Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Want to Save Money? File Your Homestead Exemption

Here's an email I sent to all my clients recently. I was going to post this soon after said email was sent but then I got busy. I'm very important you see. Thus, I get busy from time to time. And when I say busy, I mean forgetful.

If you purchased a home in 2009, please read the following information on Homestead Exemptions that I copied from the Dallas Central Appraisal District website and applies to the entire state of Texas.

"A property tax exemption excludes all or part of a property's value from property taxation, ultimately resulting in lower property taxes. To qualify, the property must be designed or adapted for human residence and the homeowner must own the property on January 1 of the year application is made. The person claiming the exemption must reside at the property on January 1 and cannot claim a homestead exemption on any other property. If more than one individual (not a married couple) owns the property, each separate individual must make application if they reside at the property. Exemptions are allocated according to percent of ownership interest the applicant has in the property. The exemption application must be completed, notarized and include a driver’s license or social security number and date of birth."

If you have not already done so, please go to the relevant district website below where your property is located. For most of the websites you can search for your property and then click a link to print out a homestead exemption form. I have also included the phone numbers for each of the appraisal districts should need to contact them directly. And of course, you are always welcome to call me if you have any questions about the homestead and other exemptions.

Dallas Central Appraisal District

Collin County Appraisal District

Tarrant County Appraisal District

Denton Central Appraisal District
(The Homestead Exemption application link is at the bottom right of the Home page)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Forbes List of Cities Where Homes Have Lost the Most Value

I love Forbes' lists. This is a nice list of cities across America that have lost the most value since the "Peak" which is some magic formula using 2004 values and 3rd Quarter of 2009.

I'm not surprised by any of the cities on this list. I'm also not surprised Texas isn't on any of them. I am surprised however that the Northeast cities have done so well during this housing crisis since that area tends to appreciate quite a bit. What does that mean? In my opinion it means that area has remained in demand. Most likely because that area has been built out much more than almost all other cities on this list. Kudos to you Northeast US!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Having Problems With Your Appraisals?

This is a pretty good article explaining how appraisals are killing more deals in today's real estate market. It's not the appraiser's fault...every time. And yes, listing agents will resort to begging in order to get their listing sold. Something we shouldn't be proud of but it happens all the same.

Consider an example where a home has been listed for 280 days and they finally get the home under contract. Until the appraisal comes in at $50,000 below the agreed contract price. If the seller doesn't drop the price by $50,000 then the buyer must come up with the $50,000 difference or else the deal falls apart. Guess what happens 98% of the time? The deal falls apart. It's heartbreaking for both buyer and seller and the lender. But how do we know if the appraiser really knows what they're doing? They're human and can make mistakes, right?

Fortunately, I have not had any appraisal problems but I have certainly had a few appraisers call me and ask for extra comparables. But the article points out a big problem and that is the lender will sometimes hire an appraiser not familiar with the area in which the subject property is located. Appraisers are similar to real estate agents in that both tend to have areas of focus. Most Dallas agents can't speak elementary about Ft. Worth real estate and vice versa. So then why is an appraiser any different? Yet Ft. Worth appraisers appraise Dallas real estate all the time. And there are many disagreements.

It's also odd that an appraiser will ask for a copy of the contract and, therefore, see the agreed sales price, before they've stepped foot in the property? Isn't this like cheating? I've never understood this practice. Aren't appraisals supposed to be unbiased reports? Wouldn't seeing the sales price before seeing the property make the report biased?

Whatever. My buyers get good deals and don't have appraisal issues and neither do my sellers. I guess that means I'm doing something right.