This spring, many island homeowners saw the values of their homes rise.
Because of rising values, Frank Martinez worries he might have to sell the house his family owns near 15th and Church streets, he said.
The house’s value increased from about $130,000 to $144,000, and now he’s worried the taxes might be too much for him to pay, he said.
“I’m going to go fight the county,” Martinez said.
His brother lives in the house right now, but the family will have to decide whether to keep it, Martinez said.
The average market value for residents living in Galveston Independent School District rose 10 percent this year, a figure that’s reflecting higher demand of the limited island housing.
“People are buying homes,” said Marcel Pierel, deputy chief appraiser with the Galveston County Central Appraisal District.
The appraisal district assesses property values, but property tax rates are set by local municipalities, school districts or other taxing entities.
More than 70 percent, 79,446, of the 112,011 notices the appraisal district sent out in the county told people their home value increased by more than $1,000, Pierel said.
The district doesn’t break out that data by city, he said.
Home sales prices in Galveston have been up about 10.5 percent in the past 12 months, said Robert Zahn, president of the Galveston Association of Realtors.
“I think the market has improved,” Zahn said.
But people should still protest their property values if they want to, Zahn said. The appraisal is required to determine market value of property to assess values, he said.
“I think they are looking at a very positive market, which is not always reflective of the properties they are selling,” Zahn said.
Last year, the district received 27,071 protests, Pierel said.
Vasilis Papavasiliou already filed protests for the handful of properties he owns on the island, he said.
Aside from his own home, he rents out a few properties to tenants and is in the process of fixing a few up, he said.
One home on the East End went up $35,000 in value, he said.
“I am concerned about it,” Papavasiliou said. “It is very hard. The value of my property goes up and up.”
He doesn’t want to raise rent on his tenants, but if he has to pay more in taxes, it’s difficult to avoid raising rents, he said.
In Texas, property values drive almost everything from school funding to municipal budgets.
And tax rates can also increase because of bond elections or new construction, such as when the tax rate went from 0.526 in 2017 to 0.561 in 2018, city spokeswoman Marissa Barnett said.