Ruth McMahon's Blog
Property taxes are no small thing. They can drain a budget, especially if you buy a house in a city or state that has some of the steepest property taxes in the country. Taxes in these areas may not go down because government officials in these areas know that residents have grown accustomed to paying the high taxes, despite how fervently residents complain about the tax rates.
What you end up paying in housing property taxes might surprise you
Even if you're ready to pay higher taxes because you just want to buy a house in a certain area, you might be in for surprises. One of the biggest surprises is that you might not pay the same taxes that the people you buy a house from paid a few months early. There are several reasons for this, including:
- Homeowner's age - Some counties and municipalities lower property taxes for homeowners after the homeowners reach a certain age. For example, some counties and municipalities lower property taxes after homeowners turn 62 years of age. Check with the tax agency in the area that you are thinking about buying a house in to find out about rebates and other property tax deductions.
- Rebates - The former property owner may have qualified for tax rebates that you don't yet qualify for.
- Weather damage - As regrettable as it is, a recent weather storm could cause so much damage to an area that government officials raise property taxes to help cover the cost of repairing the damage.
- Other property damages - If only one or more houses experience due to events like strong winds or flooding, these homeowners might be able to get their houses assessed and prove that, because the value of their property has dropped, so too should their property taxes. After the homeowner rebuilds their property, their taxes might go up again.
Educate yourself about local residential property taxes
As with other real estate items, property taxes aren't stable. They change, which is why you might not pay the same taxes that a previous home owner paid. Property taxes rise and lower for a variety of reasons. Financial problems are one reason why property taxes go up. Government personnel mishandling budgets can also drive up property taxes.
Don't sit back and wait for the problem to solve itself should this happen. Instead,attend local city council and other local government meetings that are open to the public. Let your voice be heard. Build momentum by inviting other people to the meetings.
Should property taxes rise for other reasons, stay educated about when the increases will take effect. Also, pay attention to how often property taxes rise in an area. If you have family, friends or colleagues living in the area, ask them how often property taxes go up. This will help you to set financial expectations. It will also help you to know if you should move to the area or look elsewhere for a house.
What is Asbestos?Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is a known carcinogen--meaning it is capable of causing cancer. Asbestos has been utilized throughout history for a number of practical uses, dating back to Ancient Greek and Egyptian societies who used asbestos in the embalming process and in candle wicks. In 1900s America, asbestos was used in a range of industries from automobiles, the military, and in building our homes. The benefits of asbestos are many. It is a great insulator and is also fire retardant. So for homeowners trying to keep warm but also concerned about their house burning down, asbestos offered two highly sought after services. It wasn't until the 1970s that the U.S. government began warning about and regulating the use of asbestos.
RisksIn spite of its many uses, asbestos has one--huge--disadvantage: it causes cancer. More specifically asbestos exposure can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the chest and abdominal cavity). The cancer is a result of inhaling the fibers of asbestos mineral that are released into the air. In extreme cases where asbestos exposure becomes cancer-causing, some common symptoms include:
- pain or difficulty breathing
- coughing blood
- a cough that doesn't go away or worsens
- shortness of breath
Detecting asbestos in your homeThe ways in which asbestos can make its way into the air are innumerable. Sometimes drilling into a ceiling that is blown with asbestos insulation causes the fibers to fall into the home. However, there are other places asbestos has been used in homes such as in flooring, paint, and wallpaper used around wood-burning stoves. According to the EPA, you generally can't tell if something contains asbestos just by looking at it. If the asbestos containing material is in good condition it is recommended that you leave it alone. However, if you are planning a remodel that will disturb the material (work which involves breaking ceilings, walls, or flooring) it is recommended that you seek out a certified inspector.
Removal or repair?If an inspector deems part of your home unsafe due to asbestos fibers they will help you determine if the asbestos needs to be removed or simply repaired. In minor cases, a contractor will be able to repair the fix that is causing asbestos fibers in such a way that it doesn't need to be removed entirely. In more severe cases, the asbestos may need to be entirely removed by a contractor. It is important that you don't attempt these repairs or removals yourself as they require safety equipment and precautions that only accredited professionals have access to.
What is a credit score?Simply put, your credit score tells lenders how safe it is to lend money to you, i.e., the likeliness of you paying back your debt to them. In the United States, credit scores are awarded by three major companies. Since they use slightly different methods of scoring your credit, your score can vary slightly between them. What they all have in common, however, is that they put together your score based on your financial history (or lack thereof). How do they come about your score?
Parts of a credit scoreThink of an Olympic diver who just took a perfect dive. The judges off to the side are going to score her on a few different factors: her approach, her flight, and her entry into the water. They'll award her a number based on her dive and then those numbers are averaged to give her a score. Credit is scored in a similar way. You aren't judged just based on your payments or just based on how long you've had a credit card. Rather, you're judged based on a combination of five main things. For your FICO score (the score used by the majority of banks and lenders) those are:
- 35% - payment history
- 30% - current debt
- 15% - how long you've had credit
- 10% - types of credit
- 10% - new credit
A garage door protects your vehicle from the elements of nature. It could keep your vehicle’s paint and body from getting dented during hard storms. If you have an attached garage, you could stay warm longer on cold days and nights, as you’d only have to walk a few feet from the comforts of your house to your vehicle.
To continue enjoying these benefits, you have to know what to look for in your garage door. You have to know how to spot issues like those highlighted below before they become too big for you to handle on your own.
Signs that your garage door needs some TLC
Binding – If your garage door is hard to open or close, you may have a binding problem. Other signs that the door is not binding properly include the door getting jammed, the door not fully closing or the door making loud noises when it is opened or closed. For example, your garage door might start to close then stop closing half an inch from the ground.
Cracks or holes in the garage door – Strong storms, rocks being thrown at your garage door or a vehicle, including a bicycle, ramming into your garage can create cracks and holes. You could have cracks or holes in the door if you see chipped paint or dents.
Uneven or imbalanced garage door – Your door should safely open and close with the automatic opener turned off. Test the door by turning the automatic opener off and raising and lowering the door. If the door raises but does not stay open, it could be off balance.
Pests – The main portion of your house isn’t the only place that pests enter and turn into a cozy dwelling. Pests could enter your house through your garage door. Check your door for nests and small openings.
Sensors – If garage door sensors are missing or become damaged, your automatic door opener may not work properly. This could cause the garage door to lower when someone presses the up lever, the very thing that could lead to a minor or major injury. If sensors are not functioning property or are missing,your garage door could also keep lowering after it has touched an object or the ground.
Dry rolls and tracks – When garage door rolls and tracks become dry,the door will not open and close efficiently. Signs that rolls and tracks are too dry include squeaking, squealing or clanging noises. Repairing this problem should be an easy fix. Simply lubricate the rolls and tracks.
Loose joiners – In addition to lubricating rolls and tracks, make sure that hinges are properly lubricated. Also, make sure that garage door bolts and screws are tight. Loose screws and bolts could cause the door to raise and lower slowly or off balance.
Generally, a few minutes a week is all it takes to check your garage door. More thorough inspections should be conducted annually. You can spot signs that there is a problem with your garage door quickly if you know what to look for. Keep your family safe by repairing the door or replacing parts as needed.