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Austin homes will be reappraised in 2021 after Board of Realtors dispute
(Pexels)

The Travis Central Appraisal District has identified a new market data source that will allow it to reappraise residential properties in 2021 after a legal dispute with the Austin Board of Realtors prevented the district from doing so this year.


The TCAD board unanimously approved a new contract with Carahsoft Technology Corporation and TransUnion, which includes access to a new market data report.

"Given the information, we're optimistic that we'll be able to recalibrate our appraisal models for 2021," TCAD Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler said during a board meeting on Friday.

A hunt for data

Texas is one of 12 non-disclosure states in the U.S., which means real estate sales prices and other market data are not publicly available.

As a result, TCAD had previously relied on home-sales price data provided through third-party vendors. In 2018, the district signed a contract with CoreLogic, which had agreed to sell access to market data collected by the Austin Board of Realtors.

Last year, however, ABoR sent a cease-and-desist letter to TCAD, arguing that its market data was proprietary and preventing the district from accessing it further.

Although appraisal districts across Texas rely on other sources of data, such as sales questionnaires and title company inquiries, Crigler said TCAD was not able to gather enough information to recalibrate its models accurately without the ABoR data.

The district was able to access, on average, 95% of sales data between 2012 and 2019, according to data Crigler shared with the board. But in 2020 it could only access 15%.

In February, Crigler announced TCAD would not re-appraise residential properties in 2020 because it didn't have adequate market data to do so accurately and legally.

This was a big deal in a hot market. City budget documents show the median appraised home value increased more than 6% in 2019, and representatives from eight Travis County School districts said the decision would have negative effects on school funding, which is contingent upon property tax revenue. ABoR disputed this claim.

A new solution

Since then, Crigler told board members she has reached out to property appraisers "from Pennsylvania to California and all parts in between"—as well as some in Canada, the European Union and Asia—to ask about possible solutions.

An assessor's office in Cook County, Illinois, turned Crigler on to a new product from the Carahsoft Technology Corporation and TransUnion. Like the ABoR data, their market data report is proprietary.

After piloting a test of sample data to verify its accuracy over the summer, Crigler recommended that the TCAD board approve a contract with Carahsoft for the report.

"We feel confident that it is good market data that they are providing to us," she said.

The board voted unanimously to do so.

Because the state of Texas has pre-negotiated a contract with Carahsoft that includes this new product, Travis County will be able to purchase the product through the state.

The initial report costs $201,788 and TCAD estimates that subsequent quarterly reports will cost around $25,000 apiece.

This is significantly more expensive than the CoreLogic contract that TCAD had previously relied on, which Crigler said was around $25,000 annually.

But Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector and Voter Registrar Bruce Elfant, who is on the TCAD board, reasoned that the Carahsoft report is "a better product—and it's not a product that will get yanked from us."

Travis County homeowners can expect to receive their 2021 appraisal notices around April.

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Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation


🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway