The Real Estate Investor’s Resource

Turning Intentions into Action

Property Taxes too High? Here’s how to appeal…

Property Taxes Too High?

Property Tax Assessment Appeals to the Rescue

Are you watching your property taxes go up while your property value goes down?  Somehow it seems that even though property values are dropping, the taxes on property are still going up.  If this is the case for you, then exercise your right to the appeals process; it’s a fairly simple process.

First, you want to compare the tax assessed value of your property to the fair market real estate value.  Carefully check your property tax bill for the tax assessed value.  Then find the fair market value for your property by looking at recent comparable sales.  Real estate agents and websites such as www.homegain.com are good for performing a real estate fair market value analysis.

Let’s say that your property is 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and is assessed at $155,000.00.  You want to look for recent sales in your area of other 3 bedroom/2 bath properties.   An example of the comparables sales in your area might be:

3/2   $138K

3/2   $140K

3/2   $157K

3/2   $165K

How would you make sense of these numbers?  If you just took the average of the numbers it would equal $150K.  

So, what do you do now?  Further define the differences in your property and the other comparable sales.  One way to do this is to use data from a real estate agent and website like www.homegain.com.   Another way is to simply drive by the address of each comparable property (this shouldn’t take much time since they are right in your neighborhood).   When you view the comparable properties, look to see how similar or different they are from your property.   You might find that the properties selling for the higher end prices of $157K and $165K are brick, while your home and those sold at $138K and $140K have siding.  Or you might find that the more expensive properties are larger than yours or have other differences that would make them worth more.  Whatever the situation, it is a good idea to take a picture while you are there to show the differences.

If you’ve found some substantial differences, it’s time to submit your real estate tax appeal.  There is a deadline for the appeals process so pay attention to the deadline dates on your tax bill.  Simply write a letter including your parcel identification number explaining why you are appealing the tax assessed value.  Include your comparable sales documentation, pictures and other documentation. 

You will receive one of two responses to your appeal letter.   Your tax assessed value may be adjusted based on your appeal letter.   However, you won’t always win the real estate tax appeal process that easily; your response letter may be a notice that you are required to go before the board of equalization to further dispute the tax assessed value.  At this point, you have to decide if it is worth your time based on the potential savings.

Don’t forget that the tax assessed value not only affects your bottom line, but if you get ready to sell your house, the buyer will have to consider the tax bill as part of their expense.  The tax amount on the property will impact their monthly mortgage payment, which impacts the amount they can pay for a house.  The simple fact that you have appealed your tax value and that it is in line with the fair market real estate value for your property can save you money now and be a help when you are ready sell. 

To learn more about real estate fair market value analysis, visit http://dealsorduds.com .

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March 19, 2008 Posted by | Real Estate, Real Estate Investing, real estate investors | , | Leave a comment

Tips for Selling Your House in a Tight Real Estate Market

Erica Whitney, real estate investor and agent joined me today on Real Estate Reality Radio to talk about today’s real estate market. 

Erica’s best tip for selling your house in a tight real estate market: Give them the Wow Factor.  The “Wow Factor” includes making the house look top notch & pricing it right. 

To make the home look top notch, clean it up, give it a fresh coat of paint, clean or replace carpets and add some new light fixtures if necessary.   Stage the home with furnishings and accessories to make it look inviting.  Give the buyer a reason to think, “Wow -right features, right price!”

Price the home at or below the most recent comparable sales.  Erica shared some interesting information on pricing.  She said, “If you’ve had 10-12 showings and no offers -You’re 5-10% over priced.”  “If you have no showings you’re 10% over priced.”

Other topics discussed:  where to invest, cash flow, tenant management, the new GA Purchase and Sale contract, short sales, and more!  Here’s what one listener had to say about the show, ”

“I very much enjoyed listening to your broadcast. You helped me better understand the options around management of properties after the purchase is complete.” 

