by Hope Teller

According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. properties are assessed 30% higher than their actual worth.  If you think your home is assessed higher than its worth, you may file an appeal.  Be sure to research how your local government assesses properties before determining the accuracy of your home assessment.  Appraisers will commonly assess homes based on the assessments of other homes sold in the area in order to come to a market value.  The assessment ratio then determines the taxable value of your home.  You can also go to your local assessor’s office and obtain a record card to check for any errors on your home, such as square footage or number of rooms; if incorrect, you could get a reduction in your assessment.

There are also other ways to increase the value and enhance the appeal of your home but won’t break the bank. You can paint a room or two in your home to brighten the area and make the old look new again.  The average cost of painting 900 square feet with one coat is around $150 by doing it yourself; by getting it professionally done, it would be around $800.  Another way to increase value is to update your flooring.  If there are wooden floors beneath your carpet, you can rip up the carpet and get the floors sanded.  You can also replace the floors in the kitchen or bathroom with vinyl flooring, which is easy to install.  Thirdly, you can give your cabinets a makeover.  The key to good looking, longer lasting cabinets is to clean, sand, prime, and paint your cabinets with an oil-based or 100% acrylic paint.  To do it yourself to do one coat paint on 150 square feet of cabinets is $110 versus $547 with a pro.

Another way to cut costs is to know how much you can afford on your monthly payments.  Your monthly payment consists of loan principal and interest, private mortgage insurance, property taxes, homeowners insurance, and homeowners association dues if applicable.  Ask around for the best rate you can qualify for without any discount points (interest you pay upfront to reduce the rate).  Each lender will provide you with a GFE, good faith estimate, which provides you guaranteed rates and costs.  Furthermore, you can save on tax breaks, such as if you operate from home in a home office.  Those who work from home can have a nice amount of tax breaks; usually they can write off their biggest expenses which include their mortgage interest and property taxes.  Home office expenses allow you to claim a portion of utility and repair bills, especially the part of your home used as the home office.  Other tax breaks for home office workers includes 100% health insurance premiums for the business owner and his/her family, office equipment expenses, business meals and travel, and small-business retirement plans up to 25% of income.

Just remember when buying or selling your home, there are many ways to cut costs.  You can shop settlement services, lender fees, rates, and ways to increase the value of your home.  Doing updates to your home yourself instead of professionally saves you money but can also increase the look and enhance the appeal of your home.  Remember to research what tax breaks you can get when you work from home, travel due to business, or work in a home office.  Never settle with one good faith estimate you are provided from one lender, shop around, weigh all the pros and cons that will save you money, and find the best option for you and your family.


photo by