Texans to fight to keep sales prices of land, homes and offices private

By Jan Buchholz
Austin Business Journal
Originally published Dec. 1, 2014

A coalition of powerful business and real estate organizations are lining up to oppose any legislative attempt next year to require the mandatory disclosure of sales prices of Texas properties.

Texas currently is one of about a dozen states that does not require mandatory sales price disclosure. Austin Business Journal reported about the hot topic two years ago before the last legislative session.

The Texas Association of Business, North Texas chapter of NAIOP, Texas chapter of the International Council of Shopping Centers, Texas Association of Builders, Texas Self Storage Association, Texas Association of Realtors and Texas Hotel & Lodging Association have formed the Coalition for Equal and Uniform Taxation in opposition to mandatory price disclosure.

David Margulies, a spokesman for CEUT, said the group is not a registered political action committee and will not actively lobby on the issue.

“The other side has been very vocal and we’re answering those claims,” Margulies said.

The group, which said it is working “to protect equal and uniform taxation,” will use its own government affairs people to fight attempts to change the current law, Marguilies said.

In the past some appraisers, particularly those employed by county appraisal districts, have lobbied for mandatory price disclosure to aid in the proper valuation of real property — especially high-ticket buildings lacking comparable sales — but until now have received little support from lawmakers.

The issue gained traction earlier this year when some homeowners complained to county commissioners and city councils about rapidly rising residential tax bills and blamed part of the problem on undervalued commercial properties.

The debate has spawned an organization named Real Values for Texas, which lists some of the alleged discrepancies on its website.

For example, Real Values for Texas cited the sale in 2012 of a large hotel in Austin for $103 million, but the property was valued by the county at $64 million.

In the CEUT press release, Margulies said changing the law will “hurt the Texas economy and has the potential to raise taxes for many Texans.”

He said both commercial and residential property owners have ample opportunity under the current law to protest their property values and tax bills.

Mandatory price disclosure, he said, is only necessary in certain states to compute real estate transfer taxes, which Texas does not require.