‘There are bidding wars for homes’: El Paso appraisal district executive describes robust home market despite pandemic


Cars drive down Mesa Street on July 1, 2020 in El Paso, Texas. As coronavirus cases have surged in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has paused the state’s reopening plan. (Photo by Cengiz Yar/Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso homebuyers are competing over residential properties despite the financial effects of the global pandemic, according to Dinah Kilgore executive director of the El Paso Central Appraisal District.

“There are bidding wars for homes,” Kilgore told the El Paso City Council on Tuesday. “They are setting the market.”

Homeowners began receiving valuation notices earlier this month causing some concern about what tax bills will look like at the end of the year. And, while Mayor Oscar Leeser has been vocal about not wanting to raise the tax rate, there is still concern about what bills will show.

Kilgore gave El Paso City Council representatives an idea what preliminary valuations will look like on Monday. She explained 2021 is a reappraisal year for properties and that appraisers are expecting to see average home taxable values at $150,280 after protests are filed.

District 3 city Rep. Cassandra Hernandez also proposed directing the city manager to review and make recommendations on expanding exemptions for elderly and disabled residents.

The council passed the measure with a 7-1 vote, District 4 city Rep. Joe Molinar casted the no vote.

There are several factors why more individuals and families are buying homes, Kilgore says. Interest rates are low and there are relaxed qualifications to purchase residential properties.

Those factors mixed in with a shortened supply of new homes and higher costs for materials has preliminary property valuations up this year. Appraisers expect to see an average increase over 10 percent on the taxable value of homes throughout the region once protests are filed.

Appraisers are encouraging residents to protest their valuations to offset the financial impact of increases in market values of their properties.

They explain that though property valuations may vary between the market and taxable values, residents will continue to pay more in taxes until the taxable value meets market values

“As long as you’re not happy with your market value, you should protest,” David Stone, assistant chief appraiser at the EPCAD said.

“Even though people may look at their property tax bill and say, ‘oh, I only went up 10 percent, that’s not so bad,’ if you’re market value is higher than that, it’s probably a good idea to protest it now, even though you’re only getting a 10 percent increase,” Stone, said. “If you come in next year, the ARB may say, well you’re market value was $150,000 and you didn’t complain. It’s still $150, why are you complaining now?”

Kilgore told the council it is up to them to make a decision on this year’s tax rate for city services.

Mayor Oscar Leeser thanked Kilgore and noted there is concern for many in the community.

“A lot of supply and demand is people can’t even sell their homes and they do have problems,” Leeser said. “I have a lot of concern with, we have a lot of people on a fixed income. And, when their property taxes go up, it really creates a hardship for them.”

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