Lower My Property Taxes


Have you been wondering “How can I lower my property taxes?” Let’s find out if you may qualify!

Lowering your property taxes isn’t a particularly difficult process, but it is a process nonetheless. And with upfront expenses like a potential assessment of your property, it may be a case of “you need money to save money.” But if you the market was more inflated at the time of your home purchase than it is now, lowering your property tax will be beneficial in the long run!

Step 1: Most Common Reason to Try to Lower Property Taxes

The most likely case for lower property taxes is that you bought your house at a time when the economy was doing much better. At that time, you would have paid more for your home than it would be valued at now. Because of the higher price tag, you naturally paid more in taxes. That was all well and good in 2006, but now it’s time to reevaluate and save yourself some cash.

If this is the case for you, congratulations! You most likely qualify for lower property taxes. See a tax lawyer or property assessor to confirm.

Step 2: Other Scenarios to Lower Taxes

If the market wasn’t particularly stronger at the time of home purchase, there are still some other scenarios that could lower your property tax:

People will often find out about strict building limits on their property after moving in. If you’ve been denied a major renovation that would have increased market value, you can use that in a case to lower property taxes. Sure, you won’t have the gazebo and pool house you wanted, but you’ll have smaller tax bills!

Other property qualifications include anything you’ve learned about the lot since moving in. If the lot has poor drainage, is prone to a certain kind of natural disaster, or similar factors, you could be eligible for a discount.

Step 3: Back-Up Plan

None of these scenarios really fit your situation? That’s okay. There are a few more simple tricks that could land you lower property tax:

You can go to the Town Hall and request your property tax card. This is just a record the city has on your property: how many bedrooms, how much you purchased at, any major renovations, and so on.  Often, there are simple errors on the card that could be jacking up your tax rate. Request your card and spot any discrepancies. You won’t even have to pay for a new property assessment; the town is obligated to provide you one to remedy their error.

Step 4: Back-Up  to the Back-Up Plan

If there are no errors on your property card, then you can also request to see comparable homes in your area. If you have a neighbor with the same number of bedrooms or approximately as much land, see how much they’re paying in property tax. If it’s significantly less, you can investigate why and likely lower your own taxes in the process.

(Article continued after the jump.)

Lower Property Tax Flowchart2 Lower My Property Taxes

Tip for Tax

Whenever you get an appraiser to the house – whether you hired one or one was provided by the city – you should make a point to walk through the house with him or her. A lot of the factors that could help your case are often hidden. It’s a lot easier to notice the new windows than it is a slightly warped ceiling. Just make sure to point out the bad and the good. You don’t want to be the annoying complainer tagging along.

Here are some miscellaneous tips to lower your property tax.

When Not to Bother

Now that we’ve discussed all the tips and tricks to lower your property taxes, we should go ahead and throw in a disclaimer: It is possible that a property tax appraisal could backfire on you.

It’s not very common for property tax to go up after a new assessment – barring any major renovations – but it is possible.

The more likely scenario, however, is that there will be sneaky zoning codes your house doesn’t qualify for. You could have someone inspect your house to try to lower taxes, and then find out you don’t have proper handrails on your stairs and need to install new ones.

The best way to dodge the zoning code bullet, and expedite the whole reappraisal process, is to hire a tax lawyer. He or she will be able to assess the house for specific qualifications before you even begin the arduous process. An attorney will cut out all the steps and tricks you would otherwise have to do yourself. And the money you save on taxes will outweigh how much it cost to hire legal consultation.

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Home Staging: How to Stand Out in Every Season


There’s a lot of good information about outdoor home staging and curb appeal out there. Therefore, I decided to round up the best of the best, add a little of my own advice, and give our readers some home staging tips for every season. Why the focus on the outdoors? Because if your home isn’t appealing from the outside, you won’t get anyone inside.

No matter what the weather, here’s how to make your home stand out from the rest.

Spring Style

spring home staging 300x202 Home Staging: How to Stand Out in Every Season

Make your front yard pop with vibrant, colorful plants. Since spring can be rainy and gray, colorful plants will add some liveliness to your home. Plant some blossoming and/or colorful trees and flowers, like pink Dogwood trees, Birds of Paradise, Gladiolus, and Larkspur. Check out our post on flowers for curb appeal for more suggestions.

Take a walk along your front walkway and driveway and check to see if there are any cracks in the concrete. Repair these cracks and get rid of any oil stains, as they can be eyesores for potential buyers.

Have a sturdy tree? Add a tree swing. This can be a simple, inexpensive project that stirs adoration and nostalgia in prospective buyers, especially those with small children.

