As homeowners in the Tarrant County portion of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex start to receive startling tax notices regarding increased property values, they may be at a disadvantage if they want to protest those soaring values to the Tarrant Appraisal District. 

Here is a breakdown of the looming battle over home prices in the Fort Worth area, according to an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Last week, TAD officials reported that the value of residential property in Tarrant County has increased about 14% this year, which could trigger a significant number of protests.

The lawsuit in Travis County District Court has put a clamp on historical data that can be used as factual evidence in a protest hearing with the appraisal district.

“This is a big threat to taxpayers in Texas and especially to taxpayers here in Tarrant County,” said Bill Aleshire, an Austin open-government attorney who was hired to try to pry loose the information on behalf of a client.

“We’re dedicated to fighting this,” Aleshire said. “We’re not backing down one bit."

Homeowners in the area started getting notices last week and they have until the end of May to file protests of the increases. However, filing a protest requires comparing the data on comparable home values, which are now tied up because of the lawsuit, which was filed by the appraisal district's software licensing vendors. 

According to CoreLogic, the home price index for Tarrant County, as well as other counties in the area, drastically increased over the last year. In March 2015, Tarrant County’s home price index was at 5.75%, currently it’s at 8.57%.

But that's a far cry from the 14%-16% determined by the valuation software providers chosen by Tarrant County for the appraisals, which include Thomson Reuters. The software vendors have refused to disclose their valuation methodology for the increases, going so far as to sue to keep their methods private, according to the article. 

This is the home valuation numbers CoreLogic provided to HousingWire:

Click to enlarge

CoreLogic Home Price Index DFW

(Source: CoreLogic)

Todd Clark, Tarrant Appraisal District’s attorney says “the appraisal district will do whatever is ordered by law.”