The Buying Process -Why Property Taxes Go Up?

The Buying Process -Why Property Taxes Go Up?

By Nancy Sardo

Here are nine reasons why property taxes go up:

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, you should be aware of the reasons why property taxes go up.

1. State and local budget cuts

Little of that is in the homeowner’s control. Aside from voting for elected officials, the only thing homeowners can vote on is the school budget.

2. Increases in public employee benefits

The average government employee has benefits that are 45 percent higher than their private-sector counterparts, according to the Labor Department. And thanks to unions and other legally-binding agreements, wages, pensions and health-care benefits are continually rising, even when the nation is in a recession and states can’t cover the costs. As a result, homeowners are tapped to make up the difference with property taxes.

3. Adding a bathroom

There are a lot of family homes out there that only have one bathroom. Homeowners often believe adding a bathroom will not only increase harmony in their home but also increase their home’s value when they go to sell it. That may be true but remember that your property taxes are calculated based on the value of your home. So if you’ve increased its value, you’ve now increased your taxes as well.

So how will the assessor know if he or she doesn’t come inside the house? In a word — permits. You need a permit to do any plumbing, electrical or major construction work in your house and it’s not uncommon for a tax assessor to check if any permits were filed when assessing the value of the home.

This is why some people try to sneak by without requesting a permit but that’s a can of worms you don’t want to open — it will create huge headaches when you go to sell the house.

4. Renovating the kitchen

It’s easy to talk yourself into a pricey kitchen reno because kitchens are what sell homes, right?  Kitchen renovations have the most “bang for the buck.”  And, if you do it now, you figure that you can enjoy it for a while — not just the next owners. Well, guess who else will be enjoying that granite countertop, mosaic backsplash, and cherry cabinets? The taxman!

Even if you don’t knock down a wall and expand the square footage of the kitchen, you’re still improving the “condition” of the home by upgrading from that cracked Formica and granny cabinetry. And the “condition,” be it poor, fair, good or excellent, factors into the assessed value of your home and therefore your tax bill. A tax assessor can find out about a kitchen renovation in one of two ways: Either by doing an internal walk-through for the assessment, which can sometimes happen, or, like with the bathroom, through any permits you’ve filed.

Never underestimate the “condition” and it’s contribution to your tax bill. In certain areas, that can mean a difference of more than just a few percentage points. And that can mean a difference of more than a few dollars.

5. Converting the garage into a living space

So, you want to bring your in-laws to live with you. You figure that you’ll save money by not paying for a pricey senior living center — and by not adding to the footprint, the square footage, of your home, by converting the garage into an extra bedroom or apartment for them. Not to mention, it’ll put some distance between you and them! That may be true, but you’ve now increased the “livable” space of the home, and in most states, that’s going to increase the value — and the taxes.

6. Sheds and decks

Even improvements to the outside, such as sheds and decks, add value to your home. In some states, a shed is only considered an addition of the square footage if it has a concrete floor, but often, it’s going to be classified as an improvement to the home, increasing the home’s value — and your tax bill.

7. A garden 

A garden, flowers, and vegetables may seem unassuming. However, they can also sneakily increase your property taxes through what is called an alteration of land improvement.

8. Imaginary fireplaces

It’s always recommended that you appeal your tax assessment — or at least review the assessment with the tax assessor. First, if they don’t do an interior review of the home, but they see you took a permit out for, say that kitchen reno, they’ll probably estimate the value of the renovation based on other renovations in the area, And if your neighbors used higher-end materials than you did, that guesstimate is going to be too high and inflate your tax bill. Remember, there’s always the possibility of human error. A few years ago my husband and I met with our tax assessor and discovered he’d put us down for a fireplace that we don’t have. That inflated the value of the home by $5,000!  If we didn’t appeal, we would’ve been paying taxes on that imaginary $5,000 fireplace.

9. A golf course

The location of your land is an important component of your home’s valuation and taxes. If you live close to town or a pretty lake, that’s going to mean higher taxes. Pay attention to local construction. In the same way that construction of a new highway or chemical plant close to a home can dent its value, the addition of a golf course, lake, or other amenities can boost the value of a home — and the tax bill.

The bottom line

We all want the value of our property to go up. However, that also means an increase in property taxes.

So, if you really want your property taxes to go down, what can you do? Participate in the public process by voting for elected officials whose stance on taxes aligns with yours. Also, make sure you\take advantage of the opportunity to vote on your school budget.

And of course, never, ever underestimate the value of being nice to your tax assessor!

Who Needs a Buyer’s Agent?

Who Needs a Buyer’s Agent?

Who Needs a Buyer's Agent?Who Needs a Buyer’s Agent? You drive by an adorable house in a great neighborhood and you see a For Sale sign.  This might just be the one for your family!  You want information immediately about this house, so the fastest way to get it is by calling the number of the agent on the sign.  Whether you’re driving around on a sunny Sunday afternoon or checking Zillow at midnight in the comfort of your own home, contacting individual listing agents every time your interest is peaked could be an exhausting process.  Get yourself a Buyer’s Agent to do the work for you!

