Appraisal season is in full swing, and as county homeowners face another year of skyrocketing valuations, Denton Central Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Hope McClure says the agency is heavily relying on technology because staffing “cannot keep up with the rapid growth that Denton County is experiencing.”
What to know as a homeowner
For homeowners, the first batch of this year’s appraisal notices went out April 18. According to McClure’s annual letter, 350,000 notices will be sent out in total.
Skyrocketing property values aren’t letting up this year. According to North Texas Real Estate Information Services, the median sale price for homes sold in Denton County is up by almost $100,000 from this time last year. That’s according to a NTREIS report comparing the first quarter of 2021 with the first quarter of 2022.
Last year’s first-quarter report had the median home price at $350,100 for the first quarter, but that has increased this year by 26.8%, to $445,000. McClure called it an unprecedented market appreciation, which is backed up by NTREIS tracking.
Property valuations are the first step in setting the tax bill for property owners. After DCAD has the values ready, the county, cities and school districts will set their respective tax rates.
For those who want to protest their home valuation, the deadline to file it is 30 days after the date the appraisal notice is mailed. That process can be started online at eprotest.dentoncad.com.
Appraisal district’s perspective
In recent years, DCAD has been slammed with complaints from residents and officials alike, with its former board chair admitting the agency made some mistakes that it continues to work through. According to McClure, the biggest challenge facing the district is staffing.
McClure declined a phone interview but answered questions by email. She wrote there are a few key differences for DCAD going into this appraisal year, including a new protest portal, a remodeled Morse Street building and a virtual waiting room people can use for a meeting without having to come in person.
Despite the improvements, McClure suggested staffing is a pressing concern for the district as it prepares to handle over 120,000 protests. During last year’s appraisal process, McClure said DCAD was projecting around 110,000, but the number ended up coming in low at 90,000. That means the agency is projecting about a 33% increase.
“Unfortunately, Denton CAD is understaffed, and we are relying heavily on technology right now,” McClure wrote. “The employees that we currently have are dedicated and hard working members of Denton County, but we cannot keep up with the rapid growth that Denton County is experiencing without more employees.”
McClure referred to Denton County as one of the fastest growing in the country but stated DCAD’s staffing levels don’t match the workload.
“Denton CAD has nearly 60,000 more parcels than Collin CAD, but Collin CAD has almost 65 more employees than we do,” McClure wrote.
To increase staffing levels, McClure said DCAD will need approval from the county, cities and school districts. Those agencies all get to cast votes in the agency’s board of directors election.
“We are depending on the support of our local entities (county, cities and school districts) to change [staffing levels] for us in 2023,” McClure stated. “Denton CAD needs their approval to increase the full time employee count and increase the DCAD budget. As I stated earlier, every DCAD appraiser will be working close to 5,000 protests/homeowners EACH in the next 60 business days.”