Protesting Your DFW Property Tax Assessment!

2019 Property Tax Assessments Are Out in the DFW Metroplex

Each year, respective counties send out new tax bills for the year to be paid by December. In Texas, one of the biggest expenses for homeowners are property taxes. We don’t have state income taxes therefore most local entities such as the county, school districts, county hospitals, cities, and sometimes county community colleges are paid through the property taxes.

The 2019 property tax assessments from various counties in the metroplex have been mailed out and guess what? Your property taxes have increased. What most people are seeing are a significant increase in their home value assessment (the property tax assessment value is getting really close to market values which we will talk more about later) by their counties. You have until May 15th to protest your assessment online or in person.


Did you know fewer than 20% of homeowners appeal their property taxes? This means they may pay more than their fair share. The best thing to do is to protest them. Why? You have a chance of lowering the amount you pay in property taxes by simply saying that this is too much. Let’s make a change in 2019 until the state government decides how they want to handle the property tax reform, shall we?

Here are tips to protesting your property tax assessment:

Make sure you have filed your homestead exemption.

You have until April 30th to file your homestead exemption on your personal property.

You have until April 30th to file your homestead exemption with your county to save money on property taxes. You only have to do this once but if you failed to do it the January – April AFTER you purchased your home, this is your chance to do it. A homestead exemption helps you save money on your property taxes. It also prevents your tax value from increasing more than 10% per year.

Check for mistake’s on the county’s description on your home.

Does the county have your 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, formal dining home at 1805 square foot as 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms at 1925 square feet? It happens all the time and no one corrects it. A lot of county information is incorrect but we let it ride as gospel. Check your county’s website to make sure the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and lot size are accurate in their assessment.

Gather Your Comps

It is important to keep up with the values of homes in your neighborhood. Most time people don’t realize what other homes are selling for. To gather more accurate comps, connect with a local REALTOR to see what homes have sold for within the last 3 months or 90 days in your neighborhood.

You can enter your address below to determine what your home is worth.

Highlight Flaws in Your Home

Check high and low for the flaws.

We all love our homes and it is the best thing since slice bread. However, this is the time to really compare your home and get very judgmental about it. If you notice most of the homes that have sold nearby all have hardwood or some wood-like material, while you have carpet everywhere, take pictures of it. If you know your home is in need of a new roof or has foundation issues, take pictures and/or provide the quotes of those repairs that are needed.

Consider the negative influences near your nearby such as backing up to a busy street, water tower behind the home, or being on the main road to the neighborhood. Those are items that an appraiser would dock off your home’s market value when it is time for you to sell, use it to your benefit for your property taxes. P.S. I am not saying to trash your home or that you won’t ever be able to sell your home, this is to save money on your property taxes. I sold a home in Fort Worth last year and my clients ended up getting the property for less because the appraiser thought it was in a less desirable location than other homes comparable to it. It’s a gorgeous home and my clients love it. However, they got a win to buy it at a lesser price.

New Construction Woes

In most cases for newly built homes, there is a tricky line for homeowners. The previous year, your home was assessed based on land value. Now, it is based on the value of the home with a home on it. Check the price of the home that they county says your home is. Is it higher than what you paid for the home? Is it higher than what new homeowners can build the same exact home for? If your answer is yes to either one, that’s your protest. Texas is a non-disclosure state. In order to win the battle on the first one, you may have to show what you paid for your new home. The other option is to stop by the builder’s office (if they are still in the neighborhood) or pull it offline and see what your home is being sold for at base price. Is it lower than the county’s assessment? If so, your argument here is that your home has been lived in. No one is going to purchase your home for higher than what they can build their home for. Then take pictures of the things that you got standard (if you built) with the builder and haven’t updated.

Check Local Real Estate Trends

In addition to talking to your REALTOR for comps, ask them to pull the real estate trends. Homes have the potential to increase in value or appreciate. However, a property can decrease in value or depreciate. Is the price of homes sales decreasing in your zip code? A decrease in value can be caused in excess supply, lack of demand, deflation or other reasons that take away the property value. Home values fluctuate so don’t get nervous. It is just something for you to know and use in your protest. Homes appreciate normally 2-4% a year. Find out what is happening in your local area. It can be completely different from Aubrey to Crowley.

It can be that your area isn’t appreciating as much as the county THINKS it is appreciating.

