Dallas Fort Worth real estate news, local home price trends, statistics, and profitable insights written by Chandler Crouch Realtors.

Aug. 28, 2020

I Can't Afford My House Payment. What are my options?

 

My tax bill is too high. I can’t afford the house but if I buy in the same market its pointless so I’m just going to sit here.

Here are a list of options to consider...

  1. Ask us for a free insurance quote. Your house payment likely includes taxes, insurance, principle, and mortgage interest. If your payment has increased, there is a good chance your insurance rates have increased. Many people are significantly overpaying. We have expert insurance agents on staff that shop A-rated insurance carriers and get them to compete to provide the best quote… for free. We save some clients a ton of money. Just send us an email and we’ll be happy to get you a free quote.  
  2. Reduce your utility cost. This company is saving Chandler over $250/mo on average (and it only costs $10/mo!!!). It’s borderline magical. We wanted to offer the same service to you, so we partnered with them. Use this link to sign up, and you get the exact same service paying the exact same as you would if you went directly to them. The only difference is by using our link they agree to contribute $2 to help fund our free tax protest service for every person that signs up. Go here to see how much you can save. 
  3. Reduce your utility consumption. Here are 50 ideas that can help reduce your electricity consumption. 
  4. Ask your mortgage company to spread out your escrow shortage over 24 months. If you have a mortgage and your monthly payment has increased in the past year or so, it is likely due to an escrow shortage because your taxes and/or insurance have gone up. Your mortgage company likely uses a 12-month payment plan by default to pay off your escrow shortage, but they usually don't tell you that you have additional options. To help lower your payment just call your mortgage company and simply ask them if you can pay out the escrow shortage over 2-3 years. Most of the time they just say yes without any issue or push back. A 10-minute phone call could drop your payment by hundreds. I’m keeping track of which companies agree to this and which ones won’t. Please let me know if your mortgage company agrees to spread out your escrow shortage or refuses. It will help me help others. Here’s what I have so far: Status on Mtg co’s
  5. Triple check to make sure your exemptions are in place. The appraisal district can actually cancel your exemptions anytime without a great reason, such as, if mail they send you is returned undeliverable. This video shows how to verify your homestead exemption is in place in Tarrant County.  If you find out you need to file, this page provides the form you need, step by step instructions, and a video to that answers all your questions.  Go here to get the form you'll need and a tutorial video that will answer all your questions and demonstrate how to fill out the form. 
  6. Buy a smaller house - Obvious, but it's still an option. Hard times call for hard decisions.
  7. Moving far enough away so you would be in a different tax district. Either a…
    • Different county
    • Different school district
    • Move out of your neighborhood if it has a PID (public improvement district)
  8. Move to a rural area so you avoid city tax all together
  9. Rent. Would it help if I had a list of every rent house and every apartment in the area that fits your price range?
  10. Move into a house that doesn’t have an HOA
  11. Move-in with a friend/family
  12. Buy bigger so you can rent out rooms
  13. Buy a house with a garage apartment and rent out the apartment
  14. Live in an RV (sounds crazy, but I routinely sell houses because people are doing this more and more)
  15. Consider a condo or townhouse
  16. Buy a barndominium
  17. Move into a tiny house
  18. Build a shipping container house
  19. Buy with land so you can raise animals, crops, eggs, and sell stuff to offset housing expenses.
  20. Rent out your current house and move into another home to create extra income.
  21. Biggest issue: Solve the cash-flow crunch by making extra income
    • This article & video covers at-home in-quarantine ideas
    • Sell your possessions (garage sales / online classifieds etc)
    • Eliminate debt
    • Cut down on luxury items
    • Rent out space in your garage to allow (item or vehicle) storage for other people
    • Rent out an extra bedroom on Airbnb 
    • Start an in-home business - childcare, adult care (skilled nurses/caretakers), pet care (boarding, walking), sell home-baked goods, make crafts to sell on Etsy, volunteer to host parties for MLM friends
    • Profit from your yard: Plant berries, vegetables, flowers to sell, make compost from worms
    • Provide fulfillment (boxing and shipping) services for other home-based entrepreneurs
    • Allow people to shoot movies/film at your house: https://gov.texas.gov/film/page/your_property_in_films

Have more ideas? We want to share them. Please email them to us at chandler@chandlercrouch.net

  • Options we’re trying to avoid, but are still viable options to consider
    • Stop making payments… forbearance, bankruptcy, foreclosure
Aug. 13, 2020

Tax Protest Update

We are at the final stage of this year's tax protest. Everybody's tax protest results will be available soon.

