Local non-profit supporting homeowners gets tech-muscle from property tax technology firm
As home values appreciate and tax notices go out in Bexar County, it is becoming a pressing concern for low-income homeowners facing increasing property bills that exceed their ability to pay. For a homeowner with just enough financial resources to put food on the table and pay the mortgage, or for whom foreclosure is a looming possibility, they are confronted with the stark reality that unpaid property taxes could lead to the loss of their home. At this point, many grapple with the question: “Do I pay my property tax or my mortgage?”
Homeowners are often unaware of available help with protesting property taxes or are unable to afford professional representation. To solve this problem, two organizations native to San Antonio are aligning to help low-income homeowners protest their appraised values and reduce their property tax liability.
Finding synergies to help more homeowners
My City is My Home (MCMH) and Home Tax Shield (HTS) are partnering to provide free and reduced-cost access to property tax protest services for all homeowners in Bexar County.
MCMH is a local advocacy group that helps renters and homeowners find and keep their homes. taxes.It does so by assisting renters in finding affordable homes and assisting homeowners in protesting their property MCMH accomplishes both of these by pairing the renter or homeowner with a volunteer licensed real estate agent who guides the homeowner through the entire appeal process at no cost.
HTS is a San Antonio-based AI-powered platform that provides homeowners full-service property tax representation at an affordable price. In 2020, HTS delivered homeowners an average savings of $433 with a success rate of 87% across 8 Texas counties. This year, HTS expanded coverage to more than 30 Texas counties serving nearly 70% of the state’s population.
MCMH was founded in 2018 by Rich and Jennifer Acosta, president and treasurer, respectively. The couple moved to San Antonio in 2017 as new real estate agents – Rich recently out of the Air Force and Jennifer attending UT. “We initially pursued civic participation as a means to network, but we quickly learned about the inequality in housing, witnessed up-close the economic challenges faced by low-income renters and homeowners, discovered how we could make a difference, and found the inspiration to charter MCMH,” said Rich.
Since their start, they have helped more than 570 homeowners lower their property taxes by reducing tax appraised values by more than $7 million. The organization operates on volunteer labor and donations and receives no government funding.
Demand is high for MCMH’s services. It currently operates with only 20 volunteers, of which each can help about ten homeowners per year. As more homeowners come to MCMH, it has become more likely that they would need to turn some away; however, by leveraging HTS’ technology and AI platforms, MCMH can serve as many homeowners as need help.
A socially-conscious application for AI
Seeing the opportunity to help more homeowners and leverage its AI platform to benefit the underserved, HTS is providing full protest support to MCMH volunteers. “We’re promoting the democratization of access to AI in homeownership. Our technology should be accessible to all homeowners regardless of socio-economic status,” said Craig Hancock, CEO of HTS.
HTS is equipping MCMH’s volunteers with its AI-generated property tax analysis to determine a fair tax value and make their case to the appraisal review board. It will significantly cut the time an MCMH volunteer has to spend on each home, allowing MCMH to exponentially increase the number of low-income homeowners it will be able to help in 2021.
About 75% of homeowners that contact MCMH are not ‘low-income.’ HTS’ affordable pricing model makes it more economic to serve these clients through the HTS platform, which will allow MCMH to focus its efforts on those that do not have the funds to pay their property taxes or cannot afford to hire a tax professional.
As part of the agreement, HTS has committed to make a donation to MCMH for every homeowner referred to HTS by MCMH. The additional capital will also boost MCMH’s ability to serve more San Antonio residents. “Having an affordable partner to send our clients to – one that handles the laborious work of protesting property taxes at an exceptional level but a fair price – gives us significant peace of mind. We look forward to helping thousands of residents each year instead of a few hundred,” said Rich. Until now, MCMH was constrained to serving Bexar County, but with the support of HTS, there is now a clear path for MCMH to serve other communities across Texas.
Learn more about My City is My Home:
Jul 12th 2021
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