Things to Remember

The county’s assessor’s don’t see the inside of your home. They can only see the outside of it. This is the time to show and prove what your home looks like. Use the knowledge that you have from the tips above to help lower your tax assessment value which in return lowers your property taxes. After you have your evidence, schedule an appointment with the county to present your case OR present the information online. It is important to protest annually to minimize your property taxes.

If you need any assistance in gathering information to present your case, contact me at via email at atfowler@newavenuerealty.com.

Let’s Talk About Affordability

 

Rising home prices have many concerned that the average family will no longer be able to afford the most precious piece of the American Dream – their own home.

However, it is not just the price of a home that determines its affordability. The monthly cost of a home is determined by the price and the interest rate on the mortgage used to purchase it.

Today, mortgage interest rates stand at about 4.5%. The average annual mortgage interest rate from 1985 to 2000 was almost double that number, at 8.92%. When comparing affordability of homeownership over the decades, we must also realize that incomes have increased.

This is why most indexes use the percentage of median income required to make monthly mortgage payments on a typical home as the point of comparison.

Zillow recently released a report comparing home affordability over the decades using this formula. The report revealed that, though homes are less affordable this year than last year, they are more affordable today (17.1%) than they were between 1985-2000 (21%). Additionally, homes are more affordable now than at the peak of the housing bubble in 2006 (25.4%). Here is a chart of these findings:

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000 | Keeping Current Matters

What will happen when mortgage interest rates rise?

Most experts think that the mortgage interest rate will increase to about 5% by year’s end. How will that impact affordability? Zillow also covered this in their report:

Homes More Affordable Today than 1985-2000 | Keeping Current Matters

Rates would need to approach 6% before homes became less affordable than they had been historically.

Bottom Line

Though homes are less affordable today than they were last year, they are still a great purchase while interest rates are below the 6% mark.

Is Moving Up More Affordable in 2018?

If you are considering selling your current home, to either move up to a larger home or into a home in an area that better suits your current family needs, great news was just revealed.

Last week, Trulia posted a blog, Not Your Father’s Housing Market, which examined home affordability over the last 40+ years (1975-2016). Their research revealed that:

“Nationally, homes are just about the most affordable they’ve been in the last 40 years… the median household could afford a home 1.5 times more expensive than the median home price. In 1980, the median household could only afford about 3/4 of the median home price.

Despite relatively stagnant incomes, affordability has grown due to the sharp drop in mortgage rates over the last 30 years – from a high of over 16% in the 1980s to under 4% by 2016.

Of the nation’s 100 largest metros, only Miami became unaffordable between 1990 and 2016. Meanwhile, 22 metros have flipped from being unaffordable to becoming affordable in that same time frame.”

Here is a graph showing the Affordability Index compared to the 40-year average:

Moving up Is MORE Affordable Now Than Almost Any Other Time in 40 Years | Keeping Current Matters

 

The graph shows that housing affordability is better now than at any other time in the last forty years, except during the housing crash last decade.
(Remember that during the crash you could purchase distressed properties – foreclosures and short sales – at 20-50% discounts.)

In DFW, the median sales price for February 2018 was $248,250 which is an increase of 5.6% of appreciation whereas normal appreciation rates are between 2-4% per year.

There is no doubt that with home prices and mortgage rates on the rise, the affordability index will continue to fall. That is why if you are thinking of moving up, you probably shouldn’t wait.

Bottom Line
If you have held off on moving up to your family’s dream home because you were hoping to time the market, that time has come. Let New Avenue Realty at Keller Williams help you learn your options to your future. Contact us at 972-813-9788 or atfowler@NewAvenueRealty.com.

From “I Do” to Sold

LRE Social Blog

Newlyweds are saying “I do” to each other, and equate to over half of first time home buyers that are also saying “I do” to their dream homes. It makes sense! When you put two hearts together, the time comes to find a home to nourish that love. A home that brings two of your places together, and makes it one. If you and your spouse are ready to fall in love with the perfect house together, here are five tips to make sure the process goes smoothly, and you come prepared.

1. YOUR WEDDING BUDGET: Your wedding is a one-time event that shouldn’t be less than what you’d imagine. It’s a beautiful time to put all of your dream pieces together. However, it’s best to sit down and find out ways you can shift the budget to help with your down payment for a home, if you plan to purchase. The average couple spends a little over $20,000 on their wedding. Even a savings of $5000 from your wedding budget can help with owning the perfect home. 

2. WEDDING GIFTS: Wedding bliss comes with wedding gifts. Let’s admit, one of our favorite times during the wedding season is all of the gifts that come pouring in! Have any friends or family pitching in cash? Save that to put towards your down payment. And depending on the generosity of your gifts, you can even open an account dedicated to your down payment, that friends and family can gift to. 

