More Companies Contesting Appraised Values Of Commercial Properties In Texas

The Harris County Appraisal District has seen increasing lawsuits in the last five years.


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An increasing number of companies that own commercial properties in Texas are protesting the values that county appraisers put on those properties.

In many cases they end up going to court and that has an impact on taxpayers.

Appraisal values are important because the property taxes homeowners pay are calculated based on them.

That also applies to owners of commercial properties.

The trend to protest these values is happening in several Texas counties, including Harris.

Kenric Ward has researched this topic for the non-profit reporting organization Texas Watchdog.

He says that, just in Harris County, the amounts in dispute over commercial property values are big.

"Forty two billion dollars is currently under suit by corporations," Ward told Houston Public Media's Houston Matters.

Jack Barnett, chief communications officer for the Harris County Appraisal District, HCAD, says they have seen a growing number of lawsuits over the value of commercial properties in the last five years.

That means an increase in the amount of money HCAD has to spend defending its valuations in court.

"Appraisal districts have to pay to defend themselves, obviously, and, whether they win or lose, the taxpayers still have to foot the bill for the litigation costs," Ward added.

Back in February, Sands Stiefer, who at the time was the chief appraiser at HCAD, told the Houston Chronicle he was spending 20 percent of his agency's budget on litigation costs.

As the Chronicle also recently reported, one of the biggest disputes in the greater Houston area involves ExxonMobil Corp.

The oil giant has filed a lawsuit contesting the 2015 appraised value of its campus near The Woodlands, which HCAD set at one billion dollars.

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