WF Broker says higher property tax wouldn't hurt housing market

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Early voting begins Monday in Wichita Falls on seven bond propositions totaling $131 million. If all seven pass, how will it affect the housing market?

Those who live in Wichita Falls would definitely notice a rise in their property taxes. There would be a 16 cent property tax increase. That's equivalent to $180 a year on a $100,000 home.

But Owner and Broker at Hirschi Realtors Danny Steed thinks the housing market will be just fine.

"We've got a very active, very vibrant real estate market right now since the beginning of the year," Steed said. "We've seen a lot of activity."

The Wichita Falls market is healthy. Demand is high, interest rates are low, and property values are up.

"Is it going to cause them to not purchase? I doubt it," he said. "Will they purchase a little less than they wanted to? Possibly."

He said there's no perfect time to raise taxes, but with interest rates so low there might not be a better time than right now.

"We certainly want to do everything we can to maintain or grow our tax base, our jobs, our economy," Steed said. "And I think in order to do that some of these things probably need to pass."

He said property taxes will be high, especially after the school district passed a bond in 2015 and the county in 2017, but added that Wichita Falls is still one of the most affordable places to live in the country.

C.E.O. of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce Henry Florsheim admits property taxes would be higher than he wants but said it has to be done to grow the city.

"If you look at the communities that are growing in the state of Texas, they're the ones with the highest taxes," Florsheim said. "They're investing in themselves, which gives people a reason to be there."

"I think how this affects the housing market is in the eye of the beholder," Steed said.

"If you're proud of this city and you want this to be a great city, these are things we have to do or we're going to continue to fall behind," Florsheim said. "In fact, we'll start to lose population."

Steed said if Wichita Falls' population starts to shrink, that will mean fewer people to pay property tax leading to an even bigger increase.

Florsheim said that, right now, Wichita County is not in the top 25 of highest-taxed-counties in the state.

He said that could change, but added that the city has to find a way to grow its workforce.

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