3. GET PRE-APPROVED: One of the least brought up conversations in relationships is the credit and financial history of your soon-to-be spouse. Get together with a lender to go over both of your histories to know what needs to be done to put you guys in a position to own together. In some cases, only one person can get approved, while the other can’t. If you want to put both of your incomes toward the cost of the house you want, talking to a lender early on can ensure you are prepared to make the right moves.

4. THE RIGHT AGENT: That’s where I come in! For starters, I can connect you with a lender to ensure you guys are being watched over from the best recommendations. And it’s an absolute joy to take the stress out of buying a home for my newly wed couples. We all know how stressful, although joyous, a wedding can be. To then jump into buying a house shortly after, well, it’s certainly a lot to get through. But I can guide you through all of the steps to make sure you end up with a house you love. Just think of me as a wedding planner, but for homes.

5. NOW THERE’S TWO: Although some spouses are a match made in heaven, loving and adoring the same exact things, often times that’s not the case with most couples. You still are your own persons, and have your own tastes. This is where the first step to comprise really begins. Spending a good bit of money on a place you both will love and call home. A happy marriage starts with a happy home, so be sure you both are considerate of each other’s wants and needs in style and location, so you both are happy with the home you end up getting. 

Let’s start the chat to happily ever after. Visit newavenuerealty.com to search for your future marital home.

Rent is Increasing! Why You Should Look Into Homeownership.

Recently, WFAA released an newcast stating that the rent rates in DFW are increasing month-to-month.  All across DFW, you will see development happening. The developments are for new businesses, new apartments, and/or new homes. There isn’t too many places where you don’t see that in DFW. Currently, Dallas is the land of opportunity.

The newly published April 2017 Dallas Rent Report shows prices across the city remain above the national media. On average, one-bedroom apartments were leasing for $1,260. Two-bedroom units were renting at $1,760.

There are thousands of people relocating here monthly (so yes, people are coming here and they need a place to live). As a Realtor, I have people coming from everywhere. It isn’t a specific place that people aren’t migrating from. They come from the East and West Coasts, other Southern states, and the Midwest.

My biggest motto from a financial standpoint is that if you are paying $1000+, you should consider purchasing a home. Why? The benefits of being a homeowner outweighs being a renter. Let’s take this example.

Let’s say your monthly rent is $1200/month. For a whole year, you’ve paid $14,400 in rent. However, if you had a home that was $1200/month for your mortgage, you could have tax benefits from property taxes, mortgage insurance, mortgage interest. The $14,400 you spent with a mortgage with a tax benefit of $3,600 means that you technically have paid $10,800 for a whole year. That’s basically $900/month. What’s even better? You are build equity while buying and equity = wealth. With an apartment, you are making the developer/builder wealthy.

Homeownership is an investment. Yes, you can invest in stocks and bonds but homeownership provides you a tangible asset. Homeowners in DFW have seen an increase in their asset of 8.5%. That’s extra money that you have made and all you did was live in a home. Can you say the same about your apartment? I live with the financial sense of wanting to make money while I sleep. That is EXACTLY what a home does. Check out the graph below on the status of DFW homes from 2014 to now.

The market has went from homes having a median sales price of $162,000 to $255,000 in June 2017. That’s a $93,000 increase in 3 years. Listen to me, that’s $93,000 increase in THREE years. Imagine what you could do with $93,000 if you had a home to sell. That’s 20% down for a move-up home and some left over to decorate and pay Navient (Sallie Mae’s wicked sister) a nice chunk of change.

Bottom Line: You could look into purchasing a home instead of renewing your lease. Homeownership can be a condo, townhome, or a house. The first two really depends on a person’s lifestyle and what they prefer. All three can be considered a home that you’ve purchased. I think condos/townhomes are great for turning into easy rental properties whether short term (Heard of Airbnb or Homeaway?) or in the long-term. You have to weigh your options and what works best for you. The easiest way to get to the McMansion is to purchase your first home and build yourself and your wealth from there.

For more detailed information for your personal situation, contact me at 972-813-9788 or atfowler@NewAvenueRealty.com.

 

 

New Communities in Dallas Suburbs

 

As a Realtor, I love finding new communities in Dallas suburbs before information is released publicly. It helps my clients beat the rush and get in on pre-sale prices. Now some communities may have an advertisement or two but not all model homes have been built in the community. Recently, I had a relocation buyer looking to build a home in the suburbs. She saw a community but wasn’t quite sure of it. We both went to visit it and discovered the three builders in the community.

