Why Texas is spending more on unclaimed properties than any other state

Texas is using about $1 billion a year to buy unclaimed Texas property, according to a state audit released this week.

Texas has about 10 times as many unclaimed homes as the next-highest-spending state, New Mexico, which spent $1.2 billion on properties last year.

That’s more than double the $1 million a year it spent in 2009 and more than triple the $600,000 spent in 2008. 

But the audit did not address whether the state was able to identify the property owners or recover property taxes.

The state said it is working on a plan to make unclaimed real estate transactions more transparent.

Texas’s property tax is among the lowest in the country, at 6.5% of adjusted gross income, according with the National Association of Realtors.

Property taxes account for about a quarter of the state’s budget.

The auditor’s office said it expects to complete the audit by the end of the year.