TAD's sent a little yellow postcard with a web address and it means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! It has caused unnecessary stress and concern to everybody. It was part of the SP2 bill that was passed. 

TAD was required to provide transparency into who receives the money when you pay your tax bill. That website is an attempt to give you an idea of where you're money is going to and what you can do if you want to protest the tax rate. 

I've got videos here that explain how you can go about protesting the tax rate. 

There's nothing to be concerned about. The website they made is good but they just need to work on the bugs out of it. It seems to be changing every now and then.

We will get your protest results soon and just watch your email. We should have it on your inbox in about a week.

Posted in Property Tax
June 10, 2020

Why So Many Protests in Tarrant County

Why So Many Protests in Tarrant County

The number of protests per county have increased dramatically, but why has Tarrant increased so much more than other counties? The issue is gaining attention.

Here are the numbers. This is the percentage increase per county since 2015:

 

"Harris County 11%

Bexar County 27%

Travis County 36%

Dallas County 50%

Tarrant County 265%!!!

Seriously? What's up with that?"

(Posted on Facebook by TAD Board Member Rich DeOtte)

Here is a link to his research

 

I've been trying to objectively consider this. 

Increased protests may be an indication of a good thing or bad thing. 

Regardless, I wholeheartedly agree that answering the question about the cause of increased protests is among the most important tasks that TAD can focus on, and it is of high public interest. TAD is considering an audit to reveal the cause.

 

Positive Perspective:

TAD has received glowing reports/audits of various kinds (eg financial, cyber security). If TAD's increased protests are an indication of uniquely good appraisal practices, they should be proud and wear their protest numbers as a badge of honor because they are doing a public service by helping owners that are being mistreated because of the flawed property tax code that TAD is forced to abide by. 

 

Negative Perspective:

If you believe the Tidwell Weaver audit, the increase could be evidence of a persisting significant dysfunction that cannot be ignored. 

 

These are the theories I've heard that people have used to explain the increase. I can easily dismiss many, however until someone seeks to find the answer, nobody will really know:

 

  1. Instant answer/automated protest made available by TAD
  2. More Agents protesting significantly more than other counties
  3. Chandler Crouch protesting for free
  4. More advertising/advocating promoting protesting
  5. Tarrant starting earlier contributes to more attention
  6. More properties are valued incorrectly compared to other counties 
  7. Residual effects of 2014/15 software debacle (perhaps people lost trust causing a spike)
  8. Its easier to win in Tarrant so the success of reductions attract more protesters
  9. ARB panels are friendlier
  10. TAD does a great job being more organized, accessible, and educational
  11. It's not actually higher in Tarrant, we just count them differently
  12. 2015/16 low values caused TAD to overcorrect which created a shock effect that motivated property owners (if true, watch out in 2021. ouch)
  13. Property values have increased more in Tarrant than other places

Why do you think so many more people protest in Tarrant County than anywhere else?

Posted in Property Tax
May 22, 2020

How to Eliminate Property Taxes

Protesting is a great idea, but wouldn't it be nice to eliminate the need to pay property taxes?

This link explains a feasible way to eliminate a significant portion of the property taxes: https://files.texaspolicy.com/uploads/2018/06/21170102/Robin-Hood-School-Property-Tax-Belew-Sass-Ginn-Peacock.pdf

 

On a live stream video aired 5/22/2020 Chandler Robert Montoya and Fran Rhodes discuss what you can do to make sure local governments don't increase property taxes. 