From there, I went on to find more information and which builder fit her price range. We not only found one that did her price range but one that had their upgrades as standard options for her. We had pre-sale prices and even after she built the home out the way she wanted, we still didn’t reach her max budget. Can we say SCORE?!

If you follow me on Instagram, you will see that I absolutely love new construction. It is my thing for my clients. I like resale as well but I understand that some clients like the thrill of new. I understand. It is like the difference between new car sales and used car sales. The used car sales are great for your budget and timing. The new car sales come with a sticker price. It is somewhat equivalent to it. I love to help clients build their “perfect” home for now. I placed “perfect” in quotations because there is no such thing as a perfect home.

Below are a few communities that I have found while out on the search as well as some from my builder relationships. If you are interested in any of these communities, contact me. Seriously, I always get the question of whether you need an agent purchasing new construction. YES! The sales representative represents the builder. Who is representing you? It’s free representation for you so why not have someone represent you. Agents can help you negotiate the deal, understand what will help you in the resale process (if you are building), and explore your options. You don’t want to get caught up in the beauty of the model homes. Yes, they are staged well and you will be ready to hand over your whole checking account but an agent can help you weigh the pros and cons. So if you are interested in buying a built home in a community or building one, contact me to walk you through it.

Lakewood Hills – “New Carrollton” as they as describing it but it’s basically the Lewisville area outside of Castle Hills on Josey Lane and 121 Toll. As of now, I know Pulte Homes and Beazer Homes will be in this community.

Willow Wood – Located in McKinney. Builders in this community consist of First Texas Homes, Chesmar Homes, and Bloomfield Homes.

Winn Ridge – Dirt hasn’t even been built up yet for this community but it is coming soon. The only builder I can find so far is Centex Homes. Pre-sales start in summer 2017!

Windhaven Crossing – Townhome communty by DR Horton and Megatel Homes Pricing has yet to be revealed.

Melton Ridge – Located in the Stonebridge Ranch community in McKinney. New homes are being built by American Legend and Shaddock Homes.

Hollyhock Frisco

Merion at Midtown – Dallas

There will be more updates as I receive them about new communities in North Texas. To sign up to receive more information, head to my website at NewAvenueRealty.com.

Find out where I head on Wednesday with my #WOWWednesday posts.

 

Millionaire to Millenials: Buy a Home

Last week, CNBC ran an article quoting self-made millionaire David Bach explaining that not purchasing a home is “the single biggest mistake millennials are making”because buying real estate is “an escalator to wealth.”

Bach went on to explain:

“If millennials don’t buy a home, their chances of actually having any wealth in this country are little to none. The average homeowner to this day is 38 times wealthier than a renter.”

In his bestselling book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” Bach does the math:

“As a renter, you can easily spend half a million dollars or more on rent over the years ($1,500 a month for 30 years comes to $540,000), and in the end wind up just where you started — owning nothing. Or you can buy a house and spend the same amount paying down a mortgage, and in the end wind up owning your own home free and clear!”

Who is David Bach?

Bach is a self-made millionaire who has written nine consecutive New York Timesbestsellers. His book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” spent 31 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He is one of the only business authors in history to have four books simultaneously on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and USA Today bestseller lists.

He has been a contributor to NBC’s Today Show appearing more than 100 times, has been a regular on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNBC, CNN, Yahoo, The View, and PBS, and has been profiled in many major publications, including The New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, People, Reader’s Digest, Time, Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, Glamour, Family Circle, Redbook, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Investors’ Business Daily, and Forbes.

Bottom Line

Whenever a well-respected millionaire gives investment advice, people usually clamor to hear it. This millionaire gave simple advice – if you don’t yet live in your own home, go buy one.

As a fellow millenial, I have the same sentiments. It’s another staple to your portfolio that happens to be the place you spend a lot of time at. Buying a home doesn’t mean a single-family in the suburbs. It can be a condo or a townhome as well.

How Does Housing Help Build Family Wealth?

20160531-Share-KCM

 

What’s the best thing about owning a home? Making money while you sleep and who wouldn’t love that? June is National Homeownership and we will celebrate the good things about homeownership.

As the economy continues to improve, more and more Americans are seeing their personal financial situations also improving. Instead of just getting by, many are now beginning to save and find other ways to build their net worth. One way to dramatically increase their family wealth is through the acquisition of real estate.

