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.

2019 Goal: Buy a House.

As we kick off the new year, many families have made resolutions to enter the housing market in 2019. Whether you are thinking of finally ditching your landlord and buying your first home or selling your starter house to move into your forever home, there are two pieces of the real estate puzzle you need to watch carefully: interest rates & inventory.

Interest Rates

Mortgage interest rates had been on the rise for much of 2018, but they made a welcome reversal at the end of the year. According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates climbed to 4.94% in November before falling to 4.62% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage last week. Despite the recent drop, interest rates are projected to reach 5% in 2019.

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a $400,000 home while keeping your principal and interest payments between $2,020-$2,050 a month.

Excited About Buying A Home This Year? Here's What to Watch | Keeping Current Matters

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000).

Inventory

A ‘normal’ real estate market requires there to be a 6-month supply of homes for sale in order for prices to increase only with inflation. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), listing inventory is currently at a 3.9-month supply (still well below the 6-months needed), which has put upward pressure on home prices. Home prices have increased year-over-year for the last 81 straight months.

The inventory of homes for sale in the real estate market had been on a steady decline and experienced year-over-year drops for 36 straight months (from July 2015 to May 2018), but we are starting to see a shift in inventory over the last six months.

The chart below shows the change in housing supply over the last 12 months compared to the previous 12 months. As you can see, since June, inventory levels have started to increase as compared to the same time last year.

Excited About Buying A Home This Year? Here's What to Watch | Keeping Current Matters

This is a trend to watch as we move further into the new year. If we continue to see an increase in homes for sale, we could start moving further away from a seller’s market and closer to a normal market.

Bottom Line

If you are planning to enter the housing market, either as a buyer or a seller, make sure that you get connected with an agent who can help you navigate the changes in mortgage interest rates and inventory. Every market is different. If you’re in Dallas-Fort Worth, we can connect at 972-813-9788 or atfowler@newavenuerealty.com.

Source: Keeping Current Matters

Spring Into Action: Boost Your Curb Appeal

Spring is official here – which means planting and landscaping will be in full swing. These activities are not just wonderful hobbies enjoyed by millions, they are key to creating great curb appeal.

The importance of curb appeal

Curb appeal is the aesthetic charm of a property and its surroundings when viewed from the street. In real estate, first impressions make an important impact and curb appeal matters!

Most buyers form an opinion about a property before they step inside – this is valuable to remember whether your clients are buying or selling. A property with an exterior wow factor maximizes its value. At first blush, curb appeal presents itself by the condition of the lawn, trimmed trees and shrubs, planted or potted flowers, fresh mulch, and an inviting entryway.

If a buyer already feels like they are home before even stepping foot inside, sellers are ahead of the game.

Where should homeowners start when looking to boost their curb appeal?

A good overall power washing of the home, porch, garage and driveway will provide a clean slate to work from. It will also reveal whether or not a fresh coat of paint is necessary. If a home requires major repairs such a new roof, paint, driveway, siding or gutters, these are best taken care of before putting the home on the market. Most buyers don’t want to be out of pocket before they’ve even moved in. Smaller projects such as painting the trim or front door can freshen up a home as well as set the palette of your curb appeal projects. Working with the colors of a home and its natural landscape can tie in an overall impression.

What to plant?

When considering adding flower value to a property, it’s a good idea to know which flowers offer the most bang for your buck. Potted and planted annuals offer a quick and immediate fix to a home’s charm and appeal. Annuals are great for filling bare spots in garden beds, adding a pop of color to your front entry or hanging from a basket. Some annuals reseed and will pop up again the following year. Perennials are unfussy, long-lived plants which will bloom year after year. They like to be planted in spring or fall to get a healthy start.

Roses: Most traditional types of roses only have a blooming period of a few weeks. Instead of having a limited bloom time, consider Knock Out Roses. These hearty roses are low maintenance and bloom throughout spring, summer and fall.

Geraniums: These come in a wide array of colors which stay in all summer long. These colorful flowers also pack an extra bonus: their fragrant scent is natural mosquito repellant.

Petunias: Petunias look beautiful and classic in hanging baskets. They also come in a variety of colors to complement a home’s color palette.

Impatiens: These shade-tolerant plants work hard to beautify tree bases, borders and garden beds.

