The time has come to file for the Homestead Exemption for property taxes. If you have purchased your primary residence in 2013 (resided there as of 1/1/2014), then you can claim the homestead exemption on your property taxes. Homestead Exemption forms can be filed between January 1st and April 30th. In an effort to help make your life a little easier, I have provided the links or phone numbers to download or request the Homestead Exemption forms that apply to all homeowners. The Homestead Exemption forms for those over 65, the disabled, disabled veterans, and surviving spouses are also included.
What is a Homestead Exemption?
In short, a homestead exemption in Texas is an exemption that removes part of the value of your property from being taxed and thereby lowering your property taxes. For example, if your home has a tax appraised value of $100,000 and you qualify for an exemption of $20,000, you pay taxes on your home as if it is only work $80,000.
What Exemptions Are There?
Beyond the standard Homestead Exemption, there are also exemptions for the disabled, seniors over the age of 65, veterans and other local & county exemptions.
The real estate market for the Austin area has shown consecutive growth month after month for almost 2 years now. While it could a great time for any home owner to take advantage of the rise in home values, I think that this time could be a special opportunity for people who own homes that fit the profile and budget for first-time home-buyers. Let me explain…
The huge influx of people to Austin, rising rental rates and low mortgage rates have all contributed to a seemingly ever-rising demand for homes for first-time home-buyers. That demand has caused home prices for those first-time home-buyers to rise as well, increasing the possible equity for home sellers if they chose to sell in this market. Below is a report on the active number of listings on the market in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park & Pflugerville for between $130,000-$180,000, a common price point for many first-time home-buyers. As you can see from the graphic, the number of home available to would-be buyers has recently increased, but is still well below the levels we saw two years ago.
If you own a home in near this price range and think your home might be a great home for a first-time home-buyer, now could be a great opportunity for you to take advantage of your increased equity and move-up to a larger home and also take advantage of the super-low interest rates yourself. If you are considering selling your home, learn how I can help you sell your home for top dollar and deliver a high net to you as well as help you find a new home to move into. Drop me a note if you are interested in finding out the value of your home.
Interested in selling your home and saving some money on commissions? Ask me about my “Move Out, Move Up” program.
#4 – Not Making an Offer When They Find the Right Home
The story starts so promising. A couple is so excited to be looking at homes for the very first time! The window shopping is over; no more are they only looking at pictures online. They just received their pre-approval from their lender – they have the green light to make an offer!
That first Saturday, I show them a half-dozen homes, all of which match most of their key criteria. While each one is appealing in different ways, one stands out above the rest as the “best option so far.” But that’s only the best option so far, right? With a few thousand homes on the market, there certainly is the perfecthome out there waiting for them. So they decide against putting an offer in on this home – we’ll go and look on Monday afternoon and find another good home to compare it with.
We look on Monday, but do not find any homes that are nearly as good as “the one” we visited on Saturday. The problem? The first home is no longer available because the owners accepted an offer on Sunday afternoon. That home is forever remembered as the one that got away.
Lessons & Thoughts
First time home buyers hesitate to place an offer on a home when they just begin, but many of the other buyers they are competing for homes with (yes, it is a competition) have been searching for months already. Also, many homes in the Greater Austin area are selling in only a few days which can further decrease your chances at getting the home you really want. There are a few thoughts I try to make sure my clients understand when we look at homes:
There is no perfect home. I work very hard to match your needs & wants most closely with the homes available on the market, but likely no home has everything you are looking for at the price you can pay.
The market is moving FAST. In April 2013, the average home sold 30% faster than in 2012 and many homes are selling within 72 hrs of going on the market. When you find a home you really like, MAKE AN OFFER!
Be quick but don’t hurry. While I encourage my clients to be decisive, I never want them to feel rushed into a decision. This is the biggest purchase they have ever made – don’t rush into the wrong decision.
Keep the main things the main things. I try to help my clients differentiate the “must haves” from the “nice extras” in their criteria. Because there is no perfect home (see #1), be careful to pass up on a home that really is just what you are looking for though it may be missing a few bonus amenities.
Buying a home for the first time is a very exciting time – you are choosing where you will live for years to come! When you find a great home, MAKE AN OFFER! At the end, I want my clients to know that I am here helping them make the best decision for them. If we miss out on a home they really like, I’m ok with that if they are, because ultimately all that matters is that they are happy and comfortable with whatever decision they make. If you are considering purchasing a home or would like to learn about your options drop me a note. You can also check out my other blog post – What You NEED to Know Before You Buy a Home.