Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are Open Houses a Waste of Time?

In a word: NO!
But, I get ahead of myself.  When I started in the Real Estate game, things were gloomy (to put it mildly).  Foreclosures were everywhere and entire "ghost towns" were created when people walked away from homes they saw no way of getting out from under.
Those were bleak times.  Many Realtors left the business and didn't look back.  A couple of years ago, telling people you were a Realtor would garner a few snickers or sympathetic head shakes.
So we saw signs go up in front of houses without brochure boxes, or worse, empty boxes.  In my neighborhood, there hadn't been an open house in several years.  I'm not kidding.
But sometimes Old School is just what a neighborhood needs.  I held an open house last weekend in Belle Creek.  I put signs and balloons at every entrance to the neighborhood.  I walked to every home in the neighborhood (all 300+) and invited every neighbor.  I posted on Twitter and Facebook.  And I waited.
And I reinforced what I've always felt about Belle Creek.  It is a pretty special place to live, and people seem to want to be a part of this community.  Right at 11am when the open house was to start, a young couple came through the door.  Shortly after they left, another couple came along.  During the time of the open house, I had about 25 people come through.  When it was over, 6 more people rang the bell (after I left!) to see if they might have a look too.
So, are Open Houses worth it?  Only if you want to sell your house.  If your Realtor is not holding open houses, maybe you should ask them why.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Inspired! Appealing Property Taxes to Lower Them, Steps 1 and 2

Yesterday, I read an article on msnbc entitled "High Property Taxes? 4 steps to lowering them."
If you have lived in Belle Creek for long, you no doubt have watched our sales values take a hit, while our property taxes stay high.  I am a serious proponent of supporting public schools and having good roads, and taking care of our parks.  I am also a pretty big supporter of not paying too much for property taxes.
When we got our tax bill this year, I stared at the nearly $4,000 and swallowed the bile rising in my throat. Good lord, isn't there something we can do about this?
Turns out there is.
Step 1: Track Down the Paperwork.  
This is where I am in the process.  I called the Adams County Assessor's office (303-654-6038) this morning after trying to find the form on their website.  A very nice and knowledgeable employee told me that Notices of Valuation were sent May 2009, and they are only sent every other year.  On the back of this notice is the form for appealing your property taxes.
Unfortunately, I am not as organized as I would like to be, and I have no idea where I put that form.  When it comes to business, I can lay my hands on paperwork at a moment's notice, but when it comes to personal stuff...
He must not have been working in county government for long, because he laughed and told me he would send out another copy right away.
Step 2: Understand the Process
Although there is a form on the back of the valuation notice, you do not need it to appeal your tax value. You must submit a written protest, but it can be done by mail, fax or in person.  This must be done before June 1.  If you submit it in person, you can sit with the county appraiser and discuss where the value comes from and plead your case.
Be sure to bring as much evidence as you can.  If you have a recent appraisal, this will help.  Also, bringing a list of recent sold comparable properties in your neighborhood will help.
I have only gotten this far in the process myself, so I will report what happens as it happens.  Wish me luck...

If you would like assistance in appealing your property taxes and need recent solds in  your area, please email me or call me at 720-341-5235.  This is a FREE service that I am happy to assist you with.