Low Mortgage Rates on VA Loans in Texas!

Want to learn more about historically low mortgage rates for Texas Veterans in Austin, Texas and other cities across Texas?

The Texas Veteran’s Land Board (VLB) hosts free “come and go” fairs across Texas to let veterans know about the resources and programs that are available to them for the VA loans in Texas program.  VLB staff and other representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Texas Veterans Commission will be on hand to provide information on home loans in Texas and other information about disability and pension claims, land and home improvement loans, state veterans homes and cemeteries. For more information about these VLB events, please go to: www.glo.texas.gov/vlb/veterans-benefits-fairs/

These events are located in Austin, Amarillo, Waco, Corpus Christi, Tomball, Dallas, Big Spring, Fort Worth, San Antonio. For more information on Home Loans for Texas Veterans, Please call Todd Kurio at 512-459-2405 –Residential Mortgage Loan Originator, Capstar Lending, NMLS #216616/#214411, e: todd.kurio@capstarlending.com.

What Are Jumbo Loans and What Will They Cost Me?

A jumbo loan (otherwise known as non-conforming) is a loan where the loan amount exceeds the Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac limit.

In Texas, the conforming loan limit is $417,000. In higher cost areas like California, the conforming loan limit is as high as $729,750. Jumbo loan rates in Texas are now lower than the loan rates for conforming loan amounts($417,000).

In the past, jumbo rates were about .50% higher than a conforming loan amount. In my 22 years as a mortgage loan originator, I have never seen the jumbo rates the same or lower than conforming loans. The main reason jumbo rates are so low is because lenders that buy and service these loans want to attract wealthy clients and cross sell them other financial products (like brokerage services) where they can collect ongoing fees.

Given the strict underwriting requirements with all mortgages, especially jumbo loans- borrowers are having to open up their entire financial position in order to qualify and lenders can see what other opportunities there are for opening a brokerage account, life insurance, etc. Also, since the borrowers are taking out a low fixed rate loan, the borrowers are likely to keep their mortgage and won’t be refinancing anytime soon. The affluent client will stay as a bank’s customer for a long time.

Jumbo loans have also become cheaper on a relative basis to conforming loans in part from additional government regulation. The Federal Housing Finance Agency(FHFA), which regulates Fannie and Freddie, has forced lenders to keep additional reserves for potential mortgage defaults on conforming loans. They have increased reserves by charging guarantee fees (GFees) to lenders which increase rates on conforming loans. Since Fannie and Freddie don’t participate in the jumbo loan market, those guarantee fees don’t apply on jumbo loans and therefore are not passed on to borrowers who borrow more than $417,000.

In Austin, Texas, you can still obtain financing with as little as $32,450 down up to a sales price of $649,000. These loans also don’t require private mortgage insurance. You can obtain financing with a minimum down payment of $90,700 on a sales price of $907,000 without mortgage insurance.

We can help you with a purchase or refinance of a jumbo loan in a timely and professional manner. Please call Todd Kurio, Residential Mortgage Loan Originator, at 512 459 2405 or email at todd.kurio@capstarlending.com. Capstar Lending, NMLS #216616

The Two Types Of Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

When looking into financing, most borrowers want to avoid paying private mortgage insurance.  Private Mortgage Insurance(PMI) is generally required on conventional loans when the loan amount is greater than 80% loan to value (meaning you have less than 20% equity in the house). The two types of mortgage insurance are Borrower Paid (BPMI) and Lender Paid (LPMI).  Lets take a look at each.

Borrower Paid or BPMI

The lender charges a yearly premium paid out in your monthly payments.  The average BPMI is .21 and 1.15%, depending on how much you put down and what your credit score is.  BPMI can be cancelled by law.  Once the balance reaches 78%, the lender is required to cancel BPMI.  There are other options to cancel the the PMI at 80% loan to value.

Lender Paid or LPMI

Includes the cost of the insurance in the form of a higher rate. In exchange for covering the PMI, the lender charges you a slightly higher rate for the life of loan. It normally results in a lower monthly mortgage payment than BPMI. This type of mortgage insurance can’t be cancelled.   The LPMI is usually an attractive option if you are likely to move or refinance within 7-10 years. LPMI may have tax benefits compared to borrower paid monthly which is no longer tax deductible(for tax advice, please consult a tax professional). Borrowers can generally purchase 5% more house with LPMI than with BPMI for the same monthly payment.

