Home Owners: How to Boost Your Appraisal Value

Cory is a frequent writer for Courthouse Direct. CourthouseDirect.com is an online database for public records including property tax reports, deed reports and real property documents.

A low appraisal on your home’s value can have a serious negative affect on the selling or refinancing process. There are steps you can take toward boosting the official appraisal of your home so it reflects the best value possible.

Curb Appeal

The outside of your property matters just as much as what the appraiser will see inside. Before the appraiser arrives, make sure your home has curb appeal. Take care of your lawns, including weeding and mowing the grass. Be sure the landscaping looks as though it is kept up with. This will improve the first impression made by your property by showing the appraiser, and anyone who passes by, that you take the time to care for your home.

Clean & Cared For

While an unmade bed or full laundry hamper should not negatively affect the appraisal of your home, it is important to make sure the home appears cared for and generally clean. If you want to boost the appraisal of your home be sure there are no pests, such as rodents or insects, and clean up anything that may seem neglected or unsafe. For example, a car that isn’t running should be moved into a garage and out of the way instead of taking up space on the front lawn. Repaint any peeling or damaged wall finishes to the best of your ability, repair plumbing and electrical issues, and make sure to finish as many ongoing home repair and upgrade projects as you can before the appraiser arrives.

Keep Records

An organized record of the updates you’ve made to your home since purchasing the property will give the appraiser an idea of the value you have added. Do not rely entirely on your memory of improvements, upgrades, and repairs you have made. Keep detailed records of when each upgrade was made and exactly what work was done. Hand this list to the appraiser before the appraisal begins.

Welcoming & Comfortable

An uncomfortable appraiser, no matter how thorough or professional they may be, is more likely to rush through an appraisal and potentially miss something. Keep pets securely away from the appraiser, make sure the temperature inside is comfortable, and be a polite and welcoming host. The more comfortable and welcome you make the appraiser feel, the more likely you are to boost the final appraisal.

When trying to sell or refinance your home, a good appraisal can make or break a successful outcome. Take care of your home, keep careful records, and be a welcoming host in order to boost your appraisal.


Property Tax Deductions: An Overview

It is said that that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. Unfortunately, the actual tax amount paid is never certain. Often, those in the highest Federal tax bracket are required to pay up to 35% of taxable income. With these high rates, tax payers have to take advantage of each tax deduction at their disposal in order to relieve some of their tax burden.

For most tax payers who don’t own a business, run a farm, or have a trust or investment income, there are very few deductions that can be utilized. The majority of things that are deductible won’t amount to much for many of us because there is a minimum amount that must be met before it can be a worthwhile tax deduction. A common example of this is medical expenses. While these are technically deductible, the bills are required to exceed 9% of your income. So, unless your medical bills are substantial, they cannot be used.

On the brighter side, because of the government’s continued encouragement of home ownership, there are many viable tax deductions that can be utilized for those who own real estate. The most well known of these deductions are interest paid on a mortgage and the points paid on a new mortgage loan. (Visit http://www.republicpropertytax.com/index.php?nav=residential for more info).

One of the lesser known deductions is the property tax deduction. Many tax professionals tell us that money paid on other taxes is one of the most commonly sought after deductions. This is easy to comprehend because most people believe that it is not fair to be required to pay taxes on money that has already been used to pay other taxes. Fortunately, the tax code agrees with this.

Some taxpayers overlook this deduction because their taxes are paid through an escrow account by the bank. People forget that the escrow account is funded by their own money and not the bank. Therefore, taxes paid are deductible by the homeowner.

In order to deduct property taxes, be sure to fill in the correct amount on the IRS Form Schedule A, Line 6. If you feel your property valuation is too high, you can protest your property taxes in order to lower your property tax bill. If you pay through an escrow account, you can find the amount on the 1099-INT sent by the mortgage company. For those who pay directly to the government, it may be necessary to review your financial records. A point to remember is that some pay taxes twice a year, so don’t short change yourself by only deducting one payment. Before making any big decisions, we recommend that you visit with a tax consultant first (such as one of the experts at www.republicpropertytax.com).

How Property Taxes Are Calculated

Real estate property taxes are a considerable source of revenue for local governments within the U.S. These funds are used to improve important public facilities such as schools, libraries, and fire stations. Vital infrastructure like roads, sewers, and bridges are also supported by property taxes.

The property tax rates, which are represented in percentages and sometimes called millage rates, are typically decided and collected by local governments such as city councils or county commissions. A “mill” is one dollar for ever $1,000 in value. Each year, typically around September or October, governing bodies conduct budget hearings in order to determine how much revenue they will require to maintain their operations for the next year. The tax rate is subsequently calculated by dividing the board’s total taxes by the entire assessed value of the jurisdiction.

Each state has different laws governing real estate and property tax. However, the way in which property taxes are calculated is fairly standard. Typically, the process involves multiplying the prevailing tax rate by the assessed value of a property. Any existing exemptions are deducted from the resulting figure. Approximately 40 states give certain credits or homestead exemptions which can lower a property’s taxable value.

One of the most important factors in determining property tax is the assessed value of the property. In order to find the assessed value, an assessor estimates the market value of a property or the likely sale price in the real estate market. The assessor will conduct studies and analyze the local real estate market. The assessment also includes considerations such as new construction, home improvements, and demolitions.

As a homeowner, you can get an idea of your property’s market value based on the sale prices of similar properties in your area. If it seems that your assessment is too high, you have the opportunity to have the value reduced through an administrative property tax hearing or by consulting with your assessor or a local property tax consultant.

In determining a property’s assessed value, the actual value is multiplied by the assessment rate which varies in each jurisdiction. For example, if the value of a home is $140,000 and the assessment rate is 8 percent, the assessed value would be $11,200. Meanwhile, in figuring the property tax for the same $140,000 home, with a tax rate of 25%, multiply the assessed value by the tax rate ($11,200 x .025). This results in a property tax burden of $2,800.

Always remember that property taxes are due annually and failure to pay could mean penalties. You should learn as much as possible about property taxes and other related tax breaks and relief that will save you money.