Taxes & Affordability
Monday, May 01, 2017
Written By: Suzanne Gantner

It’s every REALTOR’s favorite time of the year. Pre-summer business is starting to pick up momentum, potential sellers are scheduling appointments to find out how much they can sell their home for, and buyers are wanting to start window shopping for homes. Then you get a call from a past client, “Help, my property value just went up $40,000 –that can’t be right, is it?” You stop in your tracks and know that you just got way busier.  When it comes to property taxes, there are three things affecting the annual tax bill: homestead exemption, rising property values, and how the CAD is valuing properties.

About 6 weeks ago property “valuations” were sent to owners from their Central Appraisal District. Hopefully, you reminded your clients who purchased a homestead this year to file their exemptions with the Appraisal District before April 30th. 

How does the Homestead Exemption actually affect affordability? The homestead allows for a $25,000 decrease in the taxable value of your home for school taxes, a $3,000 decrease in the taxable value of a home for the Williamson County FM/RD Taxes, and then a $5,000 reduction in the taxable value for Community College taxes. For example, the tax rate for a home in the City Limits of Cedar Park is approximately 2.58%. Currently, the median home price is Cedar Park is $290,000, and the median tax bill is $7,098 with the homestead exemption and $7,482 without; a difference of about $11,000 over a 30 year period.

Rising property values are a good thing in the real estate industry; owners are building equity in their home. But then sometimes, this can be too much of a good thing. Since 2012, property valuations in Cedar Park have grown over 40%. The median price for a home in Cedar Park was $230,000 in 2013, and the tax rate at that time was slightly higher, 2.5958%. The taxes on a median home with the homestead in the area would have been $5,284.09 per year, $1,814 less than the current taxes for the same area.

In retrospect, it’s very important for you, the REALTOR to watch taxes and affordability issues; this is why WCREALTORS has gotten very involved with the major cities in Williamson County - to hold our leadership accountable.  Inform your clients, especially your first-time home buyers how taxes and escrow work. Explain that as property taxes increase, so can their monthly mortgage payment. Do your part to make sure that the home you are selling your clients doesn’t become the home you are selling for your clients because they cannot afford it any longer. 

Stay on top of taxing entities (school districts, local government, etc.) and know how that money is being spent.  Get out and VOTE when there is an election; encourage your clients to become informed and make sure they are registered to vote at their new address after they close on their new home. Taxes have such a negative connotation in today’s society but are a necessity to ensure infrastructure, roads, emergency responders, and more are in place to support the community. It is up to the citizens to hold the government and our elected officials to their word and make sure they are using our tax dollars (and those of our clients) appropriately.

About the Author:
Suzanne is a graduate of Southwest Texas State University (now known as Texas State University – San Marcos). While at SWTSU Suzanne floated the River regularly, attended Wurstfest, joined the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, was an OBI for the Theta Xi's and graduated with an Art Degree. Shortly after, Suzanne was asked to open up the Central Texas Market for the Greensheet paper. In her career, she has worked in many marketing positions in the home building industry, which led her down the path she has come to love. The housing industry was Suzanne’s direction to greatness. She worked my way up in several Fortune 500 Home Builders to the level of VP of Marketing. Those were great jobs and great days. When 9/11 happened, the nation panicked and many jobs were lost due to uncertainty in the market place, including hers. At that time she created her own ad agency - Creative Minds where her clients where the home builders who had let their marketing staff go. Suzanne got her real estate license and started selling and listing in 2003 and never looked back. She loves where she is and what she does. Suzanne serves as the 2017 President of the Williamson Count Association of REALTORS®.


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