East Austinites say they’re hit hardest by property tax increases

A for sale sign in East Austin (KXAN Photo/Phil Prazan)
A for sale sign in East Austin (KXAN Photo/Phil Prazan)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Four Central Texas communities are tied for Forbes “most over-valued” housing markets: Austin, Round Rock, San Antonio and New Braunfels. Fitch Ratings estimates they are all overvalued by 19 percent. It says that home price appreciation appears to have “overshot growth.”

Those values are one reason your property taxes are likely going up hundreds of dollars next year. The cost could be passed on to renters too.

The Austin Independent School District approved a $1.3 billion budget last night. They lowered your tax rate by a penny, but the rising values mean houses cost more and Austinites will pay more in taxes.

For the typical Austin home, $300 more. It’s another reason many say it’s getting hard to find affordable housing in Austin.

Recently the story of Austin is one of big festivals, nightlife and an unemployment rate next to nothing. But it’s also the story of Glen Oaks Court, where another “for sale” sign just went up.

“A house that has a lot of memories,” said Gilbert Rivera. He and his wife Jane Rivera moved here in 1983. They have a portraits of their ancestors and themselves as children up on the walls. And they just received another letter in the mail, saying they could make a ton of money if they would just sell their home and move out.

“Who are we but just some old folks standing in the way?” asked Rivera.

They bought the house for $39,000. Last year, it was appraised for around $380,000. With the raise comes higher property taxes and people who can’t pay move out. Central Texas appraisers say it comes down to simple supply and demand.

People on the east side will tell you they’re hit the hardest. “We have had in the past couple of years to get a loan from the bank in order to pay the taxes,” said Rivera.

They plant flowers every year under the tree they put in place the year they moved in. They don’t know how many more years they’ll do that. Gilbert and Jane expect another letter in the mail soon asking for their house. Just the other day, another “for sale” sign went up down the street.

Rising property taxes hit Austin hard last year. You can challenge what you owe though. The Travis Central Appraisal District tells us 88,000 residential property owners filed a protest against their appraisal rates last year.  Sixty-five thousand were able to lower their taxes.

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