What is a Buyer’s Agent?  A buyer’s agent is a licensed real estate sales person who works for you  (the Buyer) to help you find the perfect house for your needs.  Best of all – you don’t pay them – the seller does!

Benefits of using a Buyer’s Agent:

Relationship:  Choose someone you trust and who you wouldn’t mind spending your evenings or weekends with!  You may be one of the fortunate few who finds a home after one or two days of searching.  But whether your search takes a day or several months, your agent will be by your side during the search and through the entire transaction which often takes a few months to close even when things run smoothly.  Additionally, working with one agent allows him or her to get a feel for your taste, style and needs so they can better suggest homes for your consideration.

Negotiation: There are several steps in the life of a real estate transaction and each may require negotiation and coordination.  A Buyer’s Agent is someone in your corner who will help you navigate the transaction and can advise you along the way.   Few real estate transactions happen without a single hitch.  Try not to let this frustrate you, your agent is there to help you through it.  And in the end, you’ll have the home of your dreams!

Time/Convenience:  Calling one agent for information about 5 houses is much easier than calling 5 different agents.  Good luck trying to schedule showings with multiple agents in one day.  Call or email your buyer’s agent, give them a list of what you’re looking for and let them go to work for you.  They will  send you suggestions as new listings hit the market.  Even if you’re  a buyer who knows exactly what you’d like to see, send a list of homes to your agent so they can schedule a day of showings for you.  Any agent can show you any home on the market (in the state that they are licensed in).  Interested in a For Sale By Owner ? – your agent can most likely get you into that house too.  You just have to show up!

No charge to you:  Yes, Buyer’s Agents do need to make a living, but you don’t pay them.  Each seller pays a commission to list/sell their home.  That commission gets split between the Listing Agent and the Selling/Buyer’s Agent.   No need to hesitate – using a Buyer’s Agent is a win/win for you!

So who needs a Buyer’s Agent?  Maybe you!  Happy House Hunting!

6 Spring Home Buying Tips

6 Spring Home Buying Tips

6 Spring Home Buying Tips

Here in Warwick and the Hudson Valley, the spring home buying season of April, May and June can be quite frenzied, as sellers scramble to sell because they have to move, buyers scramble to buy so they can enjoy the summer – or both.

So if you’re going to be a Spring Buyer, here’s some tips to do it right and as stress free as possible:

1 — Be prepared to act on the home you want!  Take action and don’t be indecisive.  Or you could lose this opportunity.

2 — Get pre-approved by a local lender (a local bank or local mortgage broker), if possible.  This “local” angle can often give you “preference” with a seller, knowing delays or hiccups will be minimal.

3 — It’s about the home, not the owner.  Who cares if it’s a foreclosure or a short sale?  You know the tried and tested Real Estate phrase . . . “location, location, location.”  Where do YOU want to be?  THAT’s all that matters.

4 — Make sure your Real Estate Agent specializes in the area where you want to buy.  They’ll obviously know the area, AND they’ll be well known and respected among area listing agents for this reason.  And that’s a win-win situation for you in finding that perfect home even quicker.

5 — Give the seller something others won’t.  Purchase offers contain many terms, and negotiations aren’t exclusively about the price.  A good Realtor can help you with this.  It could be something as simple as giving the seller more time to move out.  The possibilities are endless in setting yourself apart from the others.  Remember, this is often an emotional situation for a Seller – they want someone buying their home who they like, and who they feel will take care of it.

6 — Pick the RIGHT Agent.  Home buying can be intimidating, whether it’s your first or your fifth home.  But again, a reputable Real Estate Agent can hold your hand every step of the way during the busy spring season.

ALL Green Team Agents are highly-respected Realtors who operate with 100% integrity – it’s why we’re Warwick’s Realtor of choice, and one of the highest-volume and fastest-growing Real Estate Firms in the entire Hudson Valley (among the top 1%, in fact) . . . and with that personal, hometown touch we’ve become known for.  Call us TODAY at (845) 986-7730, and let us help you find that dream home before summer!

THE REAL ESTATE BUYING PROCESS…Is it a “Buyer’s Market”?

THE REAL ESTATE BUYING PROCESS…Is it a “Buyer’s Market”?

 

The general consensus about the current real estate climate is that it’s a “buyer’s market.”

Last year saw the number of home sales in the Warwick area up dramatically over the previous year, and this year looks to be no different, based on first-quarter activity. And with more homes now starting to come on the market as the weather warms, the next few months are going to provide prospective buyers with a wide inventory of homes to choose from.

Coupled with record-low interest rates, it’s a buyer’s market indeed (although sellers also benefit with more buyers out there, and homes selling faster than in recent years). But remember, you’re still very likely going to pay fair market value for a home, which is based on current market conditions.