Summer Love

summer home staging 300x200 Home Staging: How to Stand Out in Every Season

Now that you have beautiful, blooming plants in your front yard, maintain them. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, and water your yard. A green lawn means more green in your pocket from buyers, so make sure to do your due diligence to keep your grass looking sprightly. The best time to water your lawn is early morning, around 3AM, because the water pressure is highest and the water will have a chance to soak into the ground before the sunlight causes it to evaporate.

Trimming back your trees, bushes and hedges is also important, as you don’t want unruly foliage hiding features of your home. Remember: trim trees from the bottom up, and plants from the top down. This doesn’t only go for the front yard, but all around your house. Excessive plant growth can keep light from coming into the home.

Lastly, turn your patio into an outdoor dining area. Set out a small table and a few chairs to show the versatility of the space and the enjoyable weather of the area.

Fall Fever

fall home staging 300x200 Home Staging: How to Stand Out in Every Season

With the arrival of fall comes the falling of foliage, so make sure to rake up your leaves on a regular basis. Also, continue to keep an eye on bushes and hedges, trimming and shaping them when needed.

Refrain from putting Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations outside your home this year, and keep it to the bare minimum inside as well.

Lastly, light a fire to set the scene. After all, there’s nothing more welcoming than a trail of smoke billowing from a cozy home on a chilly fall day.

Winter Wonderful

winter home staging 300x200 Home Staging: How to Stand Out in Every Season

Now that you don’t have much plant maintenance to do, focus on keeping paths, porches, and driveways clear. Shovel and de-ice all outdoor areas of the home so that prospective buyers can easily explore them.

Similar to the fall, keep outdoor holiday decorating to an absolute minimum. A string of lights and a holiday wreath are acceptable; just make sure to keep it minimal and tasteful.

Keep seasonally appropriate potted plants at your front door. Poinsettias will give your front porch a burst of holiday color, but make sure to put them inside at night as they don’t do very well in cold weather. Other popular winter plants include Camellias, Evergreen Holly, Snowdrops, and Hellebores.

By implementing these seasonal ideas when you decide to put your house on the market, your home will stand out and catch many a prospective buyer’s eye. Sprucing up your home depending on the season can do wonders for curb appeal, and can result in more green in your pocket!

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Buyer Activity Picking Up in 2014

By Mike Bearden

1Q2014graphs Buyer Activity Picking Up in 2014

According to the most recent Current Market Conditions national grass roots survey conducted by HouseHunt.com, home prices continue to rise in most areas of the country with 92% of the communities surveyed showing year over year price appreciation up from 91% last quarter and 83% one year ago. Our members surveyed indicated that home price appreciation is actually gathering steam with over 42% of the communities surveyed reporting double digit annual home price increases compared to only 31% in the fourth quarter of 2013 and 29% one year ago. According to NAR, housing prices are expected to rise between 5.5% and 6% in 2014. The increase in prices being reported may be temporary because of the very low amount of housing inventory currently on the market and the up-tick in buyer activity.

HouseHunt member agents are reporting a big increase in buyer activity in the first quarter with 72% of the markets reporting increased buyer activity compared to 56% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Seller activity remains sluggish so far in 2014 with only 45% of the markets reporting increased seller activity compared to 44% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Repeat buyers once again dominated the most active buyer segment with over 79% of the markets reporting repeat buyers were the primary drivers of activity compared to only 21% first time buyers. Investors and all cash buyers continue to hurt the number of first time buyers who are able to purchase a home as sellers generally will select the offers from the most qualified and largest down payments assuming the offering prices are similar.

HouseHunt’s random survey of member-agents conducted in the first quarter of 2014 found the following:

92% of the local markets surveyed reported home price increases over the last year with 42% of the markets reporting home price increases in excess of 10%, an increase of 11% from last quarter and a 13% increase from the first quarter of 2013.

Activity increased in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the previous quarter. Buyer activity increased in 72% of the markets in the first quarter compared to 56% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Buyer activity decreased in 13% of the market and remained unchanged in 15% of the markets. Seller activity increased in 45% of the markets compared to 44% in the fourth quarter of 2013, while 28% of the markets reported a decline in seller activity and 27% reported no change.

Home buyers reported the main reasons for purchasing were still low interest rates and rising home values. Consumer surveys report there is a high level of confidence that today is a good time to invest in a home. Because of increased homeowner equity, it is expected that many new buyers will be repeat buyers that will need to sell their home before they can buy. Our survey reports that in 79% of the markets, move up buyers are the primary drivers of activity. Good economic news, low interest rates and increasing prices are the primary reasons for activity. Population and job growth were also factors in certain communities especially in Texas, California, Florida and the Carolinas.