Marigolds: Just like their color implies, these blooms love full sun and are extremely hearty.

Violets: These perennials are purple and low growing, adding a beautiful edge to any border or bed.

Before you plant permanent landscaping plants and shrubs, head to The National Gardening Association website to see which survive best in their specific climate zone(s).

The overall physical condition of a house will be complemented by a great curb appeal. Remember, curb appeal doesn’t have to be elaborate. A freshly cut lawn, clean driveway, inviting entryway and weeded sidewalk present a home that is neat, taken care of, and respected.

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.

To List or Not List During the Holidays

 

Every year at this time, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to put their homes on the market for the first time, while others who already have their homes on the market decide to take them off until after the holidays.

Here are seven great reasons not to wait:

  1. Relocation buyers are out there. Many companies are still hiring throughout the holidays and need their employees in their new positions as soon as possible.
  2. Purchasers who are looking for homes during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy now.
  3. You can restrict the showings on your home to the times you want it shown. You will remain in control.
  4. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays.
  5. There is less competition for you as a seller right now. Let’s take a look at listing inventory as compared to the same time last year:

7 Reasons to List Your Home This Holiday Season | Keeping Current Matters

  1. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop when the holidays come. Buyers who were unable to find their dream home during the busy spring and summer months are still searching!
  2. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will continue to surge reaching new heights in 2018, which will lessen the demand for your house.

Bottom Line

Waiting until after the holidays to sell your home probably doesn’t make sense.

Sell in Demand…..DFW is in Demand.

 

If you thought about selling your house this year, now more than ever may be the time to do it! The inventory of homes for sale is well below historic norms and buyer demand is skyrocketing. We were still in high school when we learned the concept of supply and demand: the best time to sell something is when supply of that item is low and demand for that item is high. That defines today’s real estate market. This may be one of the best moments to get the absolute most from the sale of your home due to the demand. I know homeowners are great about the sale of their home but nervous about buying of their next home. My two cents is to use the profit of the sale of your home to be able to put a huge chunk into your second home.

I’ve watched sellers walk away with approximately 6 figures in selling their home. I WILL REPEAT….they walked away with approximately 6 figures from selling their DFW home. That’s an additional six figures along with their regular job. What could you do with extra income to buy the home of your dreams by selling your current home?

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors, recently commented:

“Buyer interest is solid, but there is just not enough supply to satisfy demand. Prospective buyers are being sidelined by both limited choices and home prices that are climbing too fast.”

Yun goes on to say:

“Current demand levels indicate sales should be stronger, but it’s clear some would-be buyers are having to delay or postpone their home search because low supply is leading to worsening affordability conditions.”

In this type of market, a seller may hold a major negotiating advantage when it comes to price and other aspects of the real estate transaction, including the inspection, appraisal and financing contingencies.

Bottom Line

As a potential seller, you are in the driver’s seat right now. It might be time to hit the gas.

When to Get Excited About the Housing Market

Real estate professionals get that consumers, by and large, ignore housing statistics and the market until they become involved in the purchase or sale of a home. It’s only natural then that what impacts the market is a bit of a mystery to many. What determines a buyers’ or sellers’ market? What factors influence home prices?

Of course the answers to these questions and more may be multi-faceted, but it’s important to pay attention to them if you hope to keep more of your money when it’s time to buy or sell real estate.

Believe it or not, even in what seems like the gloomiest of real estate markets, there will be a glimmer of light for some.

Pay Attention to Interest Rates

It certainly is no secret that obtaining a lower interest rate for a mortgage typically allows for a lower payment. Naturally then, low interest rates make home-buying an attractive venture—and, even whispers of a rate hike can spur folks to get out into the market.

For instance, by the end of 2015, the U.S. saw 5.26 million home sales, which was the most robust housing market since 2006. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), attributed the robust market, in part, to the mere “prospect of higher mortgage rates in coming months.”

And, rise they did, throughout the following year. In fact, late in 2016, mortgage interest rates rose eight times in nine weeks, according to bankrate.com. Sounds rather gloomy until one recognizes that, post-hike, rates were still at historic lows.

The bottom line is that if you’re in the market for a home and interest rates decrease or remain attractively low, it’s time to get excited about the housing market.

