SUP: Application of Property Value Impacts Standard (2023)

[Adapted from Owens, Land Use Law in North Carolina (4th ed. 2023)]

North Carolina cities and counties report that the question of a proposed special use permit project’s impact on adjoining property values is the single most difficult standard for their boards to apply.

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A significant portion of this difficulty is that evidence on property-value impacts is frequently offered by lay witnesses. When asked how evidence is typically presented on property-value impacts, North Carolina cities and counties report that testimony from neighbors and the owner or developer of the property are by far the most common sources of this evidence.[1] This in large part explains the amendment to the zoning statutes in 2009 that limits the use of opinion evidence from nonexpert witnesses on the issue of property-value impacts.[2]

Where expert testimony is offered to establish property-value impacts, it is important that the witness be properly qualified as an expert and that an adequate foundation be established for expert opinions that are offered. In Mann Media, Inc. v. Randolph County. Planning Board,the court noted that a rigorous standard is necessary to establish a foundation for opinion testimony regarding property-value impacts.[3] The applicant’s witness on property-value impacts was a professional appraiser; the objecting neighbors presented testimony from a contractor and a real-estate agent.The court noted that all three witnesses offered only speculative opinions about values without supporting facts or examples and ruled that such evidence cannot be the foundation of a finding of adverse impacts. Similarly, in Humane Society of Moore County. v. Town of Southern Pines, the court held that testimony by an appraiser as to the property-value impacts of a proposed animal shelter was based on speculative opinions rather than facts and could not be the basis of a finding on value impacts.[4] In Dellinger v. Lincoln County, the court held that testimony from two appraisers could not be used to make a determination about property-value impacts of a solar farm because the first used as a comparable a solar farm without similar setback, landscaping, and buffering being imposed on the proposed farm and the second appraiser offered only a personal opinion unsupported by quantitative analysis.[5]

By contrast, the court in Leftwich v. Gaines, a case for damages resulting from the improper actions of a zoning official, allowed testimony from a plaintiff with experience in real-estate matters to be used as a foundation for setting property values in the context of assessing damages.[6]

Conclusory statements and speculative comments by neighbors cannot properly be the basis of findings relative to property-value impacts. In Sun Suites Holdings, LLC v. Board of Aldermen, a case involving a special use permit to build an extended-stay hotel, speculative comments by a neighbor and a real-estate agent about property-value impacts were held to be insubstantial evidence on the effects of the hotel project on surrounding property values.[7]

When credible quantitative evidence on property-value impacts is presented, that evidence cannot be rebutted by generalized contradictory testimony, be it from opposing experts, lay witnesses, or the board itself. In PHG Asheville, LLC v. City of Asheville,[8] the applicant presented uncontroverted expert testimony regarding property-value impacts. The court held the board could not find the expert’s methodology inadequate based on only its own lay opinion. In Ecoplexus Inc. v. County of Currituck, the applicant presented expert testimony on the absence of adverse property-value impacts to neighbors of a proposed solar farm, while the neighbors’ expert on property-value impact testified only to his opinion of the “highest and best” use of the property, which was not a permit standard (and he offered no supporting studies).[9] In Little River, LLC v. Lee County, the applicant presented expert appraisal testimony on property-value impacts, and the opponents’ expert addressed potential impacts more broadly than the ordinance standard, which only addressed impacts on “adjoining and abutting” properties.[10] In Innovative 55, LLC v. Robeson County, the court held that once an applicant presented expert testimony on the absence of adverse property-value impacts, speculative lay opinion and a neighborhood petition were not sufficient evidence to deny a special use permit for a solar farm.[11] In Dellinger v. Lincoln County, the plaintiffs presented expert testimony from two qualified real-estate appraisers that a solar farm as proposed would not have an impact on neighboring property values. The court held that this established a prima facie entitlement to approval absent contrary substantial, material evidence.[12] In Weaverville Partners, LLC v. Town of Weaverville Zoning Board of Adjustment,[13] the plaintiff challenged the denial of a special use permit for an apartment complex. The plaintiff’s properly qualified real-estate appraiser testified that he had conducted a market analysis of similarly situated neighborhoods in the town, reviewed sales history around the site over the previous ten years, conducted interviews with nearby purchasers, and reviewed the architectural plans. The opposing testimony addressed two factors: (1) countywide data regarding the effect of apartments in depressing rates of property-value appreciation and (2) whether nearby sales were less than the asking price. The court held neither established a violation of the ordinance standard of substantial depreciation of value. Likewise, testimony regarding the incongruity of the project design with neighboring properties was based solely on personal observations and had no quantitative link to a substantial depreciation in property values.