Thanks, 

Giulio

Listen to the show.   Listen to Real Estate Reality Radio on internet talk radio

February 22, 2008 Posted by | atlanta real estate market, Real Estate, Real Estate Investing, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

A Regional View of Real Estate Investing -Strategic Planning

What do you know about the regional planning of the area where you invest?  I recently attended a meeting where there was a regional planning representative speaking about various plans for our region, from transportation to housing to parks and recreation and more.  This meeting provided much insight into my own personal investing choices and decisions for the coming months and years. 

A great way to be strategic with your real estate investing plans is to know and understand the regional plans for your area.  These plans can provide great insights for you around your real estate investing strategy and  contribute  greatly to the success of your investing plans.

Speaking of being strategic, do you have a strategic plan for your real estate investing?  Taking information like regional planning into account is what a strategic plan is all about.  Every business needs a strategy, a long term plan of action that leads to winning!

If you and/or your company do not have a strong strategic plan, I strongly encourage you to take the time to work on your business and do the planning.   In working with numerous clients and real estate investing companies, I find that the those who take the time to create and consistently work their strategic plans are by far the most successful. I absolutely love  working with clients on their strategic plans and seeing the results it produces.  If you are ready for a strong strategy for success – call me – 770-377-1847 – I’d love to help!

February 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Asset Protection -Real Estate Investors & Corporate Governance

So, you’ve heard that you need asset protection as an investor and you’ve even set  up your entity.  But, have you properly managed that entity?  Unfortunately, entity structuring for the purpose of asset protection can be absolutely useless if you are not properly handling corporate governance.  Yes, that’s the side where you have to keep up with minutes, paperwork, meetings, etc. It is really not that complicated if you understand what you need to be doing.   Listen to Traci Ellis, real estate and asset protection attorney,  on my radio show, Real Estate Reality Radio,  to learn more about how to use corporate governance to  protect your assets.  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/RealEstateRealityRadio

February 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Property Value Trends

There have been a lot of recent changes when it comes to property value trends.  Do you worry about making a bad investment decision? Analyzing deals and the value of property can be tricky -especially in this market.  

I am excited to announce that  Foreclosure.com   has invited me to be there guest on Thursday, February 7th at 4 PM, in presenting a webinar where we will be discussing How to Determine the Value of Real Estate.  In this webinar,  I’ll be providing a lot of information that you won’t want to miss when it comes to figuring out value and making good investment decisions! 

February 5, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Real Estate Investing & Taxes

Investors are often interested in the real estate professional status for tax purposes because having that status allows one to write off greater losses against their income.  Whether or not you qualify for the status depends upon how much time you spend on real estate activities. 

Any time you have a question regarding tax code, you should consult a CPA that is knowledgeable specifically about real estate investing.  Not all CPAs are up to speed on the specific codes that benefit investors, if you are investing in real estate, find a CPA that is. 

It is also important to remember that tax codes are always changing and your tax situation, income and other factors are most likely changing from year to year.  This is all the more reason to have a good CPA that understands real estate investing (and your situation) so that they can solve the good old tax code for you!

Choose where you want to specialize and spend your time.  In other words, don’ try to know and be an expert at everything in your real estate investing business.   Unless you have a true knack for studying and understanding tax code, this is one area that is best left to the professionals.

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Loans -Risk Based Pricing/Loan Level Price Adjustments

Allow me to introduce you to the latest in the mortgage business for 2008 – Risk Based Pricing or Loan Level Price Adjustments. Basically, the concept is that additional points are being added to loans based on how risky the borrower is. These are not the discount points used to buy down the interest rate, these are additional points making the loan cost more. The lower the credit score of the borrower, the more points and cost.

Yesterday I was chatting with a lender at First Horizon about a potential “refi” on an investment property. Here’s the scoop or an example on what the points are looking like now based on the offerings from First Horizon:

Full Doc
680 & Above – no points
679-660 – 1 point
659-640 – 1.5 points
639-620 -1.75 points
under 620 – 2.5 points

Stated Income Loans -Must have a minimum of 680 score
720 Score – .5 point added for stated income
680-720 – 1 point added for stated income

This is a far cry from the old days when as long as the borrower had over a 620 credit score, loan costs were basically the same.