The Economy

The current economy is a key factor affecting the real estate market. “Broadly speaking, when the economy is sluggish, so is real estate,” claims Joseph Nguyen at Investopedia. Rather than look at the glass half-full, however, we choose to take the opposite tack—when the economy is humming along, the housing market is at its most attractive.

When job growth is robust, consumer confidence rises and we’re more apt to spend money on high-ticket items, such as cars, appliances, vacations and, yes, homes.

Exciting Markets for Sellers

There’s an old saying in the real estate industry that counsels homeowners that the best time to sell a home is when you need to sell your home. Yes, we understand that isn’t very helpful. If you’re one of the fortunate who has no compelling reason to sell (such as a job offer in a different town or divorce), you have the luxury of choosing when to put the home on the market.

Get excited if real estate professionals mention the words “sellers’ market.” This is a period in which there are few homes for sale but buyer demand is high. During sellers’ markets prices typically increase rapidly and homes sell at or above list price.

One of the biggest mistakes we see in sellers’ markets is the homeowner who feels that the market itself will bring top dollar for the home, regardless of condition. Be aware that it’s the homes in good condition that sell the quickest and for the most amount of money. Regardless if market conditions favor sellers, if your home isn’t in move-in condition, it may be passed over by home buyers.

Buying a Home This Year?

A buyers’ market—when there is a large selection of homes for sale and few other buyers in the market—is a great time to purchase a home. Unlike a sellers’ market, prices aren’t rapidly escalating and you won’t be competing against a slew of other buyers. These markets are more relaxed so homebuyers can take their time deciding.

In a sellers’ market, however, it’s more important than ever to have all your ducks in a row before making an offer on a property. Ensure you know exactly how much you can spend and that you’ve obtained a preapproval letter from your lender. Make your offer stand out from others by keeping it lean and mean, with the shortest time periods for contingencies as possible. Finally, come in with your highest and best offer. A sellers’ market moves too quickly to assume the homeowner will negotiate over price.

While the type of market may determine when to jump in, as mentioned earlier, interest rates can also cause excitement in the housing market. Low rates and relaxed lending guidelines, such as we saw in 2015 and 2016, presented a prime opportunity for many would-be buyers who previously couldn’t afford to purchase.

Lower mortgage rates mean a lower monthly payment, which means you have more purchasing power, and that additional power can “mean the difference between buying a 2-bedroom home versus a 3-bedroom one; between buying a home with large closets versus small closets; and, between buying an upgraded home versus a dated one,” according to Dan Green at The Mortgage Reports.

Regardless of the media’s perception of the housing market, there is always a mix of good and bad news, depending on whether you are in the market to buy or to sell. Arm yourself with a professional real estate agent who can supply you with current and local market information (too often what you read in the news is stale and based on nationwide statistics), follow his or her advice and buying or selling a home in any market will be an exciting process.

 

Ready to talk to a Dallas real estate professional? Book an appointment with me at atfowlerrealtor.appointy.com.

How to Sell & Buy a New Home Simultaneously Using Your Equity

 

How does one sell their current home and buy a new one? With the inventory being really low right now, some sellers are nervous about selling their home. If they sell quickly, where will they go?

The key here is to discover how much equity is currently in your home and is it enough to move-up to the next home. Can you do it simultaneously? The answer is yes you can. The timing for doing so requires being pre-approved for your next home, knowing how much you can get with the sale of the current home, and where you want to go.

There are resources for sellers such as a bridge loan to secure their next home without paying two mortgages or worse case scenario, being homeless.

My past client, Saron, sat down with me to talk about her selling experience for the first time and buying for the second time.

Watch below.

 

Want to discuss how we can market your home in the Dallas real estate market? You can contact us at 972-813-9788 or atfowler@NewAvenueRealty.com or Book An Appointment.

2017 the Year of the Move-Up?

Is 2017 the year of the move-up? We are all itching to advance from things such as our careers, cars, personal life, and living situations? Let’s discuss this more. You may live in a home that was perfect for you and/or your family a few years ago. As time expands and sometimes income, it may be perfect to move-up to a home that fits you at this stage in your life.

