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Sales-price disclosure

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Issue
Some appraisal districts, cities, and counties argue for full disclosure of all real estate sales prices to establish the value of real property in Texas.

There are numerous problems with basing value, especially taxable value, on the sales price of a real property. In many cases, central appraisal districts (CADs) do not consider seller concessions, which can lead to artificially high tax-appraisal values in the year-of-purchase and beyond.

There is also a problem with subdivisions that feature unequally sized lots or custom-built homes. Another issue concerns farm and ranch properties where improvements like trade fixtures and livestock are included in the sales price.

Additional difficulties arise with commercial properties, which may include a business and/or trade fixtures, value of long-term leases, and properties where mineral rights are included or excluded from the sale.

What does this mean for the real estate industry?
According to conservative estimates, sales-price disclosure will lead to a property-tax increase of more than $250 million for Texas property owners.

High property taxes are already a barrier to homeownership and the relocation of businesses to Texas. Increasing property taxes would be a disincentive to homeownership and enterprise, hurting the real estate market and the Texas economy.

The Texas REALTOR® position
The Texas Association of REALTORS® opposes all legislative efforts to require the disclosure of sales-price information because:

  • Sales price is not necessarily a good indicator of taxable value
  • Disclosure is an unnecessary invasion of privacy
  • Disclosure could pave the way for a new real estate transfer tax in Texas, as most states that require sales-price disclosure use it to compute tax liability for the transfer of real estate.

Legislative outlook
Central appraisal districts may seek full sales-price disclosure of all real estate transactions in Texas. This includes residential, commercial, industrial, raw land, and farm and ranch transaction.

The Texas Legislature has consistently stated expanding government intrusion into the private lives of Texans is not an option.

Historical perspective
The appraisal process we know today was created by the Legislature in 1979 and was fully implemented in January 1982. Mandatory sales-price disclosure was part of the debate then and has been ever since. Prior to a central appraisal process, each local taxing jurisdiction valued real property separately. The city could have one value on their books while the county had a completely different value.

Since 1982, real property in Texas has been subject to a local property tax administered at the local-taxing-jurisdiction level. CADs are tasked with appraising real property for ad valorem taxation purposes. Many of these appraisal districts have called upon the Legislature to pass sales-price disclosure to enable districts to adequately appraise real property.

In 2006, Gov. Perry created the Texas Task Force on Appraisal Reform (TTFAR), and the final report stated, “Most appraisal districts do not have the internal capacity to analyze complex financial or commercial transactions.”

During the 81st Texas Legislature in 2009, lawmakers passed comprehensive appraisal reform in the form of numerous bills aimed at reforming the process. Specifically, the Legislature passed HB 8, which enacted a Methods and Procedures Audit on all 253 appraisal district in Texas. The comptroller’s office was tasked with implementing the bill and has completed the audits.

In 2009, the 81st Texas Legislature also passed (and voters approved) a constitutional amendment which allows for uniform appraisal standards to be used in all appraisal districts.

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, in the most recent report on appraisal districts and appraisals, stated that all real property in Texas is being valued at 99% of market value. Based on this official report, it can hardly be determined that real property appraisals in Texas are inaccurate.

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