First time buyers continue to lag with only 21% of the markets reporting strong first time buyer activity compared to historical standards of between 35% and 40%. Additionally, first time buyer activity may continue to decrease in 2014 with rising interest rates and rising home prices as well as tougher mortgage qualification rules. Repeat buyers and investors represented primary activity in 79% of the markets.

Housing inventories remain tight in the first quarter with 76% of the markets reporting that there is a tight supply of homes for sale compared to only 68% in the previous quarter and 71% one year ago. Conversely 24% of the markets reported an ample supply of homes for sale compared to 32% last quarter and 29% one year ago. Overall, it is still a sellers market with 77% of the markets reporting that sellers are receiving greater than 95% of asking price and multiple offers were common place in 83% of the markets. Homes are selling slightly faster in the first quarter with 60% of the markets reporting that homes are selling in less than 60 days compared to 57% in the fourth quarter of 2013. Short sales and foreclosures represent more than 15% of the inventory in only 16% of the markets, slightly less than last quarter where 17% of the markets reported over 15% of inventory as short sales and foreclosures.

Our 2014 first quarter survey results are a clear indicator that housing prices continue to rise and that buyer activity is beginning to pick up. NAR has reported declining pending home sales for the last eight months, but our survey is showing increased buyer activity in the first quarter so we expect an up-tick in pending home sales.

Consumer confidence is high on both the buyer and the seller side so we expect that home sales activity will work its way back to normal from historic standards in the next year or two. Most predictions have home sales estimates at 4.9-5.1 million units selling in 2014. There are a few potential obstacles to continuing on the pathway to normal; those being employment, rising interest rates and rising home prices, as well as tougher qualification rules and regulations for obtaining a mortgage. Most experts, including the National Association of Realtors, predict home prices to rise about 5.5-6% in 2014.

HouseHunt’s In-Depth Chart Analysis
2011 2012 2013 2014
Quarter 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 1st
Buyer-Seller Ratio
More Buyers 40% 39% 55% 58% 64% 76% 67% 57% 51% 61%
More Sellers 36% 35% 23% 21% 15% 10% 17% 26% 21% 19%
About Even 26% 26% 22% 21% 21% 14% 16% 17% 28% 20%
Avg. Time On Market
0-60 Days 22% 30% 31% 39% 40% 46% 65% 65% 57% 60%
Sold in 60 Days Plus 78% 70% 69% 61% 60% 54% 35% 35% 43% 40%
Unsold Inventory
Good Supply 68% 62% 48% 47% 34% 29% 24% 26% 32% 24%
Tight Supply 32% 38% 52% 53% 66% 71% 76% 74% 68% 76%
Annual Price Appreciation
Up 0-5% 21% 24% 26% 29% 35% 33% 21% 18% 29% 24%
Up 5-10% 6% 9% 7% 19% 16% 21% 24% 17% 31% 26%
Up 10% Plus 7% 7% 10% 6% 18% 29% 43% 54% 31% 42%
Unchanged 15% 10% 9% 18% 9% 7% 6% 5% 3% 3%
Negative Appreciation 51% 50% 48% 28% 22% 10% 6% 6% 6% 5%
Buyer Activity
Repeat / Move-up / Investors 71% 71% 73% 67% 73% 74% 81% 85% 78% 79%
First-time Buyers 29% 29% 27% 23% 27% 26% 19% 15% 22% 21%
Ask vs. Sale Price
Less Than 95% 58% 54% 44% 38% 37% 31% 30% 23% 30% 23%
More Than 95% 42% 46% 56% 62% 63% 69% 70% 77% 70% 77%
Multiple Offers?
Yes 65% 66% 76% 76% 77% 87% 88% 91% 87% 83%
No 35% 34% 24% 24% 23% 13% 12% 9% 13% 17%

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5 Roofing Options


Before you raze the roof you might want to raise some money to pay for the project. Replacing a roof is the most costly home replacement project – more than siding, windows or doors – with a tab of more than $21,000 according to a cost versus value report from Remodeling magazine. But if your house really needs a new roof, the good news is that you can make back around 60 percent of your investment when selling.

HouseLogic, in conjunction with the National Association of Realtors, offers advice on what products to look for if a roofing project pops up on your to-do list. Here are 5 roofing options, their benefits, drawbacks, and eco-friendly factors.


composite roof 300x225 5 Roofing Options

Also referred to as asphalt shingles, these are the most popular residential roofing material in the country. Most consist of a fiberglass mat between two layers of asphalt with tiny stones embedded in the top to protect the shingles from the sun’s rays. Architectural shingles are a more durable choice because they don’t have slits where debris can collect. They also create a more textured look, which many people prefer.

