Friday, February 17, 2006

Texas Homestead Exemption

The Texas Homestead Exemption, in addition to providing legal protection regarding your home, can also save you money on your property tax bill. A homestead exemption reduces taxes by lowering a home's taxable value. All school districts offer a $5000 homestead exemption, and some taxing units offer a percentage exemption of up to 20% of a home's assessed value. Homeowners can lower their property taxes by applying for these exemptions for which they are eligible. You must own your own home and occupy it as your principal residence on January 1. You can have only one principal residence and one homestead exemption.

A special form is needed to apply for homestead exemptions. The form must be completed and returned to the appropriate appraisal office not before January 1 but no later than April 30. You can download the application from, fill out the form, and send it in to your appraisal district.

Don't fall for misleading solicitations to file your homestead exemption. There is no fee to file a property-tax homestead exemption. Shortly after the purchase of a home in Texas, you might receive letters on official-looking stationery offering to file your homestead exemption for you for a fee. Even some people who have lived in Texas their entire lives confuse these letters as a form from a state agency requiring a mandatory fee.

The actual process is both free and easy so take a few minutes to save yourself hundreds of dollars on your tax bill.

Christina Whipple

CA requirement is a little late - comparing February 2004 with February 2006

Life has little ironies, and real estate is no exception.

California buyers agents are now required to tell their buyers that the offers they make are not confidential. The seller and his agent may choose to share the information in your offer, such as the price and terms of the offer, with anyone, including another buyer or agent to entice them to outbid your offer. This information may be important to buyers because it may affect the price and/or terms of their offer. It could also affect what strategies might be used in order to get offers accepted, such as having an offer expire quickly before the seller has a chance to receive another one.

Now that this requirement is in place, however, there may not be many markets that find it useful. Calfornia, New York, and Florida are still in relatively strong sellers' markets, but here in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California, it’s much closer to a normal market in February 2006. February 2004 in Southern California was another story, however, and that’s when this requirement would have been more useful because we had a double-digit number of offers on every property. The highest number of offers on one property that I was involved in was 26. My buyer didn't end up with that property, by the way. In fact, I wrote 15 offers at or above asking price in February 2004 and didn't end up with any of those properties. For February 2006, we have 3 offers written and accepted, all under asking price.

This requirement is just about 2 years too late, but it'll be in place the next time we're in the strong seller's market of the real estate cycle.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It's a Buyers' Market in Michigan

Have you read George Will's article on the state of the State of Michigan??? Click here There is no question this State is hurting in many economic ways what with auto plant layoffs and shutdowns, unemployment, our corporate income-tax burden . . . Apparently it's been a good economy for United Van Lines who reported that last year the ratio of outbound to inbound moves was the state's highest since 1982!

On the bright side, it's a fantastic market for buyers right now. Whether you are a first-time buyer, an investor, or a move-up buyer you can find some great deals on homes right now. Don't get all in the doldrums about the financial state here but act while prices are the best they've been in years! For assistance, call us at our tollfree number, 800-923-3245.

And the economic state of Michigan will improve!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Florida Homestead Exemption

Great article about the benefits of filing for the Florida Homestead Exemption, as well as a link to the application form for Lee County Florida. Follow the Link to this article at the top.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Questions about PodCasts

Some questions about how to use a PodCast and how it could be made more valuable to the public have been posted at Comments are requested, although moderated.

Like, why would the public listen to a PodCast about real estate?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

10 Common Mistakes That Cost Sellers Dollars

Now that we are experiencing a more balanced real estate market, Sellers have to do more than place a sign in the yard, set a price 20% higher than the house down the street that sold last week and have 2-3 offers in their hand in a couple of days.

Buyers are more discriminating. They will not accept a home with the defects they might have put up with just 6 months ago. So, what mistakes should a Seller avoid for a profitable and smooth transaction?

  1. Improper pricing
  2. Not providing access
  3. Bad housekeeping
  4. Not making repairs
  5. Poor showing techniques
  6. Relying on traditional methods
  7. Being emotional
  8. Not knowing the market
  9. Unqualified prospects
  10. Choosing the wrong agent

Click here for an Interactive Seller Guide on how not to make these costly mistakes. Or, contact one of the REALTORS listed on this site for more personalized information.

Ruth Ann Macklin

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

San Antonio Poised for Growth

Over the past several months, I have been writing about the investment oportunities in the San Antonio residential real estate market. Statistics indicate that the next several years will see continued growth in this market segment as a result of population expansion. Today, I noticed that CNN Money has listed San Antonio as #1 for projected growth in the next two years.

CNN Money Article

For the next 2 years, the San Antonio market is projected to grow at between 7% and 8% annually. Please contact me if you are an investor looking for residential purchases in the San Antonio area.

Christina Whipple