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Insider Tips Help You Avoid Home Insurance Claims

by Home Action News

Insider Tips Help You Avoid Home Insurance Claims

Trim trees away from the house and remove dead branches.

Overgrown trees can be a hazard in high winds. Branches that reach close to your home, or worse yet, touch it, are pathways for squirrels and other small animals looking for new places to live.

Repair steps and handrails.

Broken stairs and banisters can be a danger to you and visitors to your home. If they trip and fall, you’re exposed to an insurance claim.

Buy yourself a reliable backup power source.

When the power goes out, you’ll be dry and comfortable if you have a reliable backup power source like a portable generator. Follow installation and maintenance steps to ensure safety.

If you don’t already know how to shut the water off in an emergency, find out.

If your neighbor’s home is similar, ask if they can show you where to find the water shut-off valve.

Or, try these suggestions from Roto-Rooter on finding the shut-off valve.

Once you know how to shut off the water in an emergency, make sure everyone else does, too. Share this information with your children, the baby sitter and pet sitter.

Check the water pipes for leaks.

Look closely for cracks and leaks, have the pipes repaired immediately. Check the hoses going to the washing machine. If your washing machine hoses are rubber, replace them with steel hoses. Look for leaks in the hoses going to the back of the toilets, as well.

Remove combustible items that have migrated close to any gas-fired appliances.

Family members may have gotten into the bad habit of storing things close to a gas HVAC system, or a gas dryer. Move those items elsewhere to reduce your fire risk.

Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly and check the charge on your fire extinguishers.

The winter holidays are the prime time for house fires. Update your detectors with Consumer Reports Magazine’s top-rated smoke detector, the Kidde Model Pi9010 Dual Sensor and the top-rated carbon monoxide detector, the First Alert CO615 Dual Power Carbon Monoxide Plug-In Alarm.

How To Fight For A Lower Property Tax Assessment

by Home Action News

How To Fight For A Lower Property Tax Assessment


These days, it's not unusual for property taxes to rise steeply. In many areas, real estate prices are rising at the same time that local governments are seeking more money for schools, law enforcement, fire protection and other needs.

While some increase in your property tax assessment might be expected, it’s worth a closer look to see if your tax bill has increased fairly.

To determine the value of a property, assessors generally look at:

  • The size of your home.
  • Your home's condition.
  • Your lot size.
  • Renovations and improvements you've made.
  • Recent sale prices in the neighborhood.

If you disagree with the value of your property, here are a few items to check:

Simple errors: It's possible the assessor made errors in the physical description of your property. He might list a property as being 2,900 square feet when it is actually 1,900. Records may say your home has four bathrooms when it only has three. Transposition of numbers is another common mistake when recording data.

Improvements: The bill may include assessments for improvements that were never made or are not completed. If you're adding a room to your house but it's not yet habitable, your property bill should take that into account.

Comparable properties: How does your assessment compare to recent sales prices of similar homes? Contact me for a list of recent sales to find out.

Unusual conditions: Some properties have features that lower their value, such as a cracked foundation or proximity to a noisy interstate highway.


Don't assume that any errors you might find are new. The former owner may have been overpaying as well. Just because your rates are unchanged from previous years doesn't mean they're right.


How To Appeal

Different jurisdictions have different systems for tax assessments and appeals. If you think you have a legitimate claim, act quickly. Many municipalities only let you challenge your assessment for a specific period of time.

You can generally pursue tax relief in one of two ways:

1. The most common remedy is to ask for a negotiation with your local tax authority. Be sure you have documentation for your claims, such as photographs, a list of comparable sales and property records that show discrepancies.

2. Some jurisdictions hear property tax appeals or protests based on a comparative analysis. A successful appeal can lower your current and future tax bill. You may also be able to appeal past property tax bills and get refunds.

As a last resort, if you have substantial proof of an incorrect property valuation but are unable to succeed through negotiation or appeal and there is a large amount of money at stake, you may want to take your case to court.

Pay While You Appeal

You might have a good case and an excellent chance of successfully lowering your tax bill. But unless otherwise advised in writing by the taxing authority, be sure to pay your assessed taxes on time.

Save up to $10,000 when you use PenFed to buy or sell

by Frank Taglienti

Displaying blog entries 1-3 of 3

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Frank Taglienti
Berkshire Hathaway PenFed REALTORS®
565 Benfield Road, Suite