Homestead Exemption

Every tax season is a nightmare. This little tidbit of knowledge can help ease the burden of taxes this year. This tax season save money on your home with the Homestead Exemption. It is an exemption of the assessed valuation.

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A homestead is any structure, condominium or home located on owned or leased land as long as the individual lives in it. It can include up to 20 acres as long as it is owned by the homeowner and used for a purpose related to residential use. The exemption removes part of your home’s value from taxation thus lowering your taxes. Not all homes qualify; only the principal residence of the homeowner.


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To qualify you must be a resident of Oklahoma and the homeowner that resides on the property by January 1st with the deed executed before January 1st and filed with the County Clerks Office before February 1st. You may file it for two years up to the delinquency date. Once you have applied for and granted the Homestead Exemption then you do not have to continue applying as long as you continue to occupy the homestead home.


pexels-photo-296886.jpegYou may even be able to apply for an additional exemption if you qualify for the original homestead exemption and are head of the household. There are several options including county, school, disabled, optional percentage and senior tax exemptions. This is potentially another $1000 if your total annual income did not exceed $20,000 the previous year. Apply today from our Oklahoma County Assessor site.

 

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Quick Rental Fixer Uppers

Keeping your rental unit looking its best can be tricky. You want it to look great but also don’t want to spend a lot because it’s purpose is to bring you income and not the other way around. Fortunately, there are some low cost ways to ensure your rental looks modern and well groomed before your next potential renter tours their future abode.


 

The first place renters are going to see is the front door area such as the foyer or entryway. This area should be a large focus since it is what creates the first impression. Tile that matches the kitchen or vinyl is a clean refreshment to this area that will tie it together. The kitchen is also a main interest of buyers. You will want the cabinetry to be appealing. If they need a little love then an easy way to do this is to wipe on a little liquid scratch if they are in fairly good condition. If they are in need of loads of love, then cover them in contact paper or paneling. Once accomplished and they still don’t meet your satisfaction, replace the knobs with some cool trendy ones to finish the motif.


 

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The sink and faucet fixtures should be in good repair. Unable to replace them right now? Paint them. Yes, I said it. There are plenty of tutorials out there on your to paint your sink and fixtures, and not the terrible paint jobs like the painted tub in your college efficiency. I was a non-believer until my own mother, who is craftier in ways I will never be, painted her sink a dark gray and it was stunning. No one could even tell that she didn’t buy it like that.


 

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Light fixtures and ceiling fans are a cheap investment that can update a space. Choose fixtures that are all matching colors and finishes to be consistent throughout the rooms. Are your switch plates ugly? New switch plates and plugs can also achieve a fresh and subtle look. New trim can liven up your borders. Especially if you current trim is cracked or worn, it can make a house seem outdated and unkempt. Off white Mini-blinds are so boring. Change them out with wood blinds, curtains, or shades to go from disgust to upper crust in minutes.

There are plenty of ways to make an old space look new. All you have to do is think outside the toolbox.

 

 MelissaBarnett.com

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Home Appraisal 101!

Appraisals estimate a home’s value with fresh eyes

Just because you and the sellers have agreed on a price doesn’t mean it’s a done deal—your lender needs to be on board, too. After all, it’s the lender’s investment as well.

Enter stage left: The appraiser.

While the process is somewhat similar to getting comps—as you did to determine a fair price—appraisers delve in much farther to determine the home’s exact value.

They’ll investigate the condition, the square footage, location, and any additions or renovations. Another key difference is that when you looked at the comps, you were probably hoping for a specific outcome—perhaps even some flaw that you could use as a bargaining chip to lower the price.

Appraisers, on the other hand, are trained to be unbiased, says Adam Wiener, the founder of Aladdin Appraisal in Auburndale, MA. “I don’t care what anybody wants the home to be worth,” he says.“I’ll give you the answer. You may not like it, but it’s the answer.”

You’ll get a copy of the appraisal, too

Appraisers set out to determine if the home is actually worth what you’re planning to pay. You might be surprised how little time that takes; they could be in and out of a home in 30 minutes, and that’s not a reason to panic. Appraisers aren’t home inspectors, who examine every little detail. While they’ll pay particular attention to problems with the foundation and roof, appraisers also note the quality and condition of the appliances, plumbing, flooring, and electrical system. With data in hand, they make their final assessment and give their report to the lender. The mortgage company is then required by law to give a copy of the appraisal to you.

Appraisers work for your lender—not you

As the buyer, you’ll be paying for the appraisal. In most cases, the fee is wrapped into your closing costs and will set you back only $300 to $400. However, just because you pay doesn’t mean you’re the client.

“My client is the lender, not the buyer,” Wiener says. This ensures that appraisers remain ethical—in fact, it’s a crime to coerce or put any pressure on an appraiser to hit a certain value. Appraisers must remain independent. “Anything less, and public trust in the appraisal is lost,” says Wiener.

They protect buyers from a bad deal

In essence, an appraisal is meant to protect you (and the lender) from a bad purchase. For instance: If the appraisal comes in higher than your asking price, it’s generally fine. Sure, the sellers could decide they want more money and would rather put their home back on the market, but in most cases, the deal will go through as expected.

If your appraisal comes in lower than what you offered, this is where things get tricky: Your lender won’t pony up more money than the appraised price. So if you and the sellers agree on $125,000 but the appraisal comes in at $105,000, it creates a $20,000 shortfall. What’s a buyer to do? Read on.

A curveball appraisal isn’t necessarily the end

If the appraisal comes in low and your contract with the seller was contingent on an appraisal, you could walk away and have your earnest money returned. If you prefer to buy the home anyway (or waived your appraisal contingency), there are some other paths you can pursue:

  • Come up with the extra cash to cover the difference between the appraisal and offer price
  • Ask the seller to cover the difference
  • Challenge the appraisal and pay for a second opinion.

Keep in mind, though, that your new report could come out identical. Also keep in mind that if you do choose to walk away, that’s actually good news, although it may not seem like it at the time. Why? Because the appraisal kept you from paying too much for your home.

Once your appraisal is done, you’re still not ready to close without an inspection. Often the most nerve-racking part of the process, the inspection can reveal deal-breaking flaws like mold, foundation problems, and roofing issues. Learn how to survive the inspection in the next installment of our Home-Buying Guide next week.