Thankfully, real estate investing provides creative ways to invest even without having great credit. However, when you are ready to refinance those deals that didn’t require credit to purchase them, credit becomes very important. If your credit is not the best and even if you are successfully investing without credit, begin working towards improving your credit score. There’s tons of great information at www.myfico.com.

January 12, 2008 Posted by | credit, mortgages, Real Estate Investing, refinancing | Leave a comment

The Business Side -XP to Vista … new computers/business systems

Things have really been crazy lately – a part of the craziness has been my computer crash leaving me behind on many tasks including blog postings. I’ve been wanting a new computer that’s faster, has more memory and capacity for some time now. It’s amazing how wishes can come true. My old computer started breaking down piece by piece -it was so slow, then the fan stopped working and within a few days the screen went blank. A new project and fast, I was now looking into the latest and greatest in the computer world.

Everyone said Vista is a problem, find a computer with XP. Well, that was close to impossible. The only option I found for laptops was to have a new machine built with XP by Dell. Since I was not interested in Dell and even the Mac didn’t support my business applications like ACT, Quickbooks and other programs, my option was to upgrade to Windows Vista – so I have.

I don’t think that the problem is that Vista is a bad operating system. Hey, years ago I had to buy a new desktop when the only thing available was the ME operating system, which was nothing but a problem. Vista seems to work great. The problem is that it doesn’t work with most older versions of software, which means upgrade, upgrade, upgrade and spend more money. Most all of my programs have had to be upgraded and that takes time and money.

On the bright side, having a new computer that is speedy with the latest and greatest features and software is a great feeling. I’m looking forward to rocking in the new year with a fast computer!

With that said, let me give you the coaching tip here. Researching, purchasing and overcoming the change with the new computer and transfer of data (let alone this being the holiday season) has been a challenge. However, remembering that I can go into the new year faster and better as a result of this challenge provides me with a light at the end of the tunnel. Most things that are worth while require work and sometimes even a little aggravation along the way, but the important thing is to keep the right perspective and the vision of what is to come in the future – try to visualize the fruits of your labor whether it’s a computer, real estate or other.

December 20, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Evaluating Neighborhoods

I always tell my real estate investor clients to talk to the neighbors in any area where they plan to invest. Getting familiar with an area is easy if you will just walk around and talk to the neighbors. You will be surprised what you find out about the neighborhood, the neighbors and even specific properties when you do that. I sometimes casually walk my dogs in new neighborhoods where I am considering investing and stop along the way to chat with anyone I see outside.

I have a friend who is looking for a new home in his daughter’s school district. His daughter lives with his x wife and their home is quite a distance from his current home. He wants to be closer to his little girl so he has set out on a search for a new home. After driving through numerous neighborhoods in the school district and narrowing it down to a couple of neighborhoods in the area, he was still having a tough time deciding between those neighborhoods.

On Halloween, we were taking his daughter Trick or Treating. Then this idea popped into my head and I said, “Let’s Trick or Treat” in those neighborhoods that you’ve chosen thus far!” We did just that. After our Trick or Treating adventure, his decision was very easy and he decided on one neighborhood that is his favorite.

Too bad Halloween doesn’t come around more often -what an easy way to check out the neighbors and get more information on a neighborhood. Even when it’s not Halloween, you can still walk the neighborhood and talk to people. Give it a try. One of my clients once told me a story about how he had heard my words about “talking to the neighbors ring in his ears”. He was shy and uncomfortable with just trying to strike up a conversation with people. However, he finally decided to talk a kid who was riding his bike. That little boy ended up telling him that someone had been killed in the house he was looking at purchasing. See what I mean? There’s a lot of information available for you if you’ll just get out in the neighborhood and start talking to people!

November 1, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Atlanta Progressive News on Atlanta Housing Authority

After my recent posting regarding the Impact of Fraud & Foreclosures on Investors, I was contacted by Atlanta Progressive News. They have done numerous stories on the Atlanta Housing Authority and the current state of affairs with public housing, which you may find interesting as an investor. You can read the stories on their website -here is the link to the story done after our conversation http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/news/0228.html .

September 18, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment