Buying & Taxing - Improperly By Travis Central Appraisal District

By Will Anderson – Managing Editor, Austin Business Journal May 3, 2019, 3:03pm CDT Updated May 3, 2019, 4:19pm EDT

There are new worries of rising property valuations because county tax appraisers in Austin allegedly received price data on homes sold in 2018. The Austin Board of Realtors claims that CoreLogic Inc., the vendor that runs the organization's multiple listing service for buying and selling homes, sold MLS data to the Travis Central Appraisal District.

In a May 2 message to members, ABOR said the "unauthorized access" to its MLS data was "newly discovered." That could be a contractual violation, according to ABOR.

ABOR said it told CoreLogic to stop sending data to TCAD. CoreLogic said May 2 it complied with the order and "instructed TCAD to destroy previously shared data" and provide proof that it was destroyed, according to ABOR.

"We are very concerned and share your frustrations," ABOR said in its message to its roughly 13,000 members. "We are committed to fixing this situation and protecting the trust you and your clients place in the MLS. Our talks with CoreLogic are continuing and we will report to you the outcome of all actions taken with regard to holding the vendor accountable."

TCAD officials and executives from CoreLogic could not be immediately reached for comment. ABOR declined an interview request but said in a statement it is "exploring all options to correct this situation," and that "actions will be taken to ensure full accountability from all parties enabling the unauthorized exploitation of MLS data."

ABOR is also encouraging anyone who believes MLS data was used during property tax appraisal appeals, whether in Travis County or elsewhere, to email databreach@abor.com. It's unclear if this information could be accessed by the public or journalists. Some worry property valuations will rise notably because TCAD may have access to fresh sales data — something that doesn't normally happen in Texas, which doesn't require disclosure of real estate prices.