Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Q: My property taxes went up again this year!

The County can’t spend it fast enough, I guess, but I thought there was some kind of control on how much tax we had to pay. They backed off a little bit a couple of years ago but this is getting to be just too much. Our assessment is way more than our house is worth!

A: There are several comments I’d like to share with you about property taxes. The first one is that our current assessments are still well below market value.  (Don’t tell the tax assessor I said so!)  I looked up your current assessment and can assure you that your home would sell for a lot more.  In addition, the rate does fluctuate slightly but only because of the levies and bond issues we pass for ourselves, in our own community. The County itself only gets 11.6% of our property tax money. The biggest chunk goes to our schools. When you combine the state’s base school tax and our own locally approved school taxes, that eats up 48.83% of our property taxes. Why?  Because we wanted to have a beautiful new high school. It was worth it!  We’ve also voted ourselves better fire and emergency services to the tune of 10.87% of our taxes.  It isn’t the base tax rate that goes up, it’s the cost of local services we want and we vote for.  If you check the property tax site for King County you will see that we had a dip in assessed value in 2010, 2011 and again in 2012 because of the drop in market value due to the recession. In 2013 we jumped back up in value and took an even larger jump for 2014. That is reflective of our improved real estate market. We all want low taxes but high values for our homes. That just doesn’t work. If our homes are worth more, the taxes go up. One quick suggestion; check to see if you qualify for the County’s senior property tax rate or Washington State’s low income rate.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Q: I know you don’t represent me since I’m the seller and you only represent buyers, but I think you should be the one I talk to about a delicate matter.

I’m very happy that you’re helping that nice young couple buy my home. But I feel that I have to tell you that I have a number of cats buried in the garden. I have lived here so long that I’ve lost several wonderful cats and I loved them all. I planted a rose bush over each one. I thought I’d better tell somebody so that they don’t have a bad experience if they dig up the garden and find the kitties. I’m a sentimental old woman and I know they probably won’t care but I thought I’d better say something.

A: I’m a sentimental old woman myself and I’m glad you shared this information. I spoke to my clients about your rose garden and they were touched by your story. Not only will they tend the roses and honor your little pet cemetery, but they told me they would continue the tradition when their own pets die.  Many people bury their pets on their own property and that can add to the sadness some folks feel when they have to sell. Knowing that new owners will honor those places can bring comfort to a seller. Whoever buys my home (in the distant future, of course) will be inheriting three buried sheep, two dogs, four cats and many chickens, and that’s just at this point. It’s important, I believe, to learn personal things about the property you are buying if at all possible. New owners have no history with the property so may not realize that a gnarled old tree still produces great cherries, or that a special bush was a cutting planted 50 years ago, or that some of the perennials are prize winners. It often makes me feel bad when new owners start ripping and tearing up property without taking the time to learn what’s there. Every property has a history. We should all learn it.