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By Christopher Daugherty, Senior Manager | Anthony Young, Manager | September 29, 2020

Proper property tax management can be challenging in a good year, so what could owners possible be faced with in 2020 and 2021? Our Houston tax experts, Chris Daugherty and Anthony Young, have utilized their over 40 years of experience to show how to decrease the risk of your property being overtaxed in this economic climate. Daugherty and Young also discuss how the pandemic has affected property values and the appropriate course of action that property owners should take when fighting values and what to expect from your property taxes in 2021. 


Q. Houston and the surrounding areas are experiencing the pain of the pandemic alongside unique hardships in the oil industry. Then why are property owner receiving assessment notices not dissimilar from last year? 

A. If your property is under performing, whether it’s COVID-19 related or in general, your tax value should reflect similarly. However, in Texas, tax assessment values are calculated using a mass appraisal approach based on market conditions as of January 1 of that year. Mass appraisal values the entire county where market areas, neighborhoods, subdivisions, and large groupings of similar properties are appraised at one time by adopted standards. It feels like a very long time ago, but on January 1, 2020Houston was one of the hottest real estate markets in the countryThis is leading to tax assessments for most properties that grossly overstate the current value of the property. 


Q. How has Altus Group created tax savings for property owners during COVID-19?   

A. With COVID-19 impacting the bottom lines it is obvious that the mass appeal values are not capturing the hardship our property owners are enduringIn comparison, we use a fee appraisal approach, utilizing revenue and operating costs of property being valued. Even though tax values are determined as of January 1st, we have been able to drastically lower property values for our clients to help them burden the blow that Covid-19 has caused after that date. In Fort Bend County, we were able to assist a once performing retail shopping center suffering from rental and lease problems and created over $255,000 in tax savings. 


Q. How can property owners plan and prepare for 2021 property tax appeals? 

A. Be diligent about keeping financial records, stay organized and be prepared to take on a potentially bigger appeal process than the previous years. Speak to your consultant about your burdens and what is causing the most issues. A quality consultant knows what information is needed for the best appeal results and how to present cases to the local appraisal district. We recommend fighting your taxes every year, regardless if the value increased, decreased, or remained flat. There may be opportunities to reduce the value that is not known until you complete a full analysis of the case. 


Q. What are some of the tax trends that commercial real estate owners need to start preparing for before the next tax season hits?  

A. The “darlings” of the commercial real estate world, i.e. industrial/multifamily/storage, during Covid19 could be valued higher due to the need for tax dollars at the county and local government levels. Many school districts are in need of funding for their newly created virtual programs, as well as emergency response and flood control agency working throughout the storms crashing into the Texas coast. 


Q. Why is it especially important to have a proven tax consultant? 

A. Altus Group prides itself on the ability to protest with extensive knowledge of the property and in the best interest of the client. We provide our clients with a sense of security and reliability, knowing that we are in your corner, while making sure to protect the relationship between the property owner and county.  


Q. Who is Altus Group’s Real Property Tax Houston based team?   

A. We are a small but mighty team, comprised of seasoned professionals who have been working in Houston and the surrounding counties for years. The office is led by Christopher Daugherty and Anthony Youngwhom together have over 40 years of combined experience in both the property tax consulting industry and within the appraisal districtEach has worked with Harris and the surrounding counties for 20 years and have built the relationships and knowledge to handle every aspect of property tax. Morgan Atkinson, our newest addition to the team comes to Altus Group with over 6 years of experience building client relationships and strategic networking. Hopefully, when COVID-19 allows it, you will see her at different marketing/networking events around the city. 


Q. What makes Altus Group’s Real Property Tax services stand out?   

A. One thing that makes us stand out is that each consultant has a small case load. No one is overwhelmed with hundreds, even thousands of cases as we have seen at other firms. This allows us to spend time on each property, truly diving in with their clients to create tax management plans, projections, and consulting to create a concierge level of service. But more importantly, we are honest and transparent about realistic approaches and what to expect.  


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