 

 https://texasscorecard.com/metroplex/keller-isd-rewards-pro-bond-vendor-with-taxpayer-backed-bond-money/?highlight=VLK

Posted in Property Tax
May 18, 2020

Property Tax Consultants Chandler Recommends

Every professional tax agent/consultant offers a different level of service and they often specialize in certain property types. The best way to make sure you are getting the tax agent that specializes in the area's most important to you top notch service is to talk with a few different agents and compare what they offer.

These are agents that I have had personal experience with and would feel comfortable hiring myself:

  • PropertyTaxLock.com promo code Chandler2020
  • IntegraTax
    • info@integratax.net
  • The Gallagher Firm
    • www.tgfpllc.com promo code: 2020PCR10
  • www.OlaTax.com
    • Bobby Ola
Posted in Property Tax
April 17, 2020

Texas CAD Websites

Appraisal Districts without websites:
Borden, Irion, Briscoe, Kenedy, Cochran, Oldham, Foard, Hardeman, Throckmorton, Hemphill.

Download this list as a PDF document.

Here's another list with contact information.

 

These are organizations we're learning about:

 

 

Posted in Community, Property Tax
April 17, 2020

Protesting Property Tax Value Without Appearing In Person Using an Affidavit

This year, we have a unique situation in which we don’t want to get around anybody to avoid health risks due to COVID-19. With your property tax protest this year, you may want to utilize an option that most people don’t know anything about.

 

This is the Property Owner's Affidavit of Evidence form to use on your property tax protest.

 

This is the same form that you would file if you go to the Appraisal District and file for a formal protest. This sheet of paper and any evidence that you attach along with it will appear in the formal protest hearing instead of you. You don’t have to go at all!

Let the form do the work for you . . .

  • Fill the form. Fill in all the necessary information. On Section 3 (Reason for Protest), we usually check the box for Incorrect appraised market value, but feel free to check other boxes. You’re not going to be able to elaborate verbally so you have to make sure to keep your argument as objective as possible.
  • Assemble your evidence. Gather all the evidence that could help with your protest. Below are the best evidence that can be used to guarantee a reduction.
    • Sale comparison - sales of other properties similar to yours
    • Condition evidence - quotes from contractors, photos of repair issues on your house
  • Submit. Have a notary sign it. Sign the document in front of a Notary then send the documents to the Appraisal District. 

What happens during the formal protest?

TAD will conduct a regular formal hearing. Somebody will read this document and present your evidence.The Appraisal District will state their side of the case and the three-person panel will deliberate and will come to a conclusion on how much your property would be. They’ll arrive at a conclusion, wrap up the hearing and you’ll get the final value.

 

This is something that you might want to utilize if you don’t want to go in person but still want to protest your value. Happy protesting!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Property Tax
April 1, 2020

North Texas Property Tax Appraisal Notices Delayed By COVID-19 Pandemic

Property appraisal notices usually sent to owners on or around April 1, will be delayed this year because of closures caused by COVID-19.

Tarrant Appraisal District

The Tarrant Appraisal District just announced that they are delaying sending out property tax value notices until May 1, 2020.

Jeff Law, chief appraiser for the Tarrant Appraisal District, states that TAD will honor protest filings up to June 1, 2020. The appraisals will be based on local market data as of January 1, 2020. But if the local market data presented to TAD that indicates the current health crisis has impacted your market value as of January 1, that information may be taken into consideration.

TAD encourages people to file their protests online at tad.org because that would be the safest and healthiest approach for everyone.

On a side note, taxing entities are also asking to delay the implementation of Senate Bill 2 rate caps. The Senate Bill 2 provision  attempts to constrain school district property taxes. In the meantime, it is still up in the air until the stay at home orders are lifted.

Dallas Central Appraisal District 

The Dallas Central Appraisal District is planning to mail Real Property Appraisal Notices on May 15, with a June 15 protest deadline date assuming the Shelter In Place Declaration is not extended. The earliest the protest deadline will be for properties in Dallas County is June 15 (not May 15).

