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December 2019

Whether you own a home or are looking to buy or sell one, here are some useful tips, ideas and advice. When you’re ready to make your move, give me a call or drop me a line.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan Real Estate
Stephanie Sherriff
Luxury Collection Specialist



How to Challenge Higher Property Taxes

According to the National Taxpayers Union, between 30% and 60% of taxable property in the United States is over-assessed, yet less than 5% of homeowners appeal their assessments.

Your2020 tax assessment will outline county, city and school taxes, as well as special assessments. Look online or call the assessor’s office for a list of factors used to evaluate properties and render assessments, including time frames. Compare them to your bill and make sure your square footage, lot size, number of bedrooms and baths are listed correctly.

If you can’t find the assessment rate on your statement, call the taxing authority and ask what the assessment rate is for your home’s location. There should also be directions for how to file an appeal, by mail, electronically and in person. You’ll be given a specific time and date for your appeal.

I can help by providing you with a comparable market analysis of similar homes sold or on the market in 2019, selecting three to five properties with the same age, size, and condition of your home, noting any differences between the homes, such as additions or other improvements.  Comparing the assessed values, we can see how close they are to the final sales prices.  If you must appear before a board of appeals, it is very helpful to have copies of a report with your findings for each board member and the assessor.


Is It Time To Buy a Vacation Home?


According to the 2019 U.S. Vacation Home Counties Report compiled by the National Association of REALTORS, the median price of vacation homes between 2013 and 2018 appreciated 36% compared to existing and new homes at 31%.

Like many vacation home buyers, you may be thinking of a great family getaway, but you can also use a second home as an additional way to build equity. You can lease it for income, and then use the property as your primary residence upon retirement.

Banks may charge higher rates and have different qualifying requirements for non-primary homes. Federal tax laws allow you to deduct interest for both a primary and second home up to $750,000 for married couples and $375,000 for singles, as well as local property tax amounts paid. However, you only have one homestead that qualifies for the owner/occupant tax rate from your local taxing authority.

If you rent the property fewer than 14 days, you don’t have to report rental income to the IRS. Otherwise, you should go to or ask your accountant to explain rental income rules so you can be better prepared at tax time.

Let's talk about your ideas!  Many people are taking advantage of lower interest rates and refinancing their primary home to produce cash for the second home purchase.  Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is global, so I can help you find an agent you can trust to guide you when you are shopping outside of Michigan and around the world.  The agent can send you listings to educate you on prices in the areas you find appealing, and answer your questions about the local market and conditions.

MY WISH For the new year

Create New Memories

As you welcome the holiday season to your home this year, cast aside memories of Christmases that didn't turn out the way you planned, relationships that no longer exist, and other negative aspects that control your emotions and expectations for the present time.  Don't over plan to the point at which you have no energy left to enjoy the fruits of your labors.  Take a deep breath, close your eyes and approach the holidays through the eyes of a child with no preconceptions other than to simply enjoy the high spirits, warmth and good cheer!  Greet the new year with a new attitude of gratitude!

MI Lic #: 6501149935
5839 Oakland Dr. Portage, MI 49024

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