Home values keep on climbing in Travis County


Highlights

Robust job, population growth, coupled with low housing supply, push home values higher.

Deadline to protest appraised values is May 15.

On Friday, Travis County Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler will start sending out property value appraisal notices to Travis County homeowners – and the reaction from homeowners probably will be pretty familiar.

If you’re trying to sell your house, you’ll likely be pretty happy with your home’s new valuation.

If you are staying put and dreading a higher property tax bill, you probably won’t like what Crigler’s office tells you.

As has been the norm the past few years in booming Austin, both the median taxable and median market values for Travis County homes are both up by more than 9 percent, Crigler’s office said Thursday.

The median taxable home value – the amount used to determine your property tax bill — climbed 10.1 percent to $249,100 from $226,091 in 2017. The taxable value is the market value, after exemptions. Median means half of the houses in Travis County were valued at less than $249,100 and half were valued at more than that amount.

Meanwhile, the median market value – the amount your home potentially could sell for – rose 9.2 percent, to $318,740 from $291,852 last year for homes with a homestead exemption, according to Crigler’s office.

“The Austin region continues to thrive as it enters its ninth year of positive trends in its real estate and overall economy,” Crigler said in releasing the preliminary appraisal figures. “We’re still seeing daily net in-migration over 100 people per day, driven by strong job growth, and that’s a lot of demand for housing. And we have a very limited housing supply, and the imbalance between supply and demand continues to put upward pressure on housing prices.”

About 428,000 appraisal notices will be mailed starting Friday and continuing throughout next week, Crigler said. The county, cities, school districts and other local taxing entities will use the appraisal district’s valuations to set 2018 property taxes later this year.

Eldon Rude, a longtime housing industry expert, said he is not surprised “at the magnitude of the increase in taxable home values over last year.”

Rude said the “severe imbalance in the supply and demand for housing continues to result in sharp increases in home prices.”

Part of the gap is due to builders being unable to construct enough houses in the most sought-after price range — $200,000 to $300,000 — to satisfy demand, said Rude, principal of 360° Real Estate Analytics, an Austin-based consulting firm.

“Another factor leading to higher home values is tied to the sharp price increases builders have been experiencing in recent years for developed lots, building materials as well as labor,” Rude said. “Ultimately, these increased costs are passed on to homebuyers and play a role in higher taxable values.”

Rude said rising home values are almost always a double-edged sword for homeowners.

“On the one hand, their homes are worth more if they are looking to sell, but, on the other, they are likely looking at a higher tax bill,” Rude said.

An important change for property owners this year is that the Legislature bumped up the deadline to protest appraisals to May 15 this year from May 31.

Also, for homeowners who haven’t filed for a homestead exemption, Crigler said the appraisal district can grant one going back two years, which will cover people who became homeowners as of Jan. 1, 2016. About 60 percent of homeowners with a homestead exemption will benefit from a cap that limits appraised value increases to 10 percent over last year’s assessed value, Crigler said.

Because of its draw as a destination for migrating talent, Austin continues to see population growth of about 3 percent a year, putting additional pressure on the local housing markets already struggling with low housing inventory, Crigler said.

Last year, the supply of available housing in the Austin area remained at 2.1 months, on average, and well below the 6.5-month level experts say constitutes a market with supply and demand in balance; it marked the fifth consecutive year of a substantial imbalance between housing supply and demand, Crigler said.

The gap is felt even more sharply within Austin’s city limits, she said, where the supply is less than 1.5 months and the median home price climbed to an all‐time high of $360,000 in 2017, according to Crigler.

In the past year, Austin added 30,000 net new jobs, growth of 2.9 percent. And strong job growth, coupled with a low unemployment rate of 2.7 percent, helped make Austin the nation’s sixth-fastest-growing major metro, she said.

Austin has emerged as one of a handful of cities attractive to major tech companies, and the tech industry in general, for expansion, she said.

“Growth in the tech sector has led to increasing demand for Austin office space, and like the residential market, the office portfolio is now seeing the effect of a lack of supply,” Crigler said.

In addition to the median taxable and market values for Travis County homes, here’s how the appraisal roll breaks down for 2018:

• The average residential market value rose about 10.4 percent, to $444,767 from $403,001 last year.

• The average taxable value of homes rose 8.1 percent, to $330,669, up from $305,845.

• For all properties in Travis County — residential and commercial — the preliminary taxable value increased 16 percent, rising to $198 billion from $170 billion, led by commercial value increases of 19 percent.



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