The fact that evidence of property-value impacts is available and not presented can seriously undermine the case of the party with the burden of establishing (or contesting) that fact. In SBA, Inc. v. City of Asheville,[14] the plaintiffs appealed the city council’s denial of a special use permit for a telecommunication tower. The Asheville ordinance required a conclusion that the project would not substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting property. The plaintiffs presented a property-value impact study to demonstrate compliance with this standard, but the city staff expressed concern that the study addressed other towers and neighborhoods, not the neighborhood in question. The court was particularly concerned with the plaintiffs’ failure to address the property-value impacts of an existing telecommunication tower a short distance from the proposed site that potentially affected the same neighborhoods. The court thus held that the plaintiffs “simply did not meet their burden of demonstrating the absence of harm” to neighboring property values.[15] Similarly, in American Towers, Inc. v. Town of Morrisville,, the ordinance required the applicant to show the project would not substantially harm neighboring property values.[16] The court upheld denial of the permit based in part on the board’s finding that the appraisal information submitted by the applicant failed to address potential impacts in settings similar to the case at hand. By contrast, the court in PHG Asheville, LLC v. City of Asheville, found that the board could not reject substantial evidence from expert testimony in the record based on its own assessment of that testimony’s adequacy.[17]

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On occasion, a zoning regulation will include a standard regarding property-value impacts that is similar to the standards discussed above but different in some critical aspect. In one example, Dismas Charities v. City of Fayetteville,[18] the standard employed was that the use “allows for the protection of property values.” The court held that this was not the equivalent of the typical standard that the use “not substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting property” for two reasons. First, it was not limited to impacts on adjoining or abutting properties. Second, allowing for “the protection of property values” is not the same as substantially injuring adjoining property values. The court held that this standard only required that the applicant show it has incorporated “reasonable” elements in its plans that provide for the benefit of the protection of property values generally as opposed to showing adjacent property values would not be harmed.[19]

[1]. Sixty-four percent of jurisdictions responding to a 2005 SOG survey reported that testimony from neighbors was typically offered to establish property-value impacts in special use permit hearings. Fifty-nine percent of the jurisdictions reported testimony from the owner or developer was typically offered on this point, 39 percent reported evidence was typically presented from a real-estate appraiser, and 24 percent reported testimony from real-estate agents.

[2]. G.S. 160A-393(k)(3).

[3]. 356 N.C. 1, 565 S.E.2d 9 (2002).

[4]. 161 N.C. App. 625, 589 S.E.2d 162 (2003). The appraiser testified that data on impacts of comparable facilities were not available and had based his testimony on seven case studies based on inquiries of appraisers, assessors, brokers, developers, and landowners near other objectionable land uses.

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[5]. 266N.C. App. 275, 832 S.E.2d 172 (2019). The case was subsequently remanded for reconsideration in light of PHG Asheville. 374 N.C. 430 (2020).

[6]. 134 N.C. App. 502, 511, 521 S.E.2d 717, 724–25 (1999), review denied, 351 N.C. 357, 541 S.E.2d 714 (2000). See also Huff v. Thornton, 287 N.C. 1, 213 S.E.2d 198 (1975); Zagaroli v. Pollock, 94 N.C. App. 46, 379 S.E.2d 653, review denied, 325 N.C. 437, 384 S.E.2d 548 (1989) (allowing real-estate-developer testimony relative to property value).

[7]., 139 N.C. App. 269, 533 S.E.2d 525, review denied, 353 N.C. 280, 546 S.E.2d 397 (2000).

[8]. 374N.C. 133, 839 S.E.2d 755 (2020).

[9]., 257 N.C. App. 9, 809 S.E.2d 148 (2017).

[10]. 257 N.C. App. 55, 809 S.E.2d 42 (2017).

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[11]. 253 N.C. App. 714, 801 S.E.2d 671 (2017). The court reached the same conclusion for the same reasons on evidence regarding traffic impacts on public safety.

[12]. 248 N.C. App. 317, 789 S.E.2d 21, review denied, 369 N.C. 190, 794 S.E.2d 324 (2016). The court subsequently addressed the property-value evidence to the contrary and found it insufficient. 266 N.C. App. 275, 832 S.E.2d 172 (2019). This second case was then remanded for reconsideration in light of PHG Asheville. 374 N.C. 430 (2020).

