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2015, Your Home & The start of a New Year!

By Don Baker in Blogs.

Happy New Year!!! with a new year comes responsibilities with your home. If you purchased your home in 2014, here are a couple of things that I want to bring to your attention.

1) In the Great State of Texas you can Homestead your property. This is not automatically implemented. You must take the steps to file your homestead exemption with county tax office that your property resides in. Word of warning, Do Not Pay Someone To Do This For You! You will receive phone calls or mail soliciting the filing of your homestead exemption. If your not sure how to file your homestead exemption, contact me & I’ll explain the procedure. In some counties, you can file your homestead exemption electronically. I’ll even help your family or friends that may need to file. Not sure if you need to file your homestead exemption? Contact me, I’ll look up your property & let you know. A Texas Homestead Exemption defined;   Although a person’s homestead is primarily a question of intent, it must be based in a real property interest. For example, neither a mobile home nor a boat qualify. A vacant lot, however, can be homestead if the owner has reasonable expectations of building a home on it; a leasehold estate (rental property) can be a homestead; a life estate may also qualify; and even a beneficial interest in a trust that holds real estate can be homestead. Homestead protection applies to realty and fixtures, not movable personal property.  A person may claim either an urban homestead (not more than 10 acres of land in one or more continuous lots) or rural homestead (for a family, not more than 200 acres in one or more parcels; for a single adult person, not more than 100 acres in one or more parcels). To qualify, the homestead must be used either for residential homestead or as both residential homestead and business homestead. The act of living upon and utilizing real property settles the issue of whether or not it is homestead. Once property has been dedicated as homestead, it can only lose such designation by abandonment, alienation or death. A family may only have one homestead. Individual family members may not claim separate homesteads.

2) The Tax Value of your home is not the same as the Appraised Value of your home. Tax value is the value the county determines in order to collect tax yearly on your property. Appraised value is the value given to the your lender by an appraiser for the purpose to determine how much the lender will loan you on that property. But if there is a significant difference between the two, for example, if your property was appraised for your lender at $150,000 & the county has your taxable value at $180,000, you can contest the value with your county. In order to contest the value, you must have owned your property since January 1 of the year you’re filing the form. In some cases, the form is online. If your appraisal was done over 90-120 days, I recommend contacting me & I will work up a Comparative Market Analysis. This analysis will give you a range of value that I think the current market will bear. Each county has their own form that you fill out to request a date to meet the committee & formally present your documentation showing why you’re contesting the taxable value of your home. Some counties include the form in a section of the tax statement that they mail to your home. Again,beware of persons or companies soliciting to do this for you. If you have any family or friends that need assistance with contesting or have questions, feel free to give them my contact information.

May you have a Happy, Safe & Prosperous New Year!!!