An interesting annual chore for a homeowner is reviewing the appraisal district’s valuation of your home. You would like a home to be worth a lot of money, so if you wanted to sell, you could turn a profit, buy a new house or retire to the Caribbean. However, you would like the appraisal district to think your house is worthless, since your taxes depend on their valuation.

In Dallas, the Dallas Central Appraisal District sends out letters every year, telling you how much they think your house is worth. They do this by pulling a number out of their ass when you purchase a home and then adding .001% below the maximum amount they can to your appraisal each year.

The State actually caps the amount your appraisal can rise over a period of time, but there are very good mathematicians at the appraisal district.

You can protest the appraisal, which basically means you have to tell the government your house is worth less than they think. Since they usually think it is worth less than the market does, this seems counter-productive, but it is worth the effort, since it may lower your taxes. For golfers or dieters, it will be easy, since you’re already used to giving a number much lower than reality.

My Dad actually went to the Appraisal District’s office one year to file a protest, and he is convinced they dropped their valuation just as a reward for his actually having found the office. Apparently, it was in the back of a fairly abandoned-looking strip mall in Garland, which is interesting since his house was in Dallas.

I was considering doing that, but it turns out it’s much easier now – you can file a protest online. This sounds easy, and it is, but there is a twist. You fill in the first page, choose a protest reason (“You said my house is worth too much!”) and click Next.

Then, comes the fun part. You get to upload your documentation. Since my documentation was my having said “Good Freakin’ Lord! They raise my taxes every year!”, I was stuck.

So, I pulled the valuations from all the houses on my street, threw out the higher valuations since they didn’t help my case, built a spreadsheet and showed my house is worth more than the median value on the street. Maybe it is, I say it isn’t. Mainly because that’s the only argument I can make. Plus, it’s in an Excel spreadsheet, so it must be true.

If you actually go through the pain of building a spreadsheet and uploading it to their website, the next page says you may be eligible for a settlement – how much do you think the house is worth?

Now, the first thought is to say the house is worth $15, but that’s not going to fly. So, since my Dad  had said he thought they knocked ten grand off his valuation just because he managed to find their office, I took eight grand off mine just because I managed to create a spreadsheet..

We’ll see what happens.