[13]. 188 N.C. App. 55, 654 S.E.2d 784 (2008). The site was across the street from an apartment building and adjacent to a commercial strip on one side with single-family residential development on the other sides.

[14]. 141 N.C. App. 19, 539 S.E.2d 18 (2000).

[15]. Id. at 27, 539 S.E.2d at 23.

[16]. 222 N.C. App. 638, 731 S.E.2d 698 (2012), review denied, 743 S.E.2d 189 (2013). The board had found the appraisal information insufficient for several reasons. In reviewing impacts on neighboring subdivisions, the submitted study had only looked at subdivisions built after the adjacent telecommunication tower was present, while in this case the adjacent subdivisions were already in existence. (The study also failed to consider potential loss in value due to reduced “curb appeal.”)


[17]. 374 N.C. 133, 839 S.E.2d 755 (2020). Here, the board was not resolving conflicting evidence since there was no evidence presented to the contrary; it did have concerns, however, about the reliability of the expert testimony.

[18]. 282 N.C. App. 29, 870 S.E.2d 144 (2022). The plaintiff applied for a special use permit to construct a halfway house for prisoners transitioning into society. The property was a vacant lot in the downtown area.

[19]. The court found that the record included evidence that showed the proposed use incorporated elements to protect property values generally, and the attractive, commercial-grade building would have high-maintenance standards. As no contrary competent, material, and substantial evidence was presented, the plaintiff was entitled to permit issuance.


How to protest property taxes and win Texas? ›

At an informal protest, you simply need to present data on your home to your appraisal district. In most cases, you can simply visit your appraisal district office and wait to meet with an appraiser. The number one recommendation for winning an informal protest is simple – be kind.

Is there a limit on how much property taxes can increase in Texas? ›

The appraised home value for a homeowner who qualifies his or her homestead for exemptions in the preceding and current year may not increase more than 10 percent per year.

What is Section 23.23 of the Texas property tax code? ›

Texas Property Tax Code Sec 23.23 limits increases of the total assessed value to 10% from year to year if the property is under homestead exemption. This 10% increase excludes any improvements added by the property owner. This section does not limit market value increases.

Do you pay taxes on market value or appraised value Texas? ›

Generally, all property must be taxed based on its current market value. That's the price it would sell for when both buyer and seller seek the best price and neither is under pressure to buy or sell.

Is it worth protesting property taxes in Texas? ›

Consequently, as a homeowner, you're likely to pay more taxes than what is fair at some point. That's a reason to protest your tax appraisal in Texas. Statistics from Dallas County in Texas reveal that about 50% of tax protests are usually successful and that those who protest typically save an average of $600.

What can I say to lower my property taxes in Texas? ›

File a Notice of Protest
  1. Your contact information, address, and property description.
  2. Your appraisal district account number.
  3. Reasons for protesting.
  4. Your opinion of your property's value and any additional information.
  5. The type of hearing you would prefer (in-person, by telephone, or a written affidavit)

Is a 10% property tax increase legal in Texas? ›

State law limits the taxable value of an owner's primary residence from rising more than 10% in a given year.

At what age can you stop paying property taxes in Texas? ›

Property Tax and Appraisals

The Texas Tax Code, Section 33.06, allows taxpayers 65 years of age or older to defer their property taxes until their estates are settled after death.

Is there a 10% cap on property taxes in Texas? ›

HOMESTEAD LIMITATION (aka Residence Homestead “Cap”)

For residence homesteads, the annual increase is limited to 10% more than the previous year's appraised value plus and new improvements. For example: In 2021, a property with the residence homestead has a market value and appraised value of $100,000.

What is Section 92.109 of the Texas Property Code? ›

Section 92.109 - Liability of Landlord (a) A landlord who in bad faith retains a security deposit in violation of this subchapter is liable for an amount equal to the sum of $100, three times the portion of the deposit wrongfully withheld, and the tenant's reasonable attorney's fees in a suit to recover the deposit.

What is Section 51.005 of the Texas Property Code? ›

(d) Any money received by a lender from a private mortgage guaranty insurer shall be credited to the account of the borrower before the lender brings an action at law for any deficiency owed by the borrower.

What is Section 53.256 of the Texas Property Code? ›

Before construction begins, Texas Property Code Section 53.256 requires that the builder provide the name, address, and telephone number of each subcontractor and supplier the builder intends to use on the project.