While DCAD’s physical office is closed until April 30 due to the Shelter In Place Declaration, DCAD is still conducting business remotely.

For 2020, it’s highly likely that there will be no face-to-face informals, so everyone is encouraged to use their online programs to conduct business remotely. Tax consultants will be advised in early May on how the exchange of information will be handled during the 2020 ARB Process. Please note that before DCAD will engage in any remote value discussions with agents or owners, they will first need to file a protest for 2020. DCAD encourage everyone who intends to file a 2020 protest to file the protest as soon as possible so that we can begin the process of value settlement discussions. 

With regard to the BPP Rendition deadline, which has been extended to May 15 for all, DCAD suggest to use the Online BPP Rendition system or send your BPP renditions electronically as opposed to sending them via the US Mail. Also, please file sooner than later so they have ample time to review and process them. If you have already mailed them through the US mail, then if possible please e-mail a PDF of your filings so they can process them electronically and the staff can review them remotely. The BPP e-mail address is bppcs@dcad.org.

Denton County Appraisal District

The Denton County Appraisal District will start mailing out the notices in the last week of April. They are encouraging online or by-phone appeal process. 

Collin County Appraisal District

Collin County also has no set dates in mailing out value notices.

What to Expect

The protest process may look completely different this year. The appraisal districts are still trying to figure out how they can legally reorganize the entire system to allow avenues to protest and come to an agreement of a fair value without having to appear in person.

Since the proposed values are going to be the values based on the local market data as of January 1, 2020, more people may want to protest a higher value this year to keep their taxes from increasing significantly.

The appraisal districts are making health their primary concern. They want to do what they can to avoid in-person protests as much as possible. They are going to be as generous as they can justify.

Tax Protest Advice

It is highly encouraged to use the downtime to start collecting estimates from contractors about repairs that may need to be done. You should take photos and become well-acquainted with the condition of your house so you are ready when it is time to protest.

If the appraisal districts are willing to settle and it is fair or close to fair, please accept it. Remember that you owe it to you and your family to make sure the value is reasonable.

March 30, 2020

Emergency Food Preparedness - Which Canned Meats Will Kids Eat

In case of emergency, you have to consider what you would eat. Now, you go to Walmart and you cannot see anything anymore but some canned meat product. If you are gonna prepare, you need to make sure that what you are gonna buy has long shelf life and most importantly, you need to make sure that your kids will love them. Find out what canned meat these kids would eat in case of emergency.

Choices of Potted Meat

The Verdict

March 27, 2020

Overcoming Public School at Home Difficulties During Coronavirus Quarantine

Everyone is compelled to stay at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. With classes being suspended, we have realized that transitioning from the public school setting is not a walk in the park. It is even way different than homeschooling. And we, as parents are trying to figure this out.

Children are accustomed to being in public school. Now coming home, the whole world has changed. And now, parents need to embrace this totally new concept.

Maintaining Emotional Stability

  • Know that your reactions are going to feed your child's reactions.  So if you're freaking out, they freak out too because they feel it.
  • Cut yourself a break from social media. It only shows picture perfect moments that make you doubt yourself.
  • Find success in the day. Celebrate small wins with your spouse or kids and know that you are doing the best you can.
  • Give grace. Give yourself grace, give the teachers grace, give the kids grace.
  • Focus on the fact that this is an incredible time to spend with your family.
  • Give up control and let them lead. Change their perspective by being creative.
  • Establish a schedule or routine but do not engage with power struggle. Walk away until your kids are ready to move forward.
  • Use technology to your advantage to save your sanity.

Homeschooling Different Children

  • Children have varied learning styles. They can learn at different settings-- at home, at school or even while playing.
  • Do not put so much stress on yourself about trying to make sure that your kids learn everything they're supposed to learn and do everything they are supposed to do. They will learn just by being around you.
  • Come up with general school hours that would work for them.  If you're an early morning family, do early mornings. If you're if you're a night owl. Push it a little bit later.
  • Give the first hour and a half to one kid in the next hour and half to a different kid. Offer them a list to be done for the day and let them choose.
  • Allow them to choose their environment. Some kids need a desk and a quiet space, others learn better by moving.
  • You do not need to be the teacher always. You don't have to teach everything. There are lots of people who have great content online.

