Booming appraisals anger some OdessansSome have gone up more than 20 percent

Many Odessa homeowners were surprised and then outraged recently when they received the annual appraised value of their home, which was much higher than many had expected.
For residential homes, Ector County Chief Appraiser Anita Campbell said their values went up on average about 16 percent, higher than previous years’ appraisals, which ranged in increases of 10 percent to 14 percent. The increases were even worse for commercial buildings, some of which saw increases in value of more than 20 percent, and some multi-family residences like apartment buildings saw their value double.
So why did the values increase so much this year?
“The easy answer is because things are selling more,” Campbell said. “It’s definitely more complicated than that, but we spend a whole year analyzing sales for the previous year because our task is to appraise properties at market value.”
So as long as people are buying and selling for a higher price, Campbell said, those appraisals are going to be higher as well.
“We’re required by the state, we’re audited by the state to be at market value,” Campbell said.
One Odessan, Troy Walker, said the evaluation on his home increased by $100,000 this year, and said all he had done in the last year was mow and water his lawn.
Even for houses that hadn’t been altered, or upgraded or repaired in the past year, they still saw an increase in their value. A house bought today, Campbell said, could have nothing done to it in improvements, and if the market is increasing it will still sell for more than what the buyer paid.
“That’s just the law of supply and demand,” Campbell said. “That’s what we’ve seen here the past four or five years.”
Many people think the appraisal district is setting the value of homes, but Campbell said this isn’t exactly the case. If property owners are buying and selling properties for a greater value than listed on the district’s appraisal roll, those sales values are used a year later see where properties are in relation to market values.
A tax estimate is also given at the bottom of the appraisal notice sent out to property owners, but Campbell said that is an estimate based on last year’s taxes, a guess, and that next year’s tax rate hearings will begin in September.
“So if you’re unhappy with your taxes but you believe that we have market value, then you need to attend some rate hearings,” Campbell said.
But many Odessans still aren’t happy with their notices. One Odessa homeowner, Vicki Taylor, said she saw a 10.59 percent increase in her appraisal value, and has seen no salary increase. She said she’s even thinking of taking on an additional part-time job to make ends meet.
“It’s becoming impossible to live in my own home,” Taylor said. “I’m hoping not to be homeless, seriously.”