It’s TCAD appraisal time in Austin, which means that the taxing authority is back to making up absurd valuations for our homes, and then seeing how many people complain. It’s a great strategy, as there are always people who don’t have the time / skill / interest in complaining, and they get to pay more taxes.
It’s the time of year where Realtors get to show off one thing they have in their favor – their access to the MLS data, as residents search for comparable sales data to protest the inflated tax valuations foisted upon them. Texas is a non-disclosure state, so home sales prices aren’t publicly available. To protest taxes based on a comparable sales model, people need sales prices, so they have a few choices:
1. Get an appraisal by a third party
2. Get a third party tax protest company to protest for them
3. Ask a friendly Realtor for sales data
There’s a fourth method that threatens to smash the Realtor data cartel in Austin – use a real estate website that shares sales data. On the Mueller Austin community site, one resident pointed out the Redfin site which does allow people to see sales data.
How do they do that, if such data is the sacred property of the Austin MLS? It’s a nifty little item in their terms of service which says that you enter into a broker relationship with them, that you are interested in the sale, lease or purchase of the property in question. Screenshot below courtesy of Redfin.com:
Of course, this is the same thing that allows the TopProducer suite to offer sales data in their market snapshot. For example, you can get a report emailed to you from my site which shows trends in the market in your neighborhood which includes aggregate sales data and also allows you to drill down to individual sales data.
I do like the RedFin interface though – it’s sure to get lots of people to sign up as users, even if they’re really looking for data for a tax appraisal protest rather than strictly adhering to the terms of service.