Challenges in Transitioning to Public School at Home Setting

  • Kids who thrive off a structured environment can easily be bored when they get interrupted.
  • Some kids may feel like they need to sit at home on their computers. Have them lay in a chair with a tablet versus the desk or them eat whenever they want.
  • Parents say that the syllabus content is way too much to accomplish in a day, others say it is just enough.
  • Teaching kids in different age groups with different learning styles is different from teaching kids in the same age group at school. 
  • Technological challenges like:
  1. Internet connection issues
  2. Having trouble with logging into online classes
  3. Having several kids at home but they only have one computer or laptop to share with.
  • Screen time versus online learning. Screen time is for leisure. It is the eyes looking at a screen. However, virtual learning is just like learning in the classroom. They do their lesson, generalize then take a break.

Takeaways

  • The secret is figuring out what is best for you. 
  • There are a lot of answers, but you just have to pick one and roll with it.
  • Enjoy your time, make memories every day, start a little family journal.
  • Parents should be patient, kind and courteous to our teachers. They are working around the clock to make sure that lessons run as easily and smoothly as possible.

Resources

Speakers:

  • Mindy Williams (Pro Mom & Realtor)
  • Brooke DeLuna MS, LPC (Professional Coumselor)
  • Amanda Hopper (Homeschool Mom)

Websites:

  • For counseling - https://brighterpossibilitiesfc.com/
  • Children books: Epic reading www.getepic.com
  • Scholastic (not usually free) - https://www.scholastic.com/home/
  • ABCmouse - https://www.ageoflearning.com/8a08850bc2=T1290355973.1585148191.6738
  • Khan Academy for math- www.khanacademy.org
  • Prodigy for math - play.prodigygame.com
  • Cool math games  - https://www.coolmathgames.com
  • Neok12 for math, reading, science, social studies - https://www.neok12.com/
  • Squiggle park for reading - www.squigglepark.com
  • Storyline for reading - https://www.storyline.net/
  • wordville for reading - https://wordville.com/readingcomp/
  • K12 reader for reading and writing - https://www.k12reader.com/grade-level/grades-k-12/
  • Mystery Doug for science - mysterydoug.com
  • National Geographic - kids.nationalgeographic.com
  • History for kids for social studies - www.historyforkids.net
  • Typing club for writing - www.typingclub.com
  • Mad libs for kids - https://www.squiglysplayhouse.com/writingcorner/storybuilder/
  • English worksheets land - https://www.englishworksheetsland.com/
  • E- learning for kids - https://en.e-learningforkids.org/
  • PBS learning media - https://klrn.pbslearningmedia.org
  • Highlights kids - https://www.highlightkids.com/activities
  • Fun brain - https://www.funbrain.com
  • Smithsonian online exhibits - https://www.si.edu/exhibitions/online
  • Smithsonian education - http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/students/index.html
  • Audible is doing free kids books - https://www.audible.com/
  • The Academy of active Learning Arts and Sciences - http://aalasinternational.org/rtol/
  • Achieve3000  -  https://achieve3000.com/community-resources/remote-learning-2020/
  • Adobe - https://helpx.adobe.com/enterprise/kb/covid-19-education-labs.html
  • Amazon - https://edhesive.com/amazon/free_access
  • American Museum of Natural History - https://www.amnh.org/explore
  • Babbel - https://welcome.babbel.com/en/student-discount/ offering 3 free months of language
  • High school SAT prep
  • Google Earth
  • Lunch doodles with Mo Willems - https://www.kennedy-center.org/education/mo-willems?fbclid=IwAR2I2cft3pn3zaEPUhD1PtoNYeLKTiDoHya8zsIhgFSlexurriGLDNIJSlg