Property values in Round Rock have increased dramatically over the past year despite the COVI9-19 pandemic, according to Alvin Lankford, Chief Appraiser of the Williamson Central Appraisal District (WCAD).
Lankford spoke to the Round Rock City Council at its Tuesday, May 25, work session. Based on preliminary data, 2021 taxable property values have risen more than 17 percent in Round Rock to $17.5 billion, he said.
“It’s the largest single year increase here in the 21 years I’ve been Chief Appraiser,” Lankford said. “I talked to my predecessor, Bill Carroll, and he said it was the largest increase he’d seen in his 40-year career. This, despite a pandemic.”
The appraisal district is responsible for appraising property for each taxing unit that imposes property taxes within the district. The appraisal district is a political subdivision of the State of Texas, not part of Williamson County government, Lankford noted.
In his presentation, Lankford explained the process the WCAD uses to determine values and highlighted new information provided to property owners in appraisal notices that were mailed out in April. New this year was information on the comparable properties the WCAD used to determine market value.
Other entities noting the dramatic increase in valuations, due to housing supply not keeping up with increasing demand, are the Austin Board of Realtors (ABoR) and the Texas A&M Real Estate Center, Lankford said. ABoR data shows limited inventory and increasing sales prices (see chart), while the Real Estate Center shows a year over year increase of 17,2 percent.
Tax payment estimates were not included in this year’s notices, Lankford said. In 2019, the State Legislature passed Senate Bill 2, which allowed appraisal districts to remove the inaccurate estimate of taxes, which was based on the previous year’s tax rates, and point property owners to an interactive website with comprehensive information about the tax process.
In Williamson County, that website is host to certified appraised values as well as the most current tax rates for each entity and a listing of tax rate hearing dates. The information on that site will be updated as values are certified, and tax rate hearing dates and tax rates are set by the taxing entities. A post card will be sent in early August to all property owners in Williamson County reminding them of the website.
Lankford also noted the confusion surrounding a residential property’s “market value” versus its “homestead cap,” also referred to as taxable value. While the market value of a residential property may increase by, say, 15 percent, for taxable purposes the value is capped at 10 percent.
Because it is based on recent sales, market value may change upwards or downwards any amount depending on recent market trends and IS NOT limited to increases of 10 percent or more. Per the Texas Property Tax Code, an exemption for taxation is available to an individual’s primary residence. One of the features of the exemption is a limit to the amount that the value for taxation can increase from one year to the next. This limit is frequently referred to as the “homestead cap.” The “capped” value is shown as the “Assessed Value” and is located at the bottom of the list of values on your notice or online. The assessed value IS limited by the Homestead Exemption and may not go up more than 10 percent in one year in most cases as long as the exemption was in place for the prior year for the current owner.
Property owners can learn about the distinction between market value and homestead value here.
When assessed values are finalized in August, the City Council will begin the formal process of setting the property tax rate for the 2022 budget through a series of public hearings and votes.
For more information, visit wcad.org.