If you are considering moving up to your dream home, it may be better to do it earlier in the year than later. The two components of your monthly mortgage payment (home prices and interest rates) are both projected to increase as the year moves forward, and interest rates may increase rather dramatically. Here are some predictions on where rates will be by the end of the year:

Freddie Mac

While full employment and rising inflation are signs of a strong economy, they also have the potential to push mortgage rates and house prices up. The higher rates and higher prices create significant affordability concerns, which may continue to characterize the housing market for the rest of 2017.”

Lynn Fisher, Vice President of Research & Economics for the Mortgage Bankers Association

By the time we get to the fourth quarter of this year, we will still be under 5 percent – we are thinking 4.7 percent…Something north of 5 percent by the time we get to 2018, and by the time we get to 2019, we show fourth-quarter rates hitting 5.5 percent.”

Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist

Despite some regional disparities, title agents and real estate professionals do not expect increasing mortgage rates to have a significant impact on the housing market this spring. Continued good economic news, increasing Millennial demand and confidence that buyers will remain in the market even if rates exceed 5 percent bode well for 2017 real estate.

Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist for Freddie Mac

We will probably see rates higher at the end of year, around 4.5%.”

Drea’s Two Cents

If you are feeling good about your family’s economic future and are considering making a move to your dream home, doing it sooner rather than later makes the most sense. Use the profit from your current home to put into your next home. Remember this: You are only taking funds from one investment and moving it to another.

Ready for the move-up? You can find your move-up home here: move-updallas.com. 

6 Reasons Your Home Won’t Sell

Are you ready to sell your home and want it to have a great first impression on the market? Or maybe your home has been listed for a few weeks or months, and you can’t figure out why it won’t sell, and you know your agent is working hard to market it. We’ve listed below the top 6 reasons your home may not make a good impression and end up stagnant on the market.

1. IT’S OVERPRICED

To be clear, an overpriced home is the #1 reason a home won’t sell. We often times want our homes to be worth a lot more than we may see based on the data, but if you put your home on the market for the number you wish it will bring instead of the price it actually needs to be, your home can sit on the market for months without getting a single showing. If you’re thinking you need to price high to leave room for negotiations, statistics show that views for your property, for buyers in your price range, can drop a whopping 90% if it’s priced too high. Discuss with your agent what the market says the value of your home is, then price it competitively to potentially get a bidding frenzy instead of low offers or having it expire.

2. LOW SHOWING AVAILABILITY

Making sure the house is clean and having to leave on a daily basis for buyers to tour the home may get a little overwhelming, but it is crucial to have open availability to have your home shown. You could end up missing out on the perfect buyer if you decline too many showings. The longer it sits on the market, the less value buyers will see in it. Talk with your agent about having a 24 hour notice period if the extra time is needed, but make sure your home is available to be shown as often as possible.

3. CLUTTERED SPACE

Buyers want to walk into a house and envision their lives in that home. This is difficult to do if your home is cluttered with personal belongings. They are instantly given the feeling of invading someone else’s personal space, instead of the satisfaction of being able to see a future in your home. Make sure your property is clutter free before putting it on the market; and store away any family photos.

4. UNPLEASANT ODORS

If you smoke or have pets, it’s easy to get used to the smell to the point that you don’t even notice it anymore. But it’s important to understand that the scent can be picked up by new people visiting your home, and it can really turn them off from making an offer. Before a showing, make sure to dispose of any garbage, don’t cook fish or other strong smelling food, and ensure the home is freshened up so there are no pet or smoke odors.

5. UNWILLING TO MAKE REPAIRS

Selling your home as-is may sound appealing at first, but being unwilling to make repairs could cost another mortgage payment that far exceeds the cost of repairs if you refuse to work with the buyer on their requests and the home goes back on the market again. It’s wise to be open to repair requests, and simply go over with your agent what you can afford to do and make a reasonable counter offer during the repair negotiations. 

6. UNWILLING TO NEGOTIATE WITH BUYERS

It’s important to have an open mind about requests that will come from buyers when it comes to purchasing your home. These requests can come in the form of price negotiations, repair requests, or even requests to cover closing costs or home warranties. With your agent on your side advising you of the best steps to take, it’s best to be open to working with the buyer’s on some of their requests to ensure a successful closing.

If you’re considering selling your home, book an appointment with me to have a complimentary seller’s consultation before listing your home. You can book an appointment here or contacting me at 972-813-9788.