Texas is one of the few states that allow cities to expand their boundaries through forced annexation. This means a city can incorporate land—which could be one property or an entire neighborhood—into its city limits without the approval of the affected residents.

Annexation has pros and cons for affected residents: they may have access to city services, such as utilities and law enforcement, but they will also be subject to city taxes and land use regulations. Texas REALTORS® believe property owners should decide whether their property is annexed into a city.

What does this mean for the real estate industry?
Many Texans purchase property outside of city limits to avoid the regulations and taxes imposed by city government. But allowing a city to have the power to forcibly annex property and subject the affected property owners to new taxes without their approval can increase the cost of owning real estate and price owners out of their property.

This can also limit a buyer’s options if they avoid purchasing property near cities because the property is potentially subject to forced annexation in the future.

The Texas REALTOR® position
Our association believes forced annexation is un-Texan. Property owners deserve the right to have a say in whether their property is annexed. Our association supports legislation that extends statewide the right for impacted residents to vote on whether their property is annexed into a city.  

In addition, providing property owners the right to vote empowers them to make decisions for themselves, rather than having a local government’s decisions forced upon them.

Legislative outlook
We expect to see legislation filed that would extend statewide property owners’ right to vote before their land is annexed, no matter the county’s population.

Historical perspective
In 2017, lawmakers passed SB 6, which categorizes Texas counties for annexation purposes, based on their population:

  • Cites in Tier 1 counties (less than 500,000 residents) are not required to allow a vote before annexing land outside their boundaries. However, the law provides Tier 1 county residents a process to become a Tier 2 county by petitioning to include a proposition on their ballot.
  • Cities within Tier 2 counties (500,000+ residents) must allow impacted residents to vote on whether their property is annexed.

In 2018, residents of multiple Tier 1 counties petitioned to include a proposition on their November ballot that would change their county to a Tier 2. Voters overwhelmingly approved becoming Tier 2 counties, giving their residents the right to vote before their property is annexed.