Texas Plats, Maps and Tax Records
Researching property history, especially Texas property history, can be a daunting task. Amongst Texas's 254 counties, there is a lot of variety in terms of how property records are recorded and archived. One of the first steps to understanding the work we do at Hollerbach & Associates is understanding the basics of each county's record-keeping techniques and documentation. We want our clients to be informed on how to interpret their property history to minimize risk.
This is a document that contains a ton of information about a property's neighborhood and make-up. Also known as a "plat," plat maps show how a piece of land is divided into lots in in an area of a county. This is different from a tax map in that it is drawn to scale and documents each lot's size, boundary locations, nearby streets, flood zones and any easements or right of ways. These serve as legal descriptions for property indicated by lot, block, city or county block number, and subdivision name. Unlike a plot or survey, of a single piece of land, a plat map is essentially a record of the collection of plots that make up a neighborhood.
It's worth it to learn to read your plat map because it can tell you a lot of important information, such as the directional orientation of your property or whether a portion of your land is legally designated as an easement, meaning that people could be entitled to use it.
However, it's important to note that not all property is platted. If you're confused because your deed uses geographical references, also known as metes and bounds, to describe your property instead of using subdivision lot numbers, then your property is not platted.
Tax records are documents that are used to ensure appropriate assessment and taxation of each property. These documents are important because property taxes, collected by cities and counties, are used to fund schools, libraries and other public services, providing most of the revenue that is used to run a county or city.
In Texas, each county has a property appraisal district and a tax assessor-collector.
Appraisal districts are primarily responsible for:
- Agricultural and special appraisal
- Appraisal methodology
- Property values
- Protests and appeals
- Special inventory appraisal
County tax assessor-collector offices responsibilities include:
- Payment options
- Tax bills
- Tax certificates
- Tax rates
- Tax receipts
- Other information related to paying property taxes
Properties in Texas are typically assessed annually. The property value is determined by:
In a sales comparison, a tax assessor will compare a specific property's value with the value of other similar properties that have been sold recently.
The Cost Method
Also known as the replacement method, this is when a tax assessor tries to calculate the cost of completely replacing the structure of a property. Among the things considered are material, labor, land value and depreciation for older structures.
The Income Method
This method is primarily used for commercial real estate, such as businesses. This method involves predicting how much income the owner of a property could generate if they rented the property. The tax assessor will consider the cost of insurance, maintenance, rental rates and numerous other factors in their evaluation.
Using one of these methods, a property tax is calculated by multiplying the value of the property by the local tax rate. Tax records can give you great insight into a property's taxation history, showing all previous assessments. Using tax records, you can come to a somewhat accurate prediction of how much you will be likely to pay in taxes for any given property.
It's important to understand these intricacies involved in property history, especially in a state like Texas where record keeping is relatively inconsistent. However, you're not alone in the struggle to understand how to navigate the complex documents listed above — though with this guide we bet you can do a pretty good job. If you're still feeling lost in navigating plats, maps and tax records (oh my!), that's what Hollerbach & Associates is here for. When we say that "We Know Texas Better," we mean it. By hiring us for all of your title-research needs, we can make sure that you know Texas just as well as we do, and buyers and lenders will be able to close on properties knowing ALL of the risks involved. Contact us to get to know Texas better.