'Tax people out of their homes': Rise in property value impacts Mission homeowners

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Every year, appraisal districts around the state take a look at how much a property is worth. That number usually increases—and more value means more property taxes.

For Gil Vazquez, his home's value jumped more than 15 percent.

"If they continue on this trajectory over the next two to three appraisals, my property taxes are going to be equal to my mortgage,” Vasquez said. “They're literally going to tax people out of their homes."

By state law, appraisal districts have to appraise homes every year.

"It's based on what is this property worth - and the property is worth basically on what the market is bringing in on similar properties,” said Hidalgo County Appraisal District Asst. Chief Appraiser Jorge Gonzalez.

Currently, the real estate market is considered a sellers’ market, with bidding wars over low inventory driving up sales prices.

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But Mary Alshomaly thinks the way appraisal districts compare homes is flawed. She says her home's value went up dramatically compared to a slightly smaller house.

"That 73 sq. ft., he adjusted that house by $10,000,” said Alshomaly, a 4-year Hidalgo County resident.

Improvements like fixing a roof can raise property value, too.

"Basically you're helping maintain the integrity of the property, which is tied into when somebody wants to sell the house,” Gonzalez said. “They're going to look at a house and say, ‘A 20-year old roof or a 1-year old roof, which one has more value?’"

Even if it's to fix damage from severe weather events like the Rio Grande Valley experienced last week and over the weekend.

"It's like we're penalized for trying to fix our homes,” Alshomaly continued. “So what do we do? We just like live in a damaged home so we don't have to pay more on top of the fact that we're paying to fix the home?"

Gonzalez says Hidalgo County homeowners can protest an appraisal. But for some, the process is unclear. That's why Vazquez and his neighbors got together to figure it out.

"Let’s talk about this. Let's talk about each other’s experiences—what sort of numbers we're looking at and how can we best approach this?" Vasquez said.

The deadline to file a protest is Monday. But Vasquez is encouraging neighborhoods to protest now - and work together later.

"You can still get together and formulate your data between now and the time they set your hearing," Vasquez said.

For more information, visit hidalgoad.org.


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