Stephen's Investigation

Blowing the lid off unfair property taxes

As a lifelong resident of Dallas and the park cities I was dreading property taxes as much as all of my neighbors.

The facts are clear, home prices in Dallas and our communities have skyrocketed. The medium home price in Highland Park is now around $1.6 million, a 33% increase from 2012 when the median was $1.2 million.

Using the current tax rate, a resident with a home near the medium would pay almost $10,000 more in property taxes than they did four years ago due to the higher appraised value. University Park has seen a similar increase, with the medium home value rising from $1 million to $1.4.

"So I protested and what I found out was shocking."

Dallas County Appraisal District, (DCAD) has arbitrarily added additional "viewing fees", "creek access", and other hidden fees. It was like I was opening my phone or cable bill. I foolishly believed all properties are equal - wrong!

I was amazed to find out that I was one of the unlucky ones. One of 34% of all residents who have an unobstructed view of Dallas Country Club, who since 2007 have been charged a "viewing fee".

My parents bought my home in 1977 and it's been in our family from day one. The view did not improve overlooking Mockingbird yet in 2007 the DCAD decided to add a surcharge of 10%. I guess I should feel lucky as some of my neighbors are being charged anywhere from a 5% surcharge to 50%. I was shocked to find out my father had enlisted the services of a tax professional to fight his property taxes since 2002 but they never looked deep enough to see why the added fees.

"After extensive research on thousands of homes in Park Cities as well Preston Hollow I found that not all tax appraisals are created equal."

For example, if you live in a flood zone (access to Hackberry Creek / better known as Turtle Creek) you can argue that the creek is a liability not a luxury.

Mockingbird Lane does not qualify as a "busy street" yet Preston Road, Hillcrest Ave, and MacFarlin Ave are considered "busy" so those homeowners are given a discount.

An odd shaped lot is a discount? If you live on more than one acre you pay a 25% discount.

How do you explain why living in the Volk Estates in University Park, on a flood zone, would entitle an estate owner to pay a blended rate of $68 a sq foot. While his neighbor across the street, who is unfortunately not on an acre plus property, and not aware that his property is being charged a creek access fee, pays more than twice per square foot than his estate-owning neighbor.

The appraisal district benefits because 95% of the tax paying public practices the "close my eyes and just pay the bill" program. This is because they don't know how to obtain their tax information and how to protest.

"How does the owner of the Dallas Cowboys pay 35% less on his property tax bill than the owners of houses that face his property overlooking Lakeside Dr?"

My goal with Sentry is to provide the residents of the Park Cities and Preston Hollow with property tax advice or appraisal assistance at no cost or obligation.

I believe that by performing this service, one we would happily do for our neighbors, we will in turn become your value added real estate group.

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Sentry Real Estate Advisors protests tax bills on behalf of local homeowners as a complimentary service. Inquire below and find out if you're being over taxed.