12 min read

Harris County Appraisal District Assessment Insights

By Stephen Wicks

city skyline view of Houston Texas in Harris County Appraisal District

The third largest county in the U.S. and home to Houston, Harris County recently released 2020 property tax assessments. Large in both land mass and population, Harris County is covers more area than Rhode Island, and it’s residents speak 145 different languages, more than all U.S. cities except New York and Los Angeles (the county also gets more annual rainfall than Seattle).

 

As of April 17, Harris County Appraisal District had mailed over 1.4 million real property assessments notices for the 2020 property tax cycle. Despite any setbacks due to COVID-19, Harris County Appraisal District mailed much faster this year than in years past, with notices sent for more than 97% of residential and commercial properties. Most notices were mailed before April 15, making May 15 the appeal deadline for most Harris County property owners.

 

To determine if your 2020 property values are reasonable or if the values should be adjusted, it helps to start by looking at how values changed from 2019 to 2020. Given the size and scope of the assessment roll in Harris County, the county’s value trends can also provide insight into how values in other Texas counties might change in 2020.

 

ANALYZING 2020 ASSESSMENTS VS. 2019

Overall, in Harris County from 2019 to 2020:

  • Single family residential real property market values were up 5.6%.
  • Commercial real property market values increased 12.7%.
  • Industrial real property market values grew 7.5%.

 

Commercial real property is a broad category. So, let’s take a closer look at how different types of commercial property fared between 2019 and 2020.

 

For the purposes of this analysis, we used 2019 data as of mid-March 2020 (which takes into account all protests settled up to that point) and 2020 data as of mid-April 2020 (which includes properties noticed through April 17). In our comparison, we only included properties that have been sent an assessment notice in 2020, existed in 2019, and maintained the same property use between 2019 and 2020. This methodology provides a better average increase for benchmarking purposes as it removes activity like new construction, demolitions, and property use changes that can skew the average for a category.

 

RETAIL

Property tax values for retail properties trend very differently based on the type of retail property. In Harris County, department store values were nearly unchanged (similar to what we saw in Wake County, North Carolina for 2020) while drugstores increased more than 8%. Here’s a sampling of different types of retail and the corresponding year-over-year increase for 2020 in Harris County:

 

Type

Change
2019 to 2020

Convenience Food Market

3.47%

Department Store

-0.02%

Discount Department Store

7.18%

Drugstore

8.12%

Supermarket

2.15%

 

OFFICE BUILDINGS

Office building assessments in Harris County increased an average of 11% over the past year. Looking at the increase by building size, the average increase was similar for both low-rise and high-rise office buildings.

 

Type

Change
2019 to 2020

Office Building - 1-4 Stories

11.99%

Office Building - 5+ Stories

10.98%

 

MULTI-FAMILY

Overall, apartment properties with more than 4 units increased in value an average of 25% from 2019 to 2020. Below is a more detailed breakdown of increase by size/type of apartment complex:

 

Type

Change
2019 to 2020

Apartment - 4-20 Units

13.70%

Apartment - 1-3 Stories

29.45%

Apartment - 4-12 Stories

17.83%

Apartment - 13+ Stories

17.02%

 

RESTAURANTS

Harris County dines out more than any other major city in the U.S., and their restaurant values are split almost evenly between fast food and all other restaurant types. Restaurant properties saw an overall average increase of 5% in market value, with fast food restaurants increasingly slightly more than non-fast food restaurants.

 

Type

Change
2019 to 2020

Fast Food

5.51%

Non-Fast Food

4.54%

 

HOTELS AND MOTELS

As a general category, hotels and motels increased and average of 7% from 2019 to 2020. Breaking down the increase by type/size of hotel yields the following:

 

Type

Change
2019 to 2020

Hotel/Motel - 1-3 Stories

-0.82%

Hotel/Motel - 4+ Stories

10.69%

Hotel/Motel - Extended Stay

2.93%

 

MEDICAL FACILITIES

Medical offices and other facilities generally outpaced the average value increase for non-medical office buildings. A couple different types of medical facilities and their year-over-year property value changes are shown in the table below:

 

Type

Change
2019 to 2020

Medical Office

13.14%

Medical-Urgent Care Center

10.43%

 

SENIOR CARE

The average senior care facility saw a significantly smaller property value increase from 2019 than other general, multi-family properties. As you can see in the following table, the change for both nursing homes and retirement facilities was very similar:

 

Type

Change
2019 to 2020

Nursing Home

2.36%

Retirement Home

2.49%

 

OTHER

Finally, here are a few other property categories, along with the corresponding value change from 2019 to 2020 for Harris County:

 

Type

Change
2019 to 2020

Bank

2.08%

Day Care Center

1.57%

Mini-Storage

16.38%

Veterinary Clinic

1.75%

 

CONCLUSIONS

For the assessment notices that have been released thus far in 2020, there are a few things we can note about the year-over-year value changes we’re seeing in Harris County Appraisal District:

  • Retail property value increases were generally less than other commercial property value increases.
  • Office buildings saw an average increase in value similar to the overall commercial property value increase.
  • Multi-family properties are seeing a significant increase in value – more than most other categories of property.

 

Year-over-year analysis is a good, quick sanity check when you first look at a new year’s values. However, there’s much more to look at to determine if your property is over-assessed and, if so, by how much. If you are interested, we offer full assessment rolls by county that are standardized across jurisdictions and available in an easy to analyze spreadsheet. You can request those datasets here.

 

As more 2020 values are released in Texas, we’ll continue to offer analysis for large counties, comparing them back to what we’ve found in Harris (and to each other). To get these updates straight to your inbox as we post them, sign up for our Property Tax Assessment Insights.

 

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Tags: Assessment Insights, Tax Calendar Insights

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