County turns to drones for home appraisals

Recent advances in technology is helping Hays County officials to better accommodate the process of appraising properties.

Every three years, every parcel of property in Hays County is reviewed by the Hays County Appraisal District (CAD) to assess the value of a property.

With around 95,000 properties in Hays County, the appraisal district has turned to drone technology to assess properties.

The service is provided by Eagle View, a company that specializes in property measurements using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, which allows appraisers to view a property from the sky with precise information.

“The software allows us to properly measure the perimeter of a property, see what additions have been made to a property that could change the value, all from a computer,” said David Valle, chief appraiser for the Hays County Appraisal District. “The software does not reveal any private information and is strictly used to help appraise a property.”

Appraising a home, in particular, is a process that involves different components to properly assess the value. Additions such as pools and outdoor decks, as well as the neighborhood, location, expansion projects and interior improvements are all components in assessing the value of a home.

Appraisals are completed around mid-April and citizens have 30 days to appeal or protest the value the district deemed appropriate.

For Kyle resident Michael McLaurin, understanding the value of his home gave him the platform to dispute the appraisal.

“One of my neighbors lives in a home identical to mine, but with additional square feet, but my home was appraised thousands of dollars higher than hers,” McLaurin said. “The system isn’t perfect and I always urge my neighbors to really study the value of your home.”

McLaurin said his home was previously appraised with a fireplace, which was never an interior addition to the home when he purchased it. If ignored, the fireplace could have potentially affected his home insurance rate.

McLaurin said use of the drone technology was not beneficial to the assessment of his home, but he understands the district’s need to assess property with such a large area to cover. 

“I just want to see more consistency with the system,” McLaurin said. “People really need to do their research to make sure the appraisal is accurate.”

Before the taxing entities of the county can reevaluate the tax rates, the appraisals must be submitted and on file, Valle said. It is the first step in determining tax rates.

“The job is very important for the county,” Valle said. “It’s a responsibility like no other. This county has grown exponentially and new technology helps make the process more smooth for us.”

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