However, those conditions are benefiting the buyers, as average home sale prices declined a few percentage points in the Warwick area over the past year – and this trend will likely continue this year.

A seasoned real estate agent who is knowledgeable about the local market is going to advise you with examples of comparable sales in the area over the past year or so, in order to provide you with realistic expectations of the fair market value of a home you’re interested in making an offer on.

This will prepare you for what to expect when the negotiation process begins – and will go a long way in helping you to secure that home you’ve fallen in love with.

By Dean DiltzAssociate Broker, The Green Team Home Selling System

Is New Construction in the Warwick NY School District What You Are Looking for?

Is New Construction in the Warwick NY School District What You Are Looking for?

Welcome to Warwick Ridge! Quality of Workmanship & attention to detail throughout the Barlow model. Beautiful open concept Eat-In Kitchen flows into the Large Family Room w/elegant wood burning fireplace and impressive high ceilings. Formal dining and living rooms are perfect for entertaining! Upstairs, retreat to your beautiful Master Bedroom Suite with vaulted ceilings, master bath with large walk-in closet. Close to commuter routes & the charming village of SugarLoaf. A brand new Home with no maintenance worries, beautiful mountain views, AND Warwick Blue Ribbon Schools! Other models and lots available–use our plans or bring your own! Please see documents for the Barlow floor plan, specs and site map. Photo depicted is the Model Home at 87 Ridge Road.

Once again new subdivisions are thriving in this area.

But buying a newly constructed home often presents considerations that many home purchasers overlook.  Having expert guidance in this area will prevent unexpected expenses and unwanted surprises as well as create ease in the building process.

Many subdivisions, for example, have rules regarding pools, garages, distance from home to the road, minimum square footage, siding and of course style. And some will only allow a certain type of construction, such as a Victorian or a center-hall Colonial. And are there municipal services or has the site been tested for well and septic?

You may want to find a lot where you can employ your own builder. Or you can opt for a subdivision that is owned by a builder.

There will be different styles and sizes of models to choose from that will suit your price range. But be sure you are working with a reputable builder who can show you previous work he has done.

Once you have settled on a subdivision, finding a lot that is suitable for the style of home you choose is not an easy decision but a very important one.

I suggest you pay careful attention to the shape and size of the lot and if it is hilly, wooded, swampy or flat and what type of traffic would effect the location. And also make sure your dream home fits within the subdivisions deeded guidelines.

Normally you will have a variety of models with variable square footage to choose from depending on your needs, your style and your budget. But be aware of what is standard and what is an optional upgrade

One of the more common mistakes that buyers of new construction make is their failure to plan for a larger landscaping budget to make the newly built home look lived in more quickly.

Get in touch with me today so we can go over all your options.

5 Basic Steps to Make a House Your Home

5 Basic Steps to Make a House Your Home

Are you looking to buy your home for the first time? Congratulations! While this is an exciting time, knowing what you are in for can ease the process exponentially. Below are five steps you can take to find your dream house, and make it into your new home.

Learn About Homeownership

Owning a home requires a large investment of time, money and energy, so make sure you are careful when making your decision to buy. To answer all of the questions you may have, participate in a First-Time Homebuyer class at a local non-profit agency in your community. Being well-informed will make you feel confident and in control before making any major financial decisions. Look for a First Time Home Buyer class offered by a local non-profit agency in your community.

Determine How Much Home You Can Afford

One of the most important steps for every homebuyer is to determine exactly how much home you can afford. By looking at your income and current monthly debts, you can determine your ideal monthly payment. From there, you’ll be able to narrow the focus of your house search to homes in your price range. Be sure to include down payments and other upfront costs in your calculations.

Shop for a Home

Condo? Single-family home? A fixer-upper or new construction? Knowing your housing needs — and selecting a real estate professional — before you start looking will help focus your time and energy. Plus, they will work on your behalf to pre-screen houses and guide you through negotiations. Working with a real estate professional can be useful when making an offer on a house—they will be available to answer your questions.

Find the Right Mortgage

Finding the right mortgage is about more than a rate and terms—it’s about finding the right financial partner. Look for a financial partner who will help to empower you to make informed decisions with confidence.

Close the Loan and Move In

Once your home has been inspected, your contingencies have been met and your mortgage has been approved, it’s time to close the deal! In most cases, a closing officer and your attorney will be present during closing. As the buyer, you should make sure to bring a binder for homeowners insurance (document proving you have adequate homeowners insurance), a paid receipt for the first year’s premium and a certified or cashier’s check for your down payment and closing costs. Before the closing begins, review your Mortgage, Mortgage Note and Settlement Statement documents to ensure there are no errors or red flags. Remember to ask questions during the closing, as the closing officer is there to help.

After you’ve signed all documents and paid your closing costs and down payment, the closing is finished! You’re free to move in once you reach the possession date stated on the purchase agreement. Congratulations!