May 2, 2011

Saving money to lose it

This year Pete and I have been focusing on lowering our financial output. Which is a fancy pants way of saying we've busy been searching out ways to save our dollars. You always read advice in how to save that has you watching the nickles and dimes, but we decided to attack with the big guns and go after a few ginormous bills that where making our checkbooks weep.

Besides, I already brew my morning cup of coffee at home and forgo the fancy afternoon lattes.

First up was the home insurance on the Wee house. Do you have any idea how much coverage on a vacant property that is in the midst renovation costs? It is mind-blowingly expensive. When when we got the coverage it was hard to find someone who would even write the policy for us.

What? You don't want to insure this hot mess of a house that is sitting empty and gutted? I can't even imagine why...

A few months ago, Pete's parents found themselves with an empty house that they needed to insure. They got refered to a company that writes vacant property policies and the quote came in way less than what we were paying. Call us flabbergasted. We raced to the phone and inquired about a policy for ourselves. Turns out, we could get the same coverage we have now ( we have a few riders on our policy for injury because of the reno's ) through them for about $1,500 less than our current payment. Yeah...That is comma in our savings amount.

Needless to say, we switched insurance and are super happy to put that money into the garage and renovations instead.

Next up was our Wtown taxes. New Jersey has notoriously high property taxes. It is a fact of life for living in the Garden State and the price we all pay for being with a 30 minute drive to mall or Target at any location in the state. Way back in 2007, when the market was still *hot*, our entire town got reassessed on the home values and after that reassessment our property taxes doubled. Which was not so awesome.

Last year we failed to sell our house for something very close to the assessed value. (Also not awesome). Which led us to believe something along the lines of " Hey. The town is wrong. We can't sell our house for this much, so it can't be worth X amount." So this tax year, we filed for the lowering of our property assessment, which would lower our property taxes.

The whole petitioning process cost us $5 and about an hours worth of time in filling out forms. We asked for an insanely low amount, but it was also the price that we honestly think that our house could possibly sell for if we needed to unload it asap. So there was some justification in our minds for the price point we choose. The adjuster called us, and basically was like " um, how are you asking for this price? There is no way you're house could be worth this little when compared to the comps."

Ahhh we beg to differ...

None of those other comps have a train running next to their house. And despite all the appraisers, property assessors, real estate agents and mortgage lenders we've had out to the house- not one person can give us a nailed down price on how much the train hurts the value of our home.

We met with the lovely lady who came by to inspect the digs, there was home tour conducted of casa and property. She sat down with us and agreed with our appeal. Not quite for the rock bottom price we proposed, but that was a long shot anyway. We reached a happy middle number and signed off on the OK. The new taxable assessment is about 12.5k lower than the previous amount and brings our taxes down a sweet couple hundred a year.

Despite the fact that it means our house has lost value (uh-duh) I'm still filing this whole tax appeal process as #winning.

Did I mention that we got notice that our college rental property taxes are going up? Oh, I haven't? Well that is long story for another time, but in the shortest summary: Taxes are going up the exact amount we just saved between the insurance and appeal.


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