Category Archives for Property Taxes

Why You Might Want to Mark March 31st on Your Calendar

Trivia #1: *Which U.S. billionaire still lives in the home he bought in 1958 for $31,500?

Another fact, Property tax bills comes due by March 31st in Florida and if they are not paid by then they are considered delinquent and could be sold at a public auction after 2 years. So what happens if a homeowner or lender doesn’t know their property taxes are due?

The tax assessors send tax bills to homeowners annually. If you haven’t received your property tax bill, or if your address differs from the one shown on your tax bill and you have a permanent change of address, you need to contact the county to update your mailing address. As investors we sometimes want to maintain our privacy but the tax bill is one area you want to make sure ‘the man’ knows exactly how to find you to deliver the bill and any other notices.

When a property has become so far delinquent that it is headed to the tax deed sale, the county sends out warning letters containing the notice of the auction. The letters go the property’s owners’ last known mailing address as well as other interested parties (lien holders). Although some counties will go the extra mile to research further if a property owners’ correct address, they are not required to bend over backwards to do this additional research.

Homeowners who fail to update their address will not get the tax bill nor the all important Notice of the Auction. This can pose an interesting problem for bidders at the auction. Bidders have to ascertain whether or not the county properly notified the owner in order to prevent the homeowner’s from challenging the sale later. Most counties have been conducting these sales for 100 years or more and are pretty good at notifying the owners and interested parties.

Trivia #2: What time of year is considered the busiest for homebuyers and sellers?

Part of the process involves: Advertising in the local public notice newspaper for several weeks prior to the public auction; It also involves sending regular mail and/or certified mail notices of the sale; There are times when a sheriff’s deputy is sent to serve the ‘interested parties’ with the official warning letter.

The warning letter contains the location of auction, amount of taxes owed, how to payoff the taxes (redeem) as well as how to make the payment to prevent the sale. Buying at the tax deed auction requires that bidders understand the Notification process in order to get marketable title later.

 Tax collectors in Florida send out tax bills in October and offers discounts if the taxes are paid early:

4% discount if paid in November
3% discount if paid in December
2% discount if paid in January
1% discount if paid in February
The gross amount is due in March

*Answers: 1)Warren Buffett 2) The Spring

Property Tax Bills in the Mail!

Some may call it a trick, some a treat but it’s that time of year when the property tax bills are in the mail. Broward County, FL Tax officials mailed out the tax bills on Nov 1st while counties like Orange County mailed the bills out on October 31st (Halloween). Just about all the county tax collectors are sending the tax bills out. Broward County Records, Taxes and Treasury Division has mailed more than 430,000 property tax bills for 2012, which must be paid no later than March 31, 2013 to avoid penalties and delinquency fees. Property taxes may be paid as early as November 1, 2012, to take advantage of discounts. A 4 percent discount applies to taxes paid in November; a 3 percent discount applies in December; a 2 percent discount in January; and a 1 percent discount in February. Property owners without mortgages, or those who do not make use of an escrow arrangement, may pay their taxes in person or by mail to any of the tax collectors throughout Florida. You can also make partial payments throughout the year but you have to contact the tax collector’s office to take advantage of the program. Find your tax collector’s office here.
Originally posted to Blog on 11/5/2012


What is a Homestead Exemption

The deadline for filing for your Homestead Exemptions is March 1st for many counties.

Homestead Exemption is a tax reduction for homeowners who make their property their permanent residence. If approved, this exemption could reduce the taxable value of your residence by up to $50,000. The first $25,000 of this exemption applies to all taxing authorities. The second $25,000 of exemption excludes School Board taxes and applies to properties with assessed values between $50,000 and $75,000. As a result, the homeowner would get a substantial savings on their property taxes.

Homeowners must file an initial application once they have moved into the property. The Homestead Exemption will be automatically renewed each year and a renewal receipt will be mailed to them as long as NO changes have occurred to their exemption status. (i.e. mailing address, marital status, etc.)

Other Types of Exemptions: Senior (amounts vary), Widow’s/Widower’s ($500), Disability ($5,000), Blind , and Disability.
The type of exemption benefiting the largest number of property-owners is the homestead exemption. If you own property which you use as your primary residence as of January 1, you may apply for homestead exemption. . This will reduce the taxable value of your home up to $50,000, resulting in substantial savings on your property taxes.