Keep in mind, these types of insurance should not be confused with insurance that pays off your mortgage upon death, or homeowners insurance, which protects you from losses due to such events as wind, fire, damage,etc.  This type of mortgage insurance only protects the lender in case of default (non payment of the loan).  Even though the borrower/buyer pays for this type of mortgage insurance- it does not protect the borrower- it protects the lender.

However,there are ways to avoid the monthly mortgage insurance cost. In addition to doing a “piggyback” loan where you get a first and second loan to avoid the mortgage insurance, you can also avoid monthly mortgage insurance costs by obtaining Lender Paid Mortgage Insurance, one of the two types of mortgage insurance we discussed above.

For more information on ways to avoid mortgage insurance and lower your monthly mortgage payment- please contact Todd Kurio, Residential Mortgage Loan Originator, todd.kurio@capstarlending.com, 512 459 2405 NMLS#216616

MCC Program – Texas Mortgage Credit Certificate Program

As you may have noticed, we’ve been blogging a lot lately about mortgage assistance programs that are offered through state housing agencies in Texas. Today, we’d like to introduce you to the Texas Mortgage Credit Certificate Program also known as “MCC Program.”

The MCC Program is a great opportunity for first time home buyers and low to moderate income individuals and families who who wish to buy a home. If you think you may qualify for the MCC Program, don’t hesitate to call us. For now, let’s learn more about this opportunity. Many lenders don’t take the time and effort to participate in these worthwhile programs but we do!

What Exactly Is The MCC Program?

One of the many advantages of home ownership is the fact that the interest you pay is tax deductible. All homebuyers, regardless of income, may take advantage of this mortgage interest deduction feature. If you file itemized returns (which most home owners do) than you can include any interest you pay towards your mortgage (with certain restrictions) in your total itemized deductions. Having an MCC Certificate issued is like “turbo charging” your tax advantage. This occurs because the Texas Mortgage Credit Certificate allows the homebuyer to claim a tax credit against their federal income tax liability for as long as they occupy the home and pay interest.

There is a big difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction. With a tax credit you get to reduce your tax liability on a dollar-for-dollar basis. For example, if your overall tax liability is $5,000 and you have the maximum MCC credit of $2,000 than your total tax bill is reduced to $3,000.

Who Is Eligible For The MCC Program?

Eligibility for the issuance of an MCC is open to individuals and families who meet income and home purchase requirements below:

  • have not owned a home as primary residence in the past three (3) years;
  • meet the qualifying requirements (including income limitations) of the mortgage loan;
  • will use the home as their principal/primary residence. As long as you occupy the property as your primary residence the MCC tax credit will be available to you. You must file IRS Form 8396 with your federal income tax return. The form can be obtained from the IRS web site at www.irs.gov.
  • used primarily in conjunction with the purchase of a home. An MCC Certificate can only be issued on a new refinance if there was an MCC Certificate issued on the original loan.
  • Homebuyer Education required – the homebuyer must complete a Homebuyer Education course prior to loan closing. There are courses that you can attend in your area that your lender can direct you to, or you may complete the course online. Either way, a certificate showing the completion of an approved homebuyer education course is required to close the loan.

There may be other requirements and restrictions, so speak with your qualified lender to determine these.

The MCC program can be used with all types of mortgages. So whether your loan is conventional, FHA or VA the MCC credit is available to go along with it.

Finally, I do want to point out that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has designated certain areas as “Targeted Census Tracts.” If you purchase a home in these areas, you do not have to be a first-time homebuyer and income and sales price limits are higher. In addition, there is a potential waiver of the first-time homebuyer requirement for eligible Veterans.

Please see your lending professional for further information on these exceptions.

Other restrictions apply and vary by the state, city or county that administers the program.

How Much Of An MCC Program Tax Credit Can You Receive?

The total tax credit depends on the size of the loan and the interest rate you are paying but the tax credit you receive will be 40% of the annual interest paid. In no case can the tax credit exceed $2,000 per year. However, if you have a credit that exceeds your tax liability for the year you may be able to carry it forward for use in the subsequent years.

Finally, the remainder of the mortgage interest not taken as a tax credit will continue to qualify as an itemized tax deduction. How you decide to take advantage of this savings depends on how you file your taxes. You may choose to take a tax credit or a mortgage interest deduction. Your lender and/or financial adviser will be able to advise you based on your goals and individual tax situation.

