undervalued, then you are making it personal. This logic is no more sound than the person whose property is overvalued, taking it out on those whose properties are undervalued. Second, they don't grasp the idea that we are all in this thing together. Property values not being assessed properly harms everyone whose properties are assessed properly. If the taxing entities are not collecting the proper amount of tax on a particular property, then that disparity must be made up somewhere else. Sooner or later, your property could be that"somewhere else".

There are many things I could say about the Victoria CAD, but this blog is only going to touch on one simple thing. I plan on doing a series of blogs on this subject, as there is so much to say. The main problem with jamming too much information into one blog is that everything I say is fact, verified by hard figures. Any time people look at numbers, the law of diminishing returns tends to kick in rather quickly.

It has long been an assertion of mine (backed up by hundreds of hours of research) that working-class homes in Victoria are valued by the CAD at a much higher percentage of their actual values than the homes located in more affluent neighborhoods. Let me be clear about one thing. This is not a witch hunt, and I do not engage in class warfare. However, what's right is right, and what's wrong is wrong. I have no reason to point out that certain property owners should pay more in property taxes, but I can no longer sit back and watch the working middle class of Victoria get squeezed.

For this particular blog, I performed a simple experiment. I logged onto Woolson Real Estate's website and performed two separate searches. Their search engine allows you to search properties by entering a multitude of criteria. For my two searches, I set the minimum price at $100,000 and $300,000.

Then I took the top 10 properties from each search, and looked up their assessed valued on the CAD website. What I found further confirmed what I already knew. The more expensive the property, the lower percentage of actual value the assessments seem to be.

On average, the homes listed from $100,000 and up had assessed values at 90% of the list price, with the low being 67% and the high being 122%.

The homes with $300,000+ price tags were only assessed at 76% of their asking price, with the lowest being 54% and the highest being 96%.

Now, some may be wondering why this is so important. Consider this - if the more expensive homes were valued at the same percentage of the asking price of the $100,000 homes, the difference in taxable value would be $399,620. Think about it. That is an entire $400,000 home that is not being taxed at all. But here is the really interesting part - this is only for ten homes, that were found in succession on one website. No cherry-picking here.

Now extrapolate that over the entire neighborhoods of Country Club, Country Club Village, Woodway, Benchmark, Springwood, Kingwood Forest, etc. Think how much we could lower all of the tax rates if property were simply assessed correctly in Victoria County.


Edith Ann said...

Okey-dokey, then! I don't do numbers. I don't appraise houses. I am not a real estate agent. Please explain how an appraisal is performed, in simple terms. What data does the appraiser use? In other words, how did we get here.

Matt Ocker said...

That is the really interesting thing. When I first talked to Perry Perez a few years ago, he told me that he looks at the MLS listings. That is where they ascertain the sales price of a piece of property.
the funny thing is, they don't seem to look at the MLS listed of upper-end homes, because the assessments are never congruent with current sales.

Anonymous said...

Can you provide the values for each property used to obtain your figures?

Can you list which neighborhoods are working-class neighborhoods and which neighborhoods are affluent neighborhoods?

Matt Ocker said...

If you would like the property values, just follow the steps that I laid out in the blog. I used the first 10 Victoria County homes listed in both the $100,000+ and $300,000+ categories.

I get the feeling this comment is from one of my several internet stalkers, but I will go ahead and answer it anyway. I am sorry that you can't distinguish between the working class and the affluent, but I am happy to do it for you.

Working class neighborhoods
Greenway Park
Meadow Creek
Carriage Pointe

Affluent neighborhoods
Colony Creek
Country Club
Country Club Village
Kingwood Forest
Parts of downtown, mostly west of Moody

Pick away!

Anonymous said...

Perry Perez is still working for Victoria CAD? That little shit bird won't even return a phone call! The worse type of example of a bureaucrat, and why I detest, despise, and seek to austerity in all governmental departments beyond infrastucture.


Anonymous said...

My experience with the CAD. Generally, my properties have stayed within a certain comfort zone. As a property has gotten a little too out of whack, I have visited with the CAD reps and worked one on one and pulled it back down to the comfort zone. Never a problem with Perry Perez. I have worked with him twice in the last four years.

The best time to "visit" two weeks before and after the appraisal goes out.

My thought about CAD, it is not the CAD that screws me, it is the idiot voters who keeps re-electing the same idiot "leaders". Sorry Matt.

The problem is idiot homeowners and the stupider elected officials who can not read a financial report and takes the word of the bureaucrat he oversees.

Matt Ocker said...

You will get no quarrel from me on that. The CAD is definitely not responsible for government spending. What I was attempting to illuminate in this blog is how the assessments are unfair. You are absolutely correct that increasing taxes are the fault of elected officials. However, I do see the CAD as an enabler. By continually raising assessments by fiat, they are allowing the elected officials to deceive the public by convincing them that the tax rate is all that matters.

Bighorn, I think Perez still works there. He can be a testy cuss. His excuses are pretty darn pathetic when you try to discuss your assessment with him.

Anonymous said...

OK. "Perry, my rate on this building is a little high. Here is the purchase papers. Here is the neighborhood assessment and photos of similiar homes in the neighborhood. The average price per square feet is $x. So lets moove this property down to $x." "Thats ok." Perry is not that bad. The problem... Gary Burns and his ilks who continue to get re-elected.

Anonymous said...

Twice I went in with an armload of information to fight a major increase of my appraisal a few years ago.

Square footage, sales prices, appraisal values of similar homes in other neighborhoods.

Resulted in a waste of my time.

At that time I was paying more for my 1,300 sq. ft. home than some did for homes nearly twice as big with bigger lots in nicer areas.

Dale said...

Two years later. The Council is in a 3-3 with one moderate vote. The Good Old Boys must capture all four Victoria CC contested raced to maintain control. The Rebels have the Good Old Boys on the Ropes. The populace is restless. And Matt Ocker swags to the Coucil podium. The audience is restless. The Good Old Boys are ready to engage. And Matt leads with a low blow. The Red Rooster is immediately disengaged. Will is speechless. And Tom is ready to blow a gasket. Great soapbox lead in for the Rebel Team. And now ol Matt, the voters can complete the process. Do not forget to vote and Remember the Porking Lot! Remember UHV Lobbyists! Remember Friends Helping Friends. And Vote Pruitt and Soliz for real change!

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