The lines were long and the phones steadily rang at the Bexar County Tax Appraisal District Office on North Frio downtown. Wednesday was the last day to file a protest over the appraised value of a home or business.
Several taxpayers at the appraisal district office on Tuesday argued that the value estimates placed on their homes were too high.
The district reported an average increase of up to nine percent for most homeowners, but some taxpayers said their appraisals were up 20 percent or more.
Retired taxpayers or people on fixed incomes expressed the most concern.
Chief Appraiser Mike Amezquita said protests were way up this year because property values were too.
“We, to date, have processed double the amount of appeals we had same time last year, and so we've had 12 to 15,000 people through the process,” he said. “Almost 90 percent have settled with my staff, so they are done, and they get to enjoy the rest of their summer,” he said.
Amezquita said state law required him to set appraisals to reflect market values. He said the city's hot home market drove up values. He added that the city has a three-month supply of homes, only half the considered norm of six-month supply.
He said San Antonio's place among the fastest growing major cities in the U.S. is driving the housing market. In 2018, U.S. Census officials declared San Antonio the fastest growing city.
Housing demand was felt in areas not accustomed to being part of the city's economic boom.
Many homes on the South Side -- in the Harlandale, South San, and Edgewood school districts -- were in demand..
“Homes that were selling a year ago or so for $80, $90,000 are now selling for $120 to $150,000,” Amezquita explained.
He said gentrified neighborhoods downtown and around downtown also felt the tax pain because many older homes have been refurbished, and that drove up prices for entire neighborhoods.
Amezquita joked about his job. He knew that setting home appraisals made him unpopular sometimes.
“I always ask my friends not to invite me over if they have recently remodeled,” he said.
Amezquita said tax appraisals can be protested online using a pin number from the appraisal form, in-person at 411 North Frio or by mail with a postmark before midnight Wednesday.
In-person protests were accepted at the district office at 411 North Frio. Mailed-in protests must be marked by midnight Wednesday.
He said state law requires 95 percent of tax protests settled by July 25. He said most protests have some positive outcome for taxpayers.
“Nine out of ten protests are getting settled, so I encourage people to come on down,” he said.