Fort Bend County CAD valued a home here, but the house is missing

SESHADRI KUMAR
123 Terry Street, Sugar Land
Arbitrary home values, outlandish appraisals and tone deaf review boards are the staples of home appraisal horror stories, but here comes a Sugar Land homeowner with a “ghost house” appraisal.

Not that there was a ghost in the house, but there was no house at all on the lot.

Apparently, the appraiser made up a three-bed room house, with attached garage, patio and porch and assigned a value of $257,370 to the building and $115,280 to the land.

But, the problem is the lot 123 Terry Street in Sugar Land is empty and there is no structure on the land.

Leon Anhaiser, a long time Sugar Land resident who lives in Hall Lake off of Brooks Street, has also a home on Venice street in the same neighborhood.

He asked for comparable sales report from the Central Appraisal District to see why his house had been valued $59,920 higher.

The Fort Bend County CAD provided him with three comparable valuations in the area. One home was appraised $22,530 higher, another home was appraised $11,530 lower compared to previous year and one was valued at $257,370, but he found that there was no house at that address.

Anhaiser took a picture of the vacant lot and went to the Appraisal Review Board asking for an explanation as to the disparity in valuation and how non-existent home could be compared to his house.

The ARB had no answer and reduced the property value of Ahaiser's house as requested.

According to a representative of the CAD, who was present at the review board hearing, the CAD could legally assign value to an imaginary structure, Anhaiser said.

Anhaiser found another anomaly in the valuation of another waterfront property.

The property 518 Venice street is now vacant and the adjacent property owner with a house at 523 Venice Street bought this land.

The CAD combined both the lots and valued the land at $351,000 ($182,250 + $168,750) and increased the home value from $346,130 to $389,850.

Other comparable houses on the same street had their home value lowered.

Anhaiser was wondering if the property owner knew about the “ghost house” on the lot and in how many other cases, the CAD could have valued a non-existent house.

Out of curiosity, this newspaper contacted the owners of the vacant property at 123 Terry Street and the homeowners confirmed that they have appealed against the valuation of the non-existent property.

The CAD had the same thing a year earlier and the valuation was reduced to zero after appeal.

Further inquiry revealed that there was a house on the site, which was demolished two years ago.

Many houses have been demolished and rebuilt in this subdivision because the structures were built in 1950s.

THE CAD provided the comparable sales report on April 13, 2021.

The valuation record pulled from the CAD website on June 3, 2021, showed the vacant land was valued at $115,280 for 2021 same as in previous two years. In 2019 there was a house and it was valued at $224,460. In 2020, the home value was reduced to zero after the homeowner appealed.

In 2021, the demolished home was valued at $257, 370.

When this newspaper checked the CAD records on June 4, 2021, the CAD had already corrected the record, showing the home value at 123 Terry St. as zero.