Episode 60, Segment 3: What's Going On In Westlake?
Remax Austin Skyline Agent Mark Minchew continues his guest segment on the show and discusses Westlake & property tax issues with John Schutze and Mark Hairston of Supreme Lending.
Mark has been working in the Westlake area for 26 years, so when it comes to knowing everything you know about property taxes and the area market, Mark is definitely your go-to guy.
WESTLAKE LAND VALUES & PRICES
"The taxing authority is changing the way they appraise your property to value your land more than your house sometimes," Mark says of the current property values in Westlake. "That's why a lot of people are buying land in Westlake and actually scrapping the houses."
Land values just a few years ago were around $225,000, Mark says, and they've increased to $340,000 currently.
"Homes in the Westlake area (which I define as those who go to Westlake High School) now have an average list price of $2,370,000. The median price is $1.6 million. People from California come here and see that and say, 'What a deal!'" Mark laughs. "But, they say our property taxes are too high in Austin. However, they're just looking at a percentage. If they look more closely, buying a house here is actually 1/3rd of the value of a home in California. Plus, we have no income taxes here!"
WHO'S MOVING HERE?
"Californians can buy more with their money here. Instead of a little bungalow, they can buy a mansion here with the same amount of money, and overall we're lower in taxes here than in California."
John Schutze mentioned he's heard from several local economists this year that Floridians are actually coming here more than Californians now, "Which is interesting," he says. "I feel like I've seen a lot more people moving from California than from Florida!"
Turns out, Austin is now being touted as a top retirement community in the nation, according to Mark.
"People are getting sick of the hot weather and boiling eggs on the sidewalk in Arizona and hurricanes in Florida, and most people like to have some seasons anyway," Mark says. "So Georgetown and Sun City have been booming and Austin is becoming a retirement destination."
TAX vALUATIONS & PROTESTS
Mark Hairston of Supreme Lending asked the question: The tax valuations of my home have gone up quite a bit recently. As a homestead property, what are the advantages of a higher valuation?
"When you're at a homestead property, you have to be there for two years, or two Januarys. After two Januarys, they can no longer go higher than 10% of what they're assessing you on," Mark Minchew says. "They can still show that your value has gone up quite a bit but then the assessment value is locked at a 10% which keeps you from having incredible increases."
"Tax protests really are not hard to do," Mark adds. "Give them your comps and they'll look at yours, They're actually not allowed to use the MLS system, so they maybe have just 20-30% of the properties to compare yours to."