Devine News: How much did Atascosa County’s assessed valuation change in 2020? What was the change for mobile homes?
Michelle Berdeaux: The overall assessed valuation for Atascosa County before exemption loss was down 5.78 percent from 2019 to 2020. This was mainly attributed to the loss in mineral valuation as well as some oil/gas related business personal property. For Mobile Home only accounts, there was roughly 13.3 percent increase in assessed value. These totals include new accounts that were added for 2020. Several factors affect the percentages, such as exemptions, homestead caps and agricultural value loss to qualifying farm and ranch operations.
News: In developing comps, does your staff compare units in mobile home parks with mobile homes on individual acreage?
Berdeaux: It is possible that comparable properties with mobile homes may be located on individual acreage/lot accounts. The comps are verified sales that are adjusted to extrapolate (remove) any land value and make the comp identical to the subject property that they are being compared to. This is a generally accepted appraisal practice in both Mass Appraisal as well as a private Fee Appraisal and is in compliance with Section 23.01 of the Texas Property Tax Code.
News: Please respond to this statement: “Mobile home values should go down year to year because of depreciation.”
Berdeaux: The Texas Property Tax Code section 23.01 states that all taxable property is to be appraised at its market value as of January 1. If the market is indicating that the value of mobile homes is appreciating within the county faster than they are depreciating, then the values will reflect that increase. We use a nationally recognized pricing guide as well as local sales to determine the market annually. Atascosa County has seen an increase in mobile home sales and pricing for the past several years, and the mobile home market is, in fact, on the rise.
Furthermore, we must look at the Texas Property Tax Code definition of Market Value that states:
“Market value” means the price at which a property would transfer for cash or its equivalent under prevailing market conditions if:
(A) exposed for sale in the open market with a reasonable time for the seller to find a purchaser;
(B) both the seller and the purchaser know of all the uses and purposes to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used and of the enforceable restrictions on its use; and
(C) both the seller and purchaser seek to maximize their gains and neither is in a position to take advantage of the exigencies of the other.
There is a misconception that mobile homes purchased at wholesale value, National Automobile Dealer’s Association (NADA) trade in value or at an auction should be valued at that purchase price. Unfortunately, those types of purchases are not generally available to the public and do not meet the definition of market value. The district is always willing to consider purchase prices that meet the market value definition when they are provided to us in a verifiable format such as a closing statement or executed purchase agreement. This information is rarely provided.
News: Did ACAD cancel informal interviews because of COVID? What alternative resolution programs were used?
Berdeaux: ACAD did not cancel informal meetings due to COVID-19. We modified our procedures to comply with the health and safety risks of all parties involved. We have made every effort to keep the public informed and safe during these difficult times. An informative letter was included with all Notice of Appraised Value letters that were mailed in May advising of our modified procedures and our website has been updated regularly to reflect changes as they have occurred in our operating procedures.
Our office was temporarily closed on June 22 due to a staff member testing positive. The exposure required a 14-day quarantine of all of the staff and a deep cleaning of the ACAD facility. While our office was closed and no one was on-site, the majority of the staff was able to communicate with property owners remotely via email. Anyone who was not reached via email was contacted when the office was reopened on July 6.
The majority of our hearings were held via teleconference or Zoom and were completed by July 24. Property owners who requested in-person hearings were scheduled to appear in person the week of September 21 and 28. In-person hearing procedures were put into place for the safety of all parties involved.
Any property owner requesting an in-person hearing received those protocols with their Notice to Appear letter. We are doing everything in our power to protect the public, staff and the overall well being of our citizens while providing them with exceptional customer service during these challenging times.