How much can appraised value increase in Texas? ›

Technically, a Texas homestead's assessed value is limited to the lesser of either its market value or the sum of the market value of any new improvements and 110% of the appraised value of the preceding year. The 10% increase is cumulative.

Is market value usually higher than appraised value? ›

If buyers are few and far between when you list your home, there's a chance the market value will be lower than the appraised value. On the other hand, if you're seeing a ton of interest in your home from multiple buyers, you may find that the market value is higher than the appraisal value.

Do you have to pay taxes on property you sell in Texas? ›

Is the Sale of Property in Texas Taxable? Yes, when you sale property in Texas it is treated just like an investment property. If you sell for profit, then anything on top of what you paid for the property is treated as capital gain.

How much does it cost to protest property taxes in Texas? ›

We charge an up-front flat fee for representation. For homes valued at less than $200,000: We charge a flat fee of $179. For homes valued from $200,001 to $500,000: We charge a flat fee of $329. For homes valued from $500,001 to $1,500,000: We charge a flat fee of $429.

Does a patio increase property taxes in Texas? ›

Yes, it does. It carries the same penalty as a regular, separate structure built in your backyard, i.e., you pay more property taxes.

Can you claim property taxes on your tax return in Texas? ›

Homeowners who itemize their tax returns can deduct property taxes they pay on their main residence and any other real estate they own. This includes property taxes you pay starting from the date you purchase the property.

How much does homestead reduce taxes in Texas? ›

As of May 22, 2022, the Texas residential homestead exemption entitles the homeowner to a $40,000 reduction in value for school tax purposes. Counties, cities, and special taxing districts may offer homestead exemptions up to 20% of the total value. Most counties in North Texas do offer this 20% reduction.

Why are Texas property taxes so high? ›

“Property taxes in Texas are so high because that's the price we pay for not having a personal income tax in this state,” Craymer said. State tax systems are usually looked at as a three-legged stool — one leg is property tax, the second leg is sales tax, and the third leg is the personal income tax.

Does a homestead in Texas lower property taxes? ›

Do I, as a homeowner, get a tax break from property taxes? You may apply for homestead exemptions on your principal residence. Homestead exemptions remove part of your home's value from taxation, so they lower your taxes.

Where is the highest property tax in Texas? ›

So where in Texas are the property taxes the highest? According to the Tax Foundation, three counties, Collin County, Fort Bend County and Travis County, have median property taxes that exceed $6,000. Collin County, which is a suburban county north of Dallas, has a median tax estimation of $6,377.

Are property taxes capped at 65 in Texas? ›

In Texas, there is no age at which you stop paying property taxes.

What is 100 property tax exemption in Texas? ›

In Texas, veterans with a disability rating of: 100% are exempt from all property taxes. 70 to 100% receive a $12,000 property tax exemption. 50 to 69% receive a $10,000 property tax exemption.

How much can a 70 year old earn without paying taxes? ›

Basically, if you're 65 or older, you have to file a tax return in 2022 if your gross income is $14,700 or higher. If you're married filing jointly and both 65 or older, that amount is $28,700. If you're married filing jointly and only one of you is 65 or older, that amount is $27,300.

Do you have to pay income tax after age 80? ›

In short, senior citizens are largely subject to the same tax requirements as other adults. There is no age at which you no longer have to submit a tax return and most senior citizens do need to file taxes every year. However if Social Security is your only form of income then it is not taxable.

What is the property tax rule in Texas? ›

The Texas Constitution sets out five basic rules for property taxes in our state: Taxation must be equal and uniform. No single property or type of property should pay more than its fair share. The property taxes you pay are based on the value of property you own less any exemptions applied.

How many acres is tax exemption in Texas? ›

How many acres do you need to be ag exempt in Texas? Ag exemption requirements vary by county, but generally speaking, you need at least 10 acres of qualified agricultural land to be eligible for the special valuation.

Did Texas pass property tax relief? ›

“The Texas House is the only chamber that passed a property tax cut bill that is germane to the special session that I called to provide Texans with property tax relief,” said Governor Abbott. “It provides more cuts to property tax rates than any other proposal at this time.

What is the new homestead exemption in Texas? ›

This bill will save every homestead $341 a year on top of the existing exemption, $454, totaling $795 per year in these exemptions.” Lawmakers in both chambers will likely approve the proposition, which will go on the November 2023 ballot.

