- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

LAGO VISTA, Texas (AP) - Property valuations along a Central Texas lake continue to rise even though many properties no longer have waterfront as the drought draws down water lines.

Homeowner Tommy Risher on Lake Travis appealed a 20 percent increase in the appraisal of his land. He won, knocking the appraisal down to $400,000 from $482,000 and saving on his tax bill. His neighbor, Kevin Wyatt, also argued for a reduction and received a 25 percent decrease on the assessment of his property. He recommended more homeowners challenge their appraisals, too.

“A lot of people don’t fight their valuations because either they don’t know the facts or they don’t have the resources or time or energy,” Wyatt said. His appraisal was lowered by almost $100,000 to $300,000.

“You’re being valued as a waterfront home, which is probably double what a non-waterfront property is. Except you’re not on the waterfront anymore.”

Those recent appeals highlight whether all appraisals of Lake Travis waterfront have discounted the effect of lower lake levels on the real estate market, the Austin American-Statesman (https://bit.ly/1twRs4K ) reported.

Real estate agents say land around the lake doesn’t hold the value it did prior to the drought, which has caused Lake Travis to drop 41 feet below average.

But property values established by the Travis Central Appraisal District rose by 6.5 percent this year. In Travis County, property values increased overall by 11 percent.

Assessments by appraisal districts are important for property taxes, which usually account for the bulk of the money raised by Central Texas local governments.

“There’s a great disparity between the Travis County appraisal district’s opinion in values and the reality in the marketplace,” said Gene Hammonds, a broker with Highland Lakes Real Estate. “It’s just way off.”

Along Lake Travis, drought and lake levels were the main reasons behind the lower property value figure compared to the overall Travis County total, said Marya Crigler, chief appraiser of the Travis Central Appraisal District.

She said that besides confidential market information, appraisers consider aerial photography and how far the property is from the lake’s main channel before offering any discount in valuations.

Crigler said appraisals for Lake Travis properties are now returning to where they were before the 2008 recession. She said 2014 appraisals for Lake Travis property now total nearly $2 billion.

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, https://www.statesman.com


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