FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) -The Tarrant Appraisal District asked for patience from property owners Tuesday, as it prepares to send out notices that are expected to show homes are worth more, even while the economy stumbles during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With offices closed, and formal protest hearings delayed, the district is warning about busy phone lines and urging owners to utilize online and written protests to contest values this spring.

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“TAD needs the public’s help,” said a prepared release, sent late Tuesday by Chief Appraiser Jeff Law.

Because appraisal districts are required to determine what properties are worth on January 1, the values owners receive will reflect a housing market and economy that was still strong.

Law’s release said that in light of the crisis, districts have asked for guidance from Governor Greg Abbott’s office about suspending or waiving certain laws, but at this time that hasn’t happened.

“Appraising properties as of the January 1st date could appear to some that TAD doesn’t care or TAD doesn’t have a heart, but that’s simply not true,” the release said.

The district plans to begin mailing notices out May 1, a month after the traditional date. Protests will be accepted for another 30 days after notices are mailed.

While notices traditionally trigger a rush of owners driving to TAD’s office in East Fort Worth, this year they could find the lobby closed, as long as stay home orders in Tarrant County remain in effect.

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Even when it opens, access is expected to be limited, masks could be required and some staff may still be working remotely.

Anticipating protests and disputes from owners facing financially difficulty, the district is recommending online protests as the easiest and safest option this year.

Accounts can be created now, at the district’s website, using PIN information from last year’s notice, or from the new one when it arrives.

Owners can look at the sales data TAD used, submit their own opinion of value and an automated negotiation can often resolve the issue.

If that isn’t sufficient, TAD says owners have the option of filing a written protest with the appraisal review board. Formal hearings however, could be delayed until late June, July or August.

For owners who still drive to TAD offices, the district expects to play a short radio broadcast for owners to listen to in their cars, with information before coming inside.

Owners who just need to file for exemptions, can also find the forms online, and mail in the application and required documents as opposed to going to TAD offices in person.

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