Originally posted to Blog on 2/9/2012

Mortgage Company Fights Tax Deed Sale

One of the most popular questions people ask me, “Do bank mortgages really get wiped out by a tax deed sale?” Yes! As long as the bank was properly notified.
Recently an Appeals Court ruled against a mortgage company that tried to fight a tax deed sale. This all started about a year ago when Wells Fargo (formerly Wachovia) received notice that one of their Indiana properties they had a mortgage on was going to the tax deed sale. Instead of SOUNDING THE ALARMS at the bank (or going to DEFCON 1!) they sat on the notice and didn’t do anything until it was too late. Indiana like most tax deed states notifies mortgage holders of pending tax sales, Florida gives the lender at least 20 days to respond. Apparently nearly a month’s notice is just not enough time for the these banks to take action.
I often watch properties with a mortgage go to tax deed sale and sure enough, the larger the bank the less likely they will redeem the property in time. I don’t know if it is because these corporations are so big that information crawls at a slow pace up the corporate ladder or they just get more mail than they can handle. By the time the notice is given to someone who would know better… it’s too late. In most cases these notices are sent Certified Mail, which should indicate to the person receiving the mail… THIS MIGHT BE IMPORTANT. All I can say is their loss is sometimes a tax deed investors’ gain.

Wells Fargo fought the sale in trial court and when they lost there they filed an appeal. Wachovia appealed on the basis that they believed the notice should have been sent to an executive officer or agent of the company instead of how the State Law governing tax deeds dictates. This October the Appeals court ruled against them. Wells Fargo lost the case and their mortgage.

Indiana law says — Each tax sale notice must be sent to the owner of record at the last known address of the owner and to “any person with a substantial interest of public record at the address for the person included in the public record that indicates the interest.”

You can read more about the ruling in the Court of Appeals’ opinion .

Originally posted to Blog on  12/6/2011

Are your property taxes too high?

If you disagree with your real estate property value, tangible personal property value, or your exemptions, you should first contact someone at the county property appraiser’s office. IF you are still unable to resolve the matter, you may file a petition with the County Value Adjustment Board. They will review your complaint, send out an inspector to look at your property and may even have a hearing to discuss your situation. There is a small fee for filing the petition with the Value Adjustment Board. Most counties require you turn in your petition in the fall.

You can contact your county property appraiser by finding your county in our list by clicking here . Here’s an excerpt from an interesting story we found on about these assessments.

“The tax man cometh: How much more will you pay?“ By:

Larry Shubert is a snoop.

As a property tax assessor for the city, he’ll go to great lengths to find out how much your house is worth. He’ll inspect your deed, figure out the age of the bricks in your home, and even sprint around your property. Today, he’s walking around Roxborough (Philadelphia, PA) assessing houses.

“This is going to be the first house that’s going to be a little bit of a challenge because you look at it and you go, ‘OK, What is it?’ First of all, it looks like a one-story from here,” says Shubert. “But I think a side view will give you a better idea. See, now looking from that end it doesn’t look like anything. From over here you got a side door, you got a two-car detached garage. You actually have a half a story.”

It’s not easy to trick him. If you thought you’d be able to build that deck without the city noticing, forget it. He’ll watch you from above, too.

“We take aerial views of the properties,” says Shubert. “Now this particular property I wasn’t sure whether we’d be able to see anything from the rear or not. Well here it shows that there’s an addition on the back. It’s a sunroom. Now I have to go back and check to see if that’s on our books.”

Maybe you’ve seen Shubert or one of the city’s other 65 tax assessors around town. They’re re-assessing all 577,000 properties in Philadelphia, in an attempt to fix the city’s broken property-tax system. For years it assessed people’s homes unfairly and inaccurately.

So what are they looking for, exactly?

“We’re trying to get the characteristics on each house,” says Shubert. “In other words … bedrooms, baths, kitchen, living room, dining room, basement, whether it’s finished or not, what kind of heat they have.”

The assessors’ work will bring some folks’ taxes down, and others’ up — which is frightening for homeowners. Especially because, all told, the city expects to collect more after the re-assessment than before it.

