On Monday, the City of Austin filed suit against the Texas Comptroller's Office over the state's ad-valorem tax system.

On Monday, the City of Austin filed suit against the Texas Comptroller’s Office over the state’s ad-valorem tax system.

The end of sales price non-disclosure might be near, if the suit filed by the City of Austin against the Texas comptroller’s office is any indication. Austin Mayor Steve Adler, who submitted the 10-page suit on Monday, argued that the ad-valorem taxation system is unconstitutional because it isn’t “equal and uniform.”

Texas is one of the few states that, instead of relying for sales figures for tax purposes, employs an appraisal system. However, with skyrocketing values for residential properties in Travis County, commercial valuations haven’t grown nearly so much. It’s becoming a big problem, the suit suggests.

“The lack of sales disclosures has made it nearly impossible for appraisal districts to comply with their statutory and constitutional duty to assess all properties at market value so that taxation is equal and uniform,” the lawsuit states.


Selling your home can be a complicated project. Here are 25 ways you can make the process easier.

Selling your home can be a complicated project. Here are 25 ways you can make the process easier.

Selling your home can be difficult, say the pros at Guardian Mortgage. Even with a great Realtor and a beautiful property, it can take a long time. And the more time that passes, the lower an offer may be.

Do you want to get your house sold quickly and get the price you’re asking for — or more? Then try these 25 tips from some of the best mortgage professionals in the business:


Julie Nichols grew up on the west and east coasts, so she heads for the beach to relax!

Julie Nichols grew up on the west and east coasts, so she heads for the beach to relax!

When we’re ready to buy our beach home, we’re going to talk to Julie Nichols at Guardian Mortgage. Why? Because not only will Nichols be able to find the best loan for our situation, but she also knows where all the best beaches are!

Nichols, who has lived in Texas for quite some time, is a real bright spot at Guardian Mortgage, thanks to her experience as a project manager in the IT industry and her detail-oriented approach when helping her clients find the best mortgage for whatever the situation. Whether it’s a first-time homebuyer, a luxury-level client, or a vacation home that’s been a lifelong dream, Nichols takes a nuanced approach to every situation, and it’s earned her a ton of repeat business!

Take some time to get to know Nichols and her love of coastal sunsets and find out why this dynamic home mortgage professional is this month’s “Guardian Angel.”


Alpine Dan NelsonPorchatSunset2a_edited-1.jp gIt’s that time of the year where I want a second home so much I could scream! After being in Albany last weekend, now I have Alpine to drool over: Dallas-based designer extraordinaire Dan Nelson has created an oh so comfy retreat inside a real log cabin in Alpine for a Dallas family. I honestly never thought I would want a log house — stone and metal-roofed Fredericksburg casita or clapboard Seaside bungalow, yes.

But now methinks I have a new house heartthrob: the sexy log cabin. Check out Dan’s handiwork (and a whole lot more) over on SecondShelters.com… (more…)

YFZ Ranch

You’ll recall the hullabaloo caused by the raid on Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, which precipitated the arrest and conviction of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs on charges of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault. Women in long prairie-style pastel dresses with whole hoards of children and babies were loaded on buses by child welfare officials after reports of underage marriages came through.

While the 2008 raid and investigation cast a spotlight on the YFZ Ranch and the small West Texas town just south of San Angelo, it did more to uncover the foreign lifestyle the fundamentalist Mormon followers had on the 1,600-acre property, including the several log homes surrounding the 3-story temple on the compound, which housed many families (some of which were allegedly polygamist, though that is yet to be confirmed). It also cast a glaring light on the shortcomings of the state child protective services, but that’s a whole different subject entirely.

Polygamist Retreat

Still, we’ll have to see what will actually happen to the ranch, as some YFZ residents (a pilot who frequently flies over the site estimates between 10 and 80 followers still remain) have made efforts to pay the ranch’s lofty outstanding tax bills.

What we’re wondering is, if the state is successful in its attempts to seize the ranch, what will it become? I think it would be an interesting investment for anyone who wants to start a camp or commune, maybe even a self-sustaining farm. One thing is for sure: Thanks to the shale gas and domestic drilling boom, there’s a shortage of available housing in West Texas, and these units could be an interesting addition to the mix. Texas Monthly writer Katy Vine has a few ideas:

After the property has been vacated, law enforcement will begin taking inventory and the compound will be sold. This raises the question, Who will buy it? Oil-field companies needing housing? A group needing a religious retreat facility? Some in town have imagined a boy’s home or some other nonprofit purchasing the land—situations that would prove problematic for the local school district, which has grown to depend on the ranch’s taxes for 5 to 10 percent of its budget. A few, noting the original watchtower and the community-living structures, have even proposed a minimum-security prison. That would be one way to circumvent a marketing challenge.