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Government Tarrant County appraisals up 14 percent

Tarrant County appraisals up 14 percent

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A booming real estate market, led by skyrocketing home prices, has boosted Tarrant County’s 2016 total appraised property values by 14 percent, the amount predicted earlier this year by the chief county appraiser.

The Tarrant Appraisal District released its certified property tax valuations this week, showing appraised market value of $190.8 billion, according to Chief Appraiser Jeff Law.

Net values, the amount after exemptions, is $154.8 billion compared with $141,2 billion in the 2015 July report.

Cities, school districts and other taxing entities rely on the appraisal district’s property tax valuations to set their tax rates.

The $190.8 billion value released this week show a 12 percent increase over July 2015 values of $170.6 billion but 2015 value fluctuations though September last year boosted the increase to 14 percent from 2015 to 2016, Law said.

However, the increase, one of the highest in recent history, may not necessarily amount to a whopping increase in tax bills for property owners, particularly homeowners.

“Some cities and school districts have already announced their intentions to lower their tax rates to adjust for the higher values,” Law said.

The city of Fort Worth is among those planning an adjustment, Mayor Betsy Price has already announced.

The steep increase follows a modest increase of only 5 percent between 2014 and 2015 values.

Law said the increases are the result of a hot housing market, which continues to push prices upward due to demand.

Prices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were up 9 percent in May compared to a year ago, according the Standard & Poors/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. The national increase was 5 percent, according to the index.

Although the appraisal district struggled with software problems as it transitioned to a new system last year, the more meager 5 percent increase in property values a year ago was the result of lower sales prices and market values than the technology issues, Law said.

The appraisal district was unable to accurately appraise some property, resulting in a undervaluation compared to a state appraisals. The discrepancy could have jeopardized state funding to some school districts but a state-granted grace period provided a reprieve for the districts.

Tarrant County is among many in Dallas-Fort Worth area, including Dallas and Collin Counties, to see dramatic increases in property values this year, he said.

“It’s a reflection of how hot this real estate market is,” he said.

Percentage increases in tax values have varied from year to year, including decreasing in 2009 and 2010 due to the recession. Increases of 5 to 9 percent are average in a growing area like DFW, Law said.

“This year’s 14 percent is on the high side,” he said.

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