  • Benefits: Good fire resistance, with some types also suitable for hail regions.
  • Drawbacks: Not as long-lasting as other products and need periodic cleaning to remove moss and debris.
  • Eco-friendly factor: Some types have a reflective coating that can lower cooling costs.


wood roof 300x200 5 Roofing Options

These look nice but are losing popularity because of rising concerns about fire safety. Shakes are thick and have a rough, split surface; the shingles are thinner and sawn flat. Both must be installed over spaced boards so the roofing can dry.

  • Benefits: Shakes and shingles perform well in mostly dry climates, and thicker shakes can stand up to severe hail.
  • Drawbacks: They need to be treated to be fire-resistant, and the wood must be cleaned periodically to remove moss and lichen in wet climates.
  • Eco-friendly factor: Worn-out roofing can be recycled into mulch if it hasn’t been treated with pesticide.


metal roof 300x200 5 Roofing Options

Metal roofing isn’t just for commercial and farm buildings anymore. Panels come in long and wide pieces so they reach without a seam from the ridge to the gutters. Some people go the title route because they can resemble wood shingles or shakes.

  • Benefits: They last long, are fire resistant and capable of standing up to strong winds and hail. They also require little maintenance.
  • Drawbacks: Tile roofs have numerous grooves that trap leaves, so they need frequent cleaning.
  • Eco-friendly factor: Styles with reflective coatings can reduce your cooling costs.


clay roof 300x200 5 Roofing Options

These are mainly seen on Spanish-style homes in the Southwest and Florida. In addition to traditional styles, clay and concrete tiles also can resemble shakes or slate.

  • Benefits: They last a long time and are well-suited to dry climates.
  • Drawbacks: Since they’re heavy, your roof structure must be able to support the weight. They can be chipped and damaged by hail.
  • Eco-friendly factor: The tiles can be reused or recycled into new building materials.


slate roof 300x200 5 Roofing Options

Because slates hang from nails and aren’t glued down, they’re best suited for steep roofs that shed water quickly.

  • Benefits: Slate can last for decades, doesn’t burn and sheds snow and rain well.
  • Drawbacks: It’s an expensive option that likely will take a professional to repair. The roof structure also must be able to support the heavy weight.
  • Eco-friendly factor: Slate is a natural material, and slicing it into shingles requires little energy.

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How To Prepare For A Home Loan


Need to know how to prepare for a home loan? The first step in getting ready to purchase a home is making sure that your credit is up to par; otherwise a home loan could be out of your reach. To put it simply, the worse your credit score, the more you will pay in fees, closing costs, higher PMI costs and interest.

Here are the five factors that make up your credit score:

prepare for a home loan 208x300 How To Prepare For A Home Loan

1.      Payment History: 35%

Are your payments on time? Do you have delinquencies or charge-offs? Paying off your debt on time and/or in full will have the greatest positive impact on your credit score.

2.       Outstanding Credit Card Balances: 30%

This factor is the ratio between your outstanding balance on your credit cards and your available credit. In a perfect world your balances would be zero, but in reality, life happens.  Your balances should definitely be below 30% of your available credit limit for a period of 3 or more months prior to the purchase of a home.

3.       Credit History: 15%

How long have you had your credit history established? Someone with a longer past will always be a better candidate for a home loan.

4.       Type of Credit: 10%

Rather than just having credit cards, you have auto loans and/or a mortgage mixed in.  Always having a couple of different open accounts shows responsibility.

5.       Inquiries: 10%

Each inquiry can damage your score up to fifteen points, so be careful with why you are having your credit checked. Note: self inquires have no impact on your score.

How to Prepare for a Home Loan 300x300 How To Prepare For A Home Loan


Many think that their credit score is correct, but there may be items hiding on your report that you have not seen before, including mistakes from credit bureaus or errors from a creditor. Increasing your score or correcting these mistakes can take months or even years. This is something that you should start as soon as possible.


Ordering your credit report is the first way to spot if your credit needs fixing. By law you are able to order a free credit report from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion once a year. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to order your free reports. If your report does in fact need to be amended, you need to go to the right source. Sometimes it may mean disputing errors on your report.  If so, go to http://www.ftc.gov/ and you can learn the correct steps needed to file a dispute.


The next step in obtaining a home loan is to start getting your paperwork in order. The loan company is going to want to see your last two years of tax documents, last four weeks of income statements, the prior two months’ bank statements, asset verification forms, and other personal documents. Obtaining these documents can take a while, so knowing where to look for them and having them ready is important. After all, you wouldn’t want this to hold up your loan approval process.

After you’ve completed these steps, you are now ready to find a loan officer and start your house hunting process! Good luck!

To see your infographic on preparing for your home loan, click here.


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