That means Shubert sometimes gets yelled at. Even by old ladies.

He’s jotting down notes outside of Theresa Conroy’s home in Roxborough when she pokes her head out of the door. He introduces himself, and she warns him not to raise her property taxes — or else.

“I’m gonna get pretty damn mad!” she says.

This doesn’t keep Shubert from genuinely digging his job. As he walks down the street in Roxborough with Richie McKeithen, the city’s chief assessment office, they talk about the thrill of figuring out how much homes are worth. Seriously.

“When you put a value on the house and it sells for about that, that’s like, wow!” says McKeithen. “That’s almost as good as, like, hitting a number or something. It’s a rush.”

It’s a good thing that Shubert likes his job. Because he’ll have to assess 13,000 properties in Northwest Philly, about twice as many as one assessor should have to do. The city’s Office of Property Assessment is understaffed.

“When you have 13,000 accounts, it’s a lot. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff to do,” says Shubert, adding that a “25-unit new construction could take me two days.”

The Nutter administration says it’s planning to hire about 70 more assessors soon. Still, this raises concerns about the quality of work the assessors will be able to do.

The data that Shubert collects is just the first step in the complex process of assessing. The city also must consider how much nearby homes are selling for, and send assessors out again this spring to double-check their data.

Mayor Nutter wants to finish this by next fall, which would mean updated property tax bills by 2013. But since fixing the property-tax system will require cooperation among the Nutter administration, City Council and the state, it’s not a done deal.
(original article located at: )

Originally posted to Blog on 12/5/2011

Just Say NO to high property taxes — It’s yor RIGHT.

If you believe the Property Appraiser’s market value for your property is higher than the market value of your property as of this past January 1, you are encouraged to contact your Property Appraiser’s office. Often times the Deputy Property Appraisers will happily meet with you and discuss your market value and how it was calculated. If you still feel your market value is too high, you can file a simple petition with what many municipalities call the Value Adjustment Board. You can find most of those forms online at your local property appraiser’s site. There may be a filing fee and most have a September deadline.

Tips on reducing your assessed value:

• Before you make your appeal, make sure to ask the county or municipality to district to provide you with the homes they used to compare yours to and set its value. Those homes are called the “Comps” or Comparative Market Analysis.

• Then you should research and make sure their comps match your comps.

• You can also add photos to your research. Those photos can be used to show that your home is not comparable to the homes they chose. Appraisers will not know about all the remodeling work, additions or other work that could be making the house next door worth more than yours

• If you live in Florida, keep in mind that Appraisers can now use foreclosures and short sales as comps. That could be good news if you want to get the assessments on your home lowered. However if you are trying to sell a home this will have a negative effect on the value of your property. This means your buyer’s appraiser may also use short sales and foreclosure when evaluating your property’s value.

Provide reputable documentation such as building permits

• Document contributing factors such as termites, foundation issues, flood plain and other such issues

• Use the MLS if it supports your cause. If you have been unable to sell your home on the MLS and it is listed for LESS than what your municipality is assessing it at, you might have an even better case. The longer the listing the better the case.

• If you paid less for your house than the current assessments, bring your closing papers and that year’s tax bill.

The process is very simple but you have to do your homework. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, hire someone. There are professionals who specialize in making appeals on property tax assessments for a fee.

Originally posted to Blog on 8/7/2009

More than 200,000 Home Owners Get Bad News in California

237,166 Home Owners Behind on Taxes in One California County

CBS News in Los Angeles, California is reporting that 237,166 property owners will be receiving property tax delinquent notices for the 2008-09 tax year. Property Taxes go into default on July 1st in Los Angeles County. After July 1st, property owners will be charged a penalty of 1.5 percent per month until the taxes are paid. California is a Tax Deed state so the opportunity to invest in the tax liens on those properties does not exist however you can buy the property at the Tax Sale. After 5 years of unpaid taxes the property can be sold at a Tax Auction. Commercial Property can be sold at auction after 3 years. LA County will be selling their tax defaulted properties on August 17th and 18th. The properties that will be auctioned are only listed in a book that you must purchase. Contact us at for more information on this sale.
Originally published in Blog on 6/10/2009