Our 27th year of publishing

Published May 11, 2021

Getting ready for my annual visit to the appraisers

By John Toth / The Bulletin

I am one of the many thousands of homeowners in Brazoria County who have received notice that my house again has turned from brick, mortar, drywall and repaired water pipes - into gold.

Property values in Brazoria County are continuing to skyrocket, which is great for the county’s bottom line and house sellers, but not-so-great for people like me, who are planning to live in their homes for a long time.

We have raised a family in this house and have many good memories. We don’t plan to move anywhere. Angleton has been our home since 1989, when our oldest was in Kindergarten, our second oldest was in diapers and our youngest had yet to be born.

The taxes on this house now are more than the entire mortgage was when we moved in - much more. I know, that was the old days when everything was less expensive. This is today, and we live in a financially progressive county that is moving on up to the East Side.

We even have a tollway on which we can drive to Houston, although I still prefer the free part of Hwy. 288 that I have taken ever since it opened one week before I got married in 1982. It used to be a breeze to go up and down on it. Now it’s filled with trucks, like Interstate 10 and 45.

We’re bigger, and one could argue that we’re better also in many ways. I know that the county appraisal district is using all kinds of formulas and comparisons to arrive at property values. A computer probably just spits them out and puts them in an envelope so that recipients like me can try to figure out why the house that has not changed in a year is now worth much more.

Sell it and take the profits off of it, I hear someone suggesting. Then I’d need another house to live in, so that’s not a good solution. And I’d be selling all the memories, like a closet door with writing by one of our children on it and the markings on the door frame of how tall the kids used to be.

So, selling is not an option. Plus, I hate moving.

If you’re in the same predicament, let me share with you what has worked for me well enough. It has to be done each year around this time, much like trying to lower the monthly charges on your DirecTV bill once a year.

I cut the cord on cable and quit doing that. But I cannot cut the cord on escalating property values, so this is what I do.

I go down to the appraisal district offices in Angleton, and I ask to speak to someone. Before Covid, I just walked in. Last year I had to do it all in writing, but it wasn’t all that difficult. I basically wrote down what I usually tell them in person. I’d rather talk to a real person, but in 2020 that wasn’t possible.

Instead of looking at all the property values data around me and trying to figure out why a house nearby sold for a price that I wouldn’t pay for two houses around here, I keep it simple.

“I don’t know who bought that house, but they must have money to burn,” I usually say in these words or pretty close to it. “I don’t want to go to a formal hearing, so can we work something out?”

The assistant appraiser then figures something out on the spot and gets close to the value I had in mind, which is last year’s value. They won’t hit it on the dot, but they get as close as they can without a formal hearing.

If you don’t like those numbers, then the remaining options are a formal hearing or hiring a firm that does this type of work. I’ve never hired one, though.

It has worked for me, plus I got to have a cordial conversation with a very nice appraiser.

I am planning to do this “informal protest” again this year and will report back to you, dear reader, on how it turned out.

I hope to bring you some good news, because unless my house turned into gold overnight, these new values are just ridiculous.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)