For example, let’s assume a young couple purchased and closed on a $250,000 home in January. What will that home be worth five years down the road? 

Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists every quarter. They ask them to project how residential prices will appreciate over the next five years. According to their latest survey, here is how much value that $250,000 house will gain in the coming years.

How Does Housing Help Build Family Wealth? | Keeping Current Matters

Over a five-year period, that homeowner can build their home equity to over $40,000. And, in many cases, home equity is large portion of a family’s overall net worth.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to better your family’s long-term financial situation, buying your dream home might be a great option.

Do’s and Don’ts…..Do YOU know?

do and dont

Today I am combining my blog post with my Tuesday tip because these tips needed to be in one place. The topic for today is the “do’s and don’ts” of home buying.

Every one has heard that you can do this and you can do that but before you do something in particular, talk to the lender. There are so many interesting stories that I can tell you about when it comes to real estate and why things happen. Here are a few do’s:

DO pay your bills on time. You are asking a lender to loan you thousands of dollars guaranteeing that you will pay them back. They only thing that is attesting to your payment history is your credit report. 

DO know where you stand financially. Do you know you budget and how much you can really afford? Yes your total income may be $100K but when you include all debts, is it financially reasonably to purchase the home with a $2500 mortgage. Better yet, does your credit help those claims? Home buying is there for you to struggle to make the payment just to have an asset. Lenders look at the overall credit picture and you must look at your whole financial picture too. Do you have bills that you pay that doesn’t show on the credit report like cell phone bill, daycare costs, tithes, charitable contributions, etc? 

Now on to the don’ts.

DON’T QUIT YOUR JOB. I know you really dislike Susie and the rest of the staff. Which one do you want more? The house or a new job? Just put a time limit on how long you can deal with Susie and the rest of the staff until you make your home purchase. 

DON’T DEPOSIT YOUR MATTRESS MONEY. Yes, Grandma Jane still hides her savings under the mattress so you developed that habit. Now you have maybe $1,000 or 2 under the mattress. You need it for your down payment or closing costs. When purchasing a home, you need a paper trail. You won’t be able to be use these funds because there is no paper trail on where it came from. I’ve actually had a client do this. Thankfully we were able to get the seller to pay the closing costs he needed. But that’s an FYI. Start “seasoning” your money into an account months before purchasing your home. Plus, it may be safe to have it in an account instead of your home. That’s just my opinion though. 

One of my trusted lender partners do a great job discussing the do’s and don’ts of buying a home. Check out the video below from Mortgage Express.

 

Now that you know what to do to get started, you can contact the lender to get started and be crowned a homeowner in your new home!

 

 

Your new avenue awaits you….let’s find it here. #CrowningHomeowners

Brand New Home. Marriage Proposal. Birthday Celebration

Crowned Homeowners - Johnson

 

This weekend has been an adventurous one. It started with a closing for my client at 2pm. Now when I met Billy last year, at our consultation he mentioned that when he purchased this house he would propose to his girlfriend. I was like “Oh my gosh. That would be amazing!”. Then the woman in me came out and was like, “are you strictly choosing the house or will she be with us?” He informed me she’d be along the journey. Woman we are very particular and our happily ever after home has to be perfect for us. Yes, the notion of gifting a house as part of the proposal is sweet but it can’t be any house.

So I was determined to help find the happily ever after home. Mind you Chelsie did not know about this part. She just knew they were going to buy a house and she wanted a yard big enough for a pool. I was able to say let’s do a master-planned community that has a pool to keep costs low for you guys.

It was then that we found a community outside of Lancaster, Texas that fit their needs. Building a new home takes so time so I completely forgot about Billy’s gesture. It wasn’t until Friday came and he was like today is my birthday. What a sweet birthday present as you close on your new home! He looks at me again and was like today is the big day. Suddenly I remembered and was equally excited.

He had the place and time down to the science. The place: their new home. The time: Around 6:30 to 7 when all their family members would be present to come view the home. 

I rushed back down to be apart of this experience because it feels good when your clients welcome you into their world outside of buying their home. I always say real estate is so much more than opening doors and collecting a check. There is a bond that is built and my clients really become my extended family after the transaction.

Here are some snippets from that day which included a brand new home, marriage proposal, and a birthday celebration! What a Happy Day!!!

Billy and Chelsie

That’s 1 down and 35 to crown in 2016. Congratulation Billy and Chelsie! Wishing you guys the best to come with your future marriage, family, and now home.