This one is a little more difficult for us to write. It is very easy to share all of the success stories, but when sharing a negative one, it just gets more difficult. There’s a purpose to it, though.
I write this out of frustration and anger…and sadness.
First of all, let me be clear. There’s some great people at HCAD. The good majority of them work hard, play hard, and are fair. Like anywhere though, there are some bad apples. It sure is easier to talk about those than the good ones, huh?
We had a new client attend his hearing last week. He attended his informal hearing. He called this morning and I spoke to him. He said he accepted a “no change”. I asked if this was his informal hearing or his formal hearing and he responded “informal”. He said he was tired of Texas, tired of taxes, and tired of systems. I asked why he accepted a “no change” at his informal hearing and he said “the appraiser said that if I didn’t accept this no change, my value would be raised to 199,000 instead of the noticed value of 190,000.” He then went on to say “I do not get it. I have 5 recent sales that you guys have given me, and almost all are identical to my home. I also have 10 comps for the Unequal analysis, and again, they were all just like my home. How could he raise me?”
“He can’t!” I said, and at the formal hearing they could, but only if your home was purchased this year for a price above the noticed value, or if new property had since been discovered. Those are the only two ways”.
So what happened, you ask? He was fed a lie by an appraiser named Aubrey. I am undecided whether to release his last name or not. He was lied to, intimidated, and threatened by our government. Unreal, and flat out wrong. The proper course of action is to decline a settlement and head to the formal hearing (ARB) where they must follow legal guidelines, and where it is recorded on video. At the informal hearing, it is not. Nothing is binding the appraisers there, and this example shows just how cruel and unjust they can be. I know the supervisors at HCAD try to educate the young and inexperienced appraisers, but they cannot watch them every step of the way. HCAD tries to make sure things like this don’t happen, but they still do.
Several times have we wanted to represent some of you, and each one of those times has come when at the informal hearing the appraisers have flat out lied to you. Our success has been great, but we measure ourselves by our failures. One is too many, but we can understand a rejection if the rejection was on solid standing, not on a lie.
We’ll publish successes most certainly, but we wanted to share this one with you just so you know what you can be up against occasionally. This is why the formal hearing can be so crucial, because there are guidelines in place to give legitimacy to that part of the appeal process. The formal meeting isn’t perfect, but it is so much better than the informal one.
Do not be lied to or taken advantage of. What we found so ironic was that this hearing follows by a month or two an article released by The Chronicle where they stated that home owners are given more frequent and larger reductions than agencies. That might be true, but goodness if they don’t want to deceive you.