What is Section 24.004 Texas property code? ›

24.004. JURISDICTION; DISMISSAL. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a justice court in the precinct in which the real property is located has jurisdiction in eviction suits. Eviction suits include forcible entry and detainer and forcible detainer suits.

What is Section 41.005 Texas property code? ›

41.005. VOLUNTARY DESIGNATION OF HOMESTEAD. (a) If a rural homestead of a family is part of one or more parcels containing a total of more than 200 acres, the head of the family and, if married, that person's spouse may voluntarily designate not more than 200 acres of the property as the homestead.

What is Section 24.0053 Texas property code? ›

See Section 24.0053, Texas Property Code. The officer may not require the landlord to store the property. A writ of possession cannot be issued more than 60 days after a judgment for possession is signed, and a writ of possession cannot be executed after the 90th day after a judgment for possession is signed.

What is Section 93.003 of the Texas Property Code? ›

93.003. COMMERCIAL TENANT'S RIGHT OF REENTRY AFTER UNLAWFUL LOCKOUT. (a) If a landlord has locked a tenant out of leased premises in violation of Section 93.002, the tenant may recover possession of the premises as provided by this section.

What is Section 24.007 of the Texas Property Code? ›

Sec. 24.007. Appeal. A final judgment of a county court in an eviction suit may not be appealed on the issue of possession unless the premises in question are being used for residential purposes only.

What is Section 430.001 Texas property code? ›

WARRANTIES AND BUILDING AND PERFORMANCE STANDARDS § 430.001. LIMITED STATUTORY WARRANTIES AND BUILDING AND PERFORMANCE STANDARDS. (a) The commission by rule shall adopt limited statutory warranties and building and performance standards for residential construction that comply with this section.

What is Section 92.054 B of the Texas Property Code? ›

Resident termination because of totally unusable premises.

Under Section 92.054(b) of the Texas Property Code (see below) if the premises are totally unusable after a catastrophe, the resident can terminate the lease. The owner can also terminate the lease if the premises are totally unusable.

What is Section 92.0563 of the Texas Property Code? ›

Section 92.0563 - Tenant's Judicial Remedies (a) A tenant's judicial remedies under Section 92.056 shall include: (1) an order directing the landlord to take reasonable action to repair or remedy the condition; (2) an order reducing the tenant's rent, from the date of the first repair notice, in proportion to the ...

What is Section 92.354 of the Texas Property Code? ›

Sec. 92.354. Liability of Landlord. A landlord who in bad faith fails to refund an application fee or deposit in violation of this subchapter is liable for an amount equal to the sum of $100, three times the amount wrongfully retained, and the applicant's reasonable attorney's fees.

What's the difference between market value and appraised value? ›

Market Value. An appraised value is assigned to a property by a professional real estate appraiser at a specific point in time. On the flip side, market value is a variable that's determined by larger market forces and economic conditions.

What is the difference between appraised value and assessed value in Texas? ›

The appraised value of your home represents the home's fair market value (what a buyer might expect to pay if you listed your house for sale on the market), while its assessed value is used to determine property taxes (which increase the larger that your assessed value becomes).

What adds the most value to an appraisal? ›

How to Increase Home Value for Appraisal
  • Improve your house's curb appeal. ...
  • Mow and clean up your yard. ...
  • Examine the exterior of your home. ...
  • Document all of your home upgrades. ...
  • Give your home a deep cleaning. ...
  • Patch up any imperfections. ...
  • Let the appraiser do their job. ...
  • Be open to the appraiser's questions.

How do I get a property tax break in Texas? ›

To qualify for the general residence homestead exemption an individual must have an ownership interest in the property and use the property as the individual's principal residence. An applicant is required to state that he or she does not claim an exemption on another residence homestead in or outside of Texas.

How much does Texas tax protest cost? ›

We charge an up-front flat fee for representation. For homes valued at less than $200,000: We charge a flat fee of $179. For homes valued from $200,001 to $500,000: We charge a flat fee of $329. For homes valued from $500,001 to $1,500,000: We charge a flat fee of $429.

What not to say to appraisal? ›

In his post, he lists 10 things as a Realtor (or even homeowner), you should avoid saying to the appraiser:
  • I'll be happy as long as it appraises for at least the sales price.
  • Do your best to get the value as high as possible.
  • The market has been “on fire”. ...
  • Is it going to come in at “value”?
Mar 25, 2019


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