NewsChannel 11 Investigates: Inconsistent Home Appraisals - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/11/08

NewsChannel 11 Investigates: Inconsistent Home Appraisals

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What would you do if you noticed your house appraisal went up and your neighbors didn't?  You might start asking questions and that's exactly what some residents are doing.

Darrell Young lives in a 39 year old house in Rushland Park.  He hasn't remodeled it and in many places the mortar is missing between the bricks. "You can see where the wood is rotted out," said Young.

Even though he hasn't made improvements to his home, Young's home appraisal went up $8,125 this year. But what about his neighbors?  "Nearly everyone that I have, their actual appraisal went down where mine went up," he said.

The Lubbock Central Appraisal District is the agency that determines what your home is worth and that is the amount you will be taxed on. It does so by comparing what homes have recently sold for in your area, along with square footage and other factors. So if that's the case, "Why did theirs go down and mine go up?" asked Young.

Some of his neighbors' appraisals went down anywhere from $4,000 to $18,000. Alex "Ty" Cooke lives down the street from Young in his 4118 square foot home. You may remember, he served as Lubbock City Councilman for nearly 11 years and retired in 2003.

Cooke's appraisal went down more than $4,000 from 2007 to 2008. According to the Lubbock Central Appraisal District, he didn't have to protest to get that decrease. Compared to Young's house, Cooke is paying roughly $55 a square foot for his house, whereas Young is paying roughly $79 a square foot for his 2542 square foot home.

We took this information to Chief Appraiser Dave Kimbrough.   "Do you receive phone calls from elected officials asking questions about their appraisal?" asked NewsChannel 11's Cecelia Jones. "I haven't. I don't recall any elected official asking me about making adjustments to certainly their properties.  I don't get involved in making adjustments to individual properties," said Kimbrough.

NewsChannel 11 analyzed the appraisal history dating back to 2005.  Cooke's appraisal had gone up $9,300 and during that same time period, Young's house went up $34,000. So, if these two homes are in the same neighborhood, why the inconsistency? "How come some houses can increase $20,000 and some can increase $500? Why do you have such inconsistencies?" asked NewsChannel 11. 

"Because the market is inconsistent," answered Kimbrough.  Young protested his property value before the appraisal review board this year and lost, even though he used evidence that the market value of two homes last year that sold in his neighborhood cost less per square foot than what his house is worth.  "I fought that it is not equal and uniform because in the addition I live in, I've got 12 people, different residences that their houses are substantially lower than what mine is per square foot," said Young.

According to state law, you have the right to protest if you feel there was an unequal appraisal of your property. Kimbrough says Young protested his appraisal last year too. The board lowered his appraisal to the 2006 figure and he says because the other neighbors didn't get that benefit, that was the reason why Young's appraisal went up and others went down.

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