Austin Housing Market Update April 2021

As appraisals roll out, Travis County homeowners can expect surging values and higher tax bills

As Travis County homeowners get the 2021 property appraisal notices for their home over the coming weeks, they will confront the double-edged sword that is Austin’s housing market.

The values of their properties are soaring — which can be great if you are selling your home or plan to in the near future.

But if you are staying put, those rising values cut the other way, with property tax bills jumping by hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year — and that’s a scenario that’s not expected to change anytime soon.

The Travis Central Appraisal District started mailing appraisal notices this week to 389,530 property owners. The notices include the market value of the property based on its status as of Jan. 1, and the taxable value of the property based on its exemptions — and all of those numbers are rising quickly.

What is the average cost for a Travis County home?

The median market value for all Travis County homes — the amount for which a home potentially could sell — rose by 16.6% over last year, jumping from $354,622 to $413,403, according to preliminary figures from the Travis Central Appraisal District.

The median taxable value — the value a homeowner pays taxes on — increased 9.1%, to $304,832 from $279,520 last year. Cities, counties, school districts and other local taxing entities use that value in setting 2020 property tax bills later in the year.

A construction crew works one a new home in southeast Austin.

Overall, the Travis County appraisal roll increased 12% to $322.9 billion, led by more than $3.9 billion in increases for residential properties, said Marya Crigler, chief appraiser of the Travis Central Appraisal District.

“In my 30 years with the appraisal district, I have never seen data that shows home prices like this,” Crigler said. “The data is showing us that home prices are increasing as the local housing market continues to be constrained by a limited supply and overwhelming demand.”

Under Texas law, the taxable value of a homeowner’s primary residence can’t increase by more than 10% per year.  But as market values continue to swiftly rise, that means many homeowners are facing the prospect of multiple years of being hit with that 10% annual increase in taxable values — and the accompanying increase in their property tax bill.

That is only adding to the region’s ongoing affordability problems, as rising home prices have spiked faster than many residents’ incomes and are pricing large chunks of the population out of the market, experts say.


Shonda Novak
Austin American-Statesman

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