MCC Program Fees?

As with any mortgage product there are regular closing costs that are associated with closing your loan. The In addition, there will be an MCC Issuance or Participation Fee of 1% of the total loan amount. Going back to our previous example of a $150,000 loan – you will pay a $1,500 MCC Issuance fee to have the MCC issued. Again, actual amounts will vary depending on your loan size, but the additional MCC fee will be 1% of the loan.

Potential Recapture Tax Due

The MCC program is funded with proceeds from tax exempt Mortgage Revenue Bonds. Since this is a federally subsidized program, you may be subject to a Recapture Tax. The Recapture Tax calculations can be very confusing and the determination of whether you are subject to any Recapture Tax can only be made at the time of sale of your property. Your lender will provide you with a disclosure that will explain the rules for the Recapture Tax.

Please note there are some exceptions provided that result in no tax due. In general, if you sell your home within the first nine years and your income has gone up substantially than you may be subject to this additional tax. General information on Recapture Tax can be found in Section 143(m) of the IRS Code, or by logging on to www.irs.gov.

I hope this has been a helpful recap of the Mortgage Credit Certificate program.

Capstar offers this program through various agencies including the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), Southeast Texas Housing (SETH) and Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation (TSAHC). Tweet this

If you or someone you know might benefit from this program than please email michael.scott@capstarlending.com or call 512-459-2419 for more details. NMLS#216603

The 5 Types Of People Who Qualify For FHA Loans in Texas

Are you one of the lucky 5 types of people who will qualify for an FHA loan? Keep reading to see if you may qualify for an FHA Loan in Texas.

FHA stands for the “Federal Housing Administration” and is a part of HUD, the Federal Government’s “Housing and Urban Development” department. This branch of government insures loans so lenders can offer better rates on mortgage financing. It also comes with some great options for those who need some extra financial help like a low down payment, lower closing costs and easier credit qualifications.

1. First Time Home Buyers

First Time Home buyers love the FHA loan because it allows them to put down a smaller down payment, as little as 3.5% and the seller can pay your closing costs and prepaid fees. Let’s face it, most young people today are struggling with student loan debt and a sluggish economy. Any opportunity to part with less cash is one to be considered! If you already have a property in mind, you should check with your loan officer to see if your desired property would qualify under the program, but typically the maximum number of units the property can have is 4(fourplex).

2. The “Do It Yourself-er”

Do you like to work on home repairs and remodeling?Think you can handle a fixer-upper? If you want to completely customize a home, then an FHA Loan can help you by rolling the total cost of the remodel or repairs into one loan. You can also refinance the cost of the repairs or remodel into a new FHA loan. This type of loan is called a “203k.”

3. The Senior Citizen

There has been a lot of  talk about reverse mortgages lately. The FHA website has a great fact sheet for further reading on requirements here. The basic qualifications are that you must be at least 62 years old, own your home outright or have a very low balance. If this sounds like you, follow the link above to learn more about qualifying and turning your home equity into cash you can use to meet monthly expenses.

4. The Eco-Conscious

Are you worried about wasting energy and would like to make energy improvements?There’s an FHA mortgage for that! Check out the FHA Energy-Efficient Mortgage. This relatively recent (1995) program helps homeowners by enabling them to finance the cost of adding energy efficiency features to new or existing housing as part of their FHA insured home purchase or refinancing mortgage. For more information go to the energy efficient mortgage description on the HUD website.

5. The Mobile Home Owner

There are two types of loans for those who wish to purchase a mobile home or a factory built house. There is one type of loan for people who already own the land that the home is on and another for mobile homes that are or will be located in a mobile home park. You can read HUD’s most recent newsletter titled: The FACTs: HUD’s ManuFACTured Housing Newsletter here.

 

I hope this cleared up questions about qualifying for an FHA loan. If you feel like you may be one of the lucky types of people who will qualify for an FHA Loan in Texas. Don’t wait call or email today!

Capstar Lending does not currently offer all of the loan programs described above but please contact Todd.Kurio@capstarlending.com or call 512-459-2405 for more details. NMLS#216616 Residential Mortgage Loan Originator

Citation: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/buying/loans

 

VA Home Loans : A Slideshare Presentation

I recently shared on social media that the VA Home Loans program is hugely underused. This is partially because the program, which was created in 1944, isn’t promoted as much as it should be. Out of the 16.4 million active service members and military veterans with mortgages, only 12% have a loan guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many Vets simply don’t know about the program and many loan officers don’t think to ask their clients if they’re service members!

