Teardowns bringing land values up, structure values down

Dallas County residents got their tax appraisals a couple weeks ago, and we’ve heard from a number of homeowners who made an interesting discovery when they opened the appraisal – while their total appraisal value didn’t change dramatically, the value of the land skyrocketed and the value of the property dropped just as much, sometimes as much as nearly $100,000.

I spoke with Cheryl Jordan, community relations officer for Dallas Central Appraisal District, who told me this isn’t a new phenomenon, especially within the city limits of Dallas, people are just looking at their appraisals more closely this year.

“This has been going on for four or five years, and people are just noticing it more this year,” she said.
State law requires DCAD to distinguish between land and structure values on its appraisals. DCAD has a variety of models it uses to establish those values.

But when a neighborhood has just one tear down, or one vacant lot purchased, it adds another variable to the mix.

When a landowner purchases a piece of property and the existing structure is torn down, “obviously they’re buying it for the land since they tore down the house, Jordan said. “What they paid was indicative that they wanted that lot,” and DCAD adjusts its models accordingly.

Completely unrelated to the aforementioned topic, I asked Jordan if the number of protests has increased. She said it was too soon to tell, but anecdotally, it seemed like walk-in business was about normal.

But in a strange case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t, Jordan said some homeowners are coming to protest their appraisal because they feel it is too low.

“We’ve lowered a lot of values, and some people who are trying to refinance or sell, they complain that it’s been lowered too much,” Jordan said.

Other times, Jordan said, people believe their value shouldn’t go down out of pride, regardless of the tax implications. Unsatisfied with the thought of their investment decreasing, they protest to get their appraisal raised.


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  • dallaschas

    For those of you that are paying attention, the trend over the last couple of years by DCAD to dramatically increase your lot value and decrease the value of your house and everything else built on your lot is a very dangerous precedent. It says that the taxing authorities only see value in the redevelopment potential of your lot as a new building site.
    What makes the numerous older neighborhoods in Oak Cliff so liveable are the mature landscapes and the front porches and the scale of the neighborhoods. your taxing authorities favor redevelopment for greater tax revenue.
    Some north Oak Cliff neighborhoods have either adopted or are considering adopting Conservation District ordinances that protect the best things that they like about their neighborhoods. Each CD is written by the homeowners to fit their preferences but the result is to stabilize the neighborhood and send a message that teardowns and mcmansions are not welcome or if they come must follow additional rules on height, setbacks, massing or even architecture in order to be good neighbors to the original homes. And it sends a message to DCAD that what this neighborhood values are its homes, not the piece of real estate underneath as a redevelopment site.
    To allow DCAD to depreciate your home and increase the lot value creates a disincentive for homeowners to make the investment in their historic or older homes and sends a message that old is not valuable. This is something that Cliff Dwellers are smart enough to realize is not true.