I would like to help Vets, and especially Texas Vets, to better understand what they need to know to qualify for VA home loans Texas, as well as their eligibility requirements, limits and the advantages of the program. Take a minute to check out the Slideshare presentation I created that address all these things as well as provide you some resources to start the application process.

 

I hope you enjoyed the presentation and would trust me to serve your VA loan. Please contact me at (512) 459 -2405 or at Todd.Kurio@capstarlending.com today so I can answer your questions and get started.

Home Loans For Teachers: Texas Heros and Home Sweet Texas Home Loan Programs

Capstar Lending participates in the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation’s Homes for Texas Heroes and Home Sweet Texas Home Loan Programs. Capstar Lending is one of the program’s approved lenders and we’d like to help even more families achieve their dream of homeownership this year.

Who Is Eligible For The Program:

“Texas heros” are great people like teachers, correction officers, EMS workers and firefighters. For the full list of who is eligible, see here. We have received a lot of questions as to what kind of “teachers” are eligible for the program.  The answers may surprise you since the program is very inclusive to those working in Education. You will qualify for the program if you are a “Professional Educator.” This means a full-time, public classroom teacher, teacher aide, school librarian, school counselor certified under Subchapter B, Chapter 21, Education Code, or school nurse. “ (source: http://www.tsahc.org/) If you are uncertain about your eligibility the TSAHC website has an “Official Records” search, where you can look up an educators status by typing in their name which will bring up certification records, if any. You can find that search form here. There are other eligibility requirements and many of your questions can be answered on the TSAHC website. If anything remains unclear feel free to contact Todd Kurio directly at 512-459-2405 or by email.

What The Program Has To Offer

The benefits of the program are as follows: -A 30-year fixed interest rate FHA, VA or USDA mortgage loan -Down payment and closing cost assistance of up to 5% of the loan amount -Down payment assistance is a grant and never needs to be repaid -Available for the purchase of a home or refinance of an existing loan -You do not need to be a first-time homebuyer – See more at: http://www.tsahc.org/homeownership/loans-down-payment-assistance

Where Do I Have To Live To Participate and What Do I Need To Apply?

To participate in the program, you can be located anywhere in Texas, although the income limits will vary by county. Here is a list of income and purchase price limits by county. Beyond these limits the program does not limit you to certain areas or to TSAHC-specific homes. You may choose where you would like to live and the home you would like to purchase. In order to apply, you will first need to attend a homebuyer education course which will teach you about the process of buying a home. It will arm you with knowledge and help you avoid any potential pitfalls. After you attend an education course, you should contact an approved lender to get the process started. Remember Todd Kurio at Capstar Lending is an approved lender. Upon contacting him, you will be guided through the process of eligibility, requirements and necessary paperwork.  You will not need to submit an application through TSAHC, Todd and his team will take care of that for you. Don’t hesitate to call with questions if you are unsure.

Don’t waste another dollar on rent! Take the first step in making your dreams come true by contacting Todd today!  Residential Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS #216616/214411

The 4 Best Mortgage Assistance Programs Available in Texas

Getting approved for a mortgage loan is one of the first steps in buying a home. But for people with past credit problems, income limitations, or other economic hardships, getting a mortgage through traditional routes can be difficult or impossible. This is where mortgage assistance programs can help.

You may have noticed that I have been promoting our mortgage assistance programs more than ever. There are a number of programs available to help everyday people obtain mortgages – programs like Zero Down VA Loans, Zero Down USDA Loans, programs through the Texas Veterans Housing Assistance Program, bond programs such as SETH, and programs through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. It’s just a matter of figuring out which ones you qualify for and letting us help you get the process started.

Below are the some of the best mortgage assistance programs available for home buyers in Texas.

VA Loans

Most veterans are eligible for a VA assistance, which provides low cost financing and other programs to help veterans build or purchase a home with little to no down payment. VA loans are offered by private lenders but a portion of the loan is guaranteed by the Veterans Administration. This means the lender can offer better terms on the mortgage note, and veterans who otherwise wouldn’t have had enough cash to purchase a home can now obtain financing.

The types of VA assistance available include:

  • Purchase Loan – for building or purchasing a home. No down payment or private mortgage insurance is required.
  • Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) – to refinance an existing VA home loan.

Eligibility for VA assistance depends on your military service, credit score, income, and possession of a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Please call me at 512-459-2405 to learn more.

FHA Home Loans

The FHA home loan program is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This program has more flexible debt to income ratios and lower minimum credit scores. It is a perfect resource for first time home buyers who have very little savings, who have had credit problems in the past, or who want to save the extra cash to fix up the home they are purchasing.

FHA loans are offered by private lenders but are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, enabling the lender to offer a better deal that includes:

Low down payments – as low as 3.5% of the purchase price.
Little to no closing costs with seller paid closing costs or lender paid options

There is also additional assistance for first time home buyers available through SETH. Read on to learn more.

Mortgage Grants – Southeast Texas Housing Bond (SETH)

The SETH Single Family Bond Program offers down payment assistance, closing cost assistance, grants, and fixed-rate mortgage financing for buyers in select Texas counties who have a maximum household income of $88,205 (although this amount varies by location).

SETH Program works as follows to help first-time homebuyers purchase a home:

SETH 5 Star Texas Advantage Program – provides a grant of up to 5% of the cost of the home. Repayment of the grant money is not required. Applicants do not need to be a first time home buyer, and the funds may be used for mortgages with fixed 30 year rates. The program is available everywhere in Texas except for El Paso, Grand Prairie, and McKinney.

MCC Program – Texas Mortgage Credit Certificate Program

This program allows buyers to claim a tax credit of up to $2000 for a portion of their mortgage interest payments. The credit can be claimed every year for the life of the loan and helps reduce overall federal tax liability.

To qualify for this program, buyers must:

  • Qualify for a mortgage loan through a lender
  • Have not owned a home in the past three years
  • Meet certain income requirements
  • Agree to make the home their primary residence

All types of mortgages (including VA, FHA, and conventional loans) are eligible for the program. It can be used for new construction or existing dwellings, including single family homes, townhomes and condominiums.. Buyers utilizing this program must complete a pre-purchase homebuyer education course and pay an issuance fee at closing.

If you think you might qualify for one of these programs, don’t hesitate, call me today!
I have a 5-star google rating in customer satisfaction and have the experience servicing all these types of loans . I would like to help you achieve your dream of homeownership.

Please contact Todd Kurio, Residential Mortgage Loan Originator at 512-459-2405 to get started today!

VA Loans Texas: What You Need To Know Now

va loans
The Veterans Administration provides low cost financing options for veterans looking to buy or build a home. If you are looking to better understand VA loans Texas, how they work, and who is eligible, read on to learn more about this special mortgage program for veterans.

What is a VA Loan?

A VA loan is a special home loan for military service members and military veterans. Veterans must secure a VA loan through a traditional lender, however a portion of the VA loan is guaranteed by the Veterans Administration. So these loans are different from typical mortgage notes.

VA loans can be used to:

  • Buy a home
  • Build a home
  • Refinance an existing VA mortgage

VA loans used to build or buy a home are called Purchase Loans. Veterans who already have a VA loan on an existing home and wish to refinance can apply for an Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL). A Purchase Loan is generally intended to be used once, however some veterans who do not use the full amount they were eligible for can put the remaining amount towards the purchase of a future home.

What are the advantages of a VA loan?

Because the Veterans Administration guarantees a portion of the loan, the lender can offer better loan terms to the customer. These loans allows families to purchase a home:

  • With little or no down payment
  • Without having to purchase private mortgage insurance
  • With a competitive interest rate and favorable loan terms

The VA loan allows veterans to shorten the time of paying costly rent since they don’t have to save for the  down payment (traditionally 20 percent of the purchase price, although sometimes as low as 3 to 5 percent), and therefore cannot qualify or delays the ability to qualify for a traditional mortgage.

Who is eligible for a VA loan?

Most veterans (and some surviving spouses) are eligible for a VA loan. Veterans must meet one of the following criteria for military service, or they must be a surviving spouse of a service member killed in the line of duty:

  • 181 days of peacetime active duty service
  • 91 days of wartime active duty service
  • 6 years of reserves or national guard service

VA loan applicants must also provide evidence of a good credit score, sufficient income for the purchase price of the home, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE) showing their qualifying military service. We obtain this certificate for you during the application process. We now have even more information regarding VA loan eligibility on our website.

Are there any limits on the VA loan amount?

Yes, and these limits are based on median home values as estimated by the Federal Housing Administration.

In Texas, a veteran with full entitlement may borrow up to $417,000 without a down payment. To increase this amount, the veteran would need to pay a percentage (25%) of the difference between the sales price and $417,000. This amount would be considered a down payment on the home, and is usually significantly smaller than a traditional down payment.

I can help you through the entire process.  Contact me today at todd.kurio@capstarlending.com or call me directly at 512-459-2405.  NMLS#216616

I look forward to assisting you purchase or refinance your home!

Protesting County Property Tax Values

How To Protest Property Taxes

Are you one of everybody in Travis County who received a notice this week that your home’s appraised value is higher than last year? I usually protest appraised value on at least one of my properties every year, and I’m generally successful. The steps included in how to protest property taxes are:

  1. As quickly as you can, send in the form on the back of the notice to protest the property taxes. There is a deadline, you don’t want to miss your opportunity. If you request a protest, you don’t have to follow through with it if for some reason you change your mind.
  2. If you purchased your home in 2013 and it appraised higher than the price you paid, make a note of this. With a copy of the settlement statement, they’ll usually simply lower it to the price you paid. You are not obligated to provide them with any information, so if the appraised value is lower than the sales price it is a good time to stay quiet.
  3. When sending in the protest form, make sure to request the data the county appraisal district used to assess your home. They are required to provide it if you ask for it.
  4. After a long time, the county will reply with a notice of a date for an informal protest and a formal protest. They will also include a packet with their details about your home as well as a spreadsheet of the comparison homes they used to arrive at their data.
  5. Make sure the data they have for your home is accurate. I’ve had properties where the square footage in the county records was larger than the actual square footage. Simply showing the square footage calculations from the appraisal lowered the appraised value not only for that year, but going forward. Other inaccuracies might include the condition of the property or structures that are no longer there. This also can go the other way, which you may not want to bring the assessor’s attention with a protest.
  6. Make sure the properties they are using for comparison are actually similar to your property. The comps should be of the same type and within the same neighborhood. I’ve had single family houses incorrectly compared to commercial property, much larger properties, duplexes and properties in other non-comparable neighborhoods.
  7. Find properties that are more comparable and support a lower value. The best data is closed MLS listings from your immediate neighborhood. Most real estate agents are more than happy to help with locating these. Of course, these listings must support a lower value. It is very possible that the values in your neighborhood have gone up and the tax assessor is correct.
  8. Make notes of all items with your property that may negatively affect your home’s value compared to any higher valued properties, especially items that won’t show up on their spreadsheet. For example, do the comparable properties have similar-sized lots but your lot has a portion that is not buildable due to a flood plain, terrain or irregular shape? Is your lot on a busy road, adjacent to commercial buildings? Does it lack the view that other nearby properties might have? Have the comparable properties been updated and remodeled or expanded while your house has not?
  9. By state law, the value the appraisal district is considering is as of January 1 of this year, so what is important is the condition of the property at that time. Comparable properties from the previous year can be used.
  10. Attend the informal hearing with data, and reschedule it if the time they assigned you doesn’t work. This hearing is a meeting with a county appraiser in his or her cubicle. Usually there will be an unhappy property owner with no data ranting at the appraiser in the adjacent cubicle. That approach will not be successful, and the appraiser will be happy to have someone in front of them not doing that. Show the appraiser everything to support your claims. He or she will want copies of anything that they use to update your file. Photographs are helpful, as are documentation of closed sales and maps. I have found the county appraisers very reasonable when they have data to review. However, they will never take your word for it that you think your house isn’t worth that much and they should just lower that value right now.
  11. If you are not successful and still feel you have a good case and good data, you can move on to the formal protest. This is a hearing with a county appraiser on one side and you on the other. Three paid, citizen appointees listen to documentation from both sides and vote on an outcome. I’ve had three formal hearings. Two were successful, with the appointees asking relevant questions of both sides and considering the documentation. The third was unsuccessful and featured one of the appointees who couldn’t do simple math and one who fell asleep during the hearing.

It doesn’t cost anything other than time to protest, and a successful protest may lower your taxes this year and in future years if there is incorrect information in the county records. If you do not want to spend the time to protest, there are services that will protest your taxes and their fee is a portion of the savings. My opinion is generally that you know your neighborhood and property better than anyone else, and generally you will make your own best advocate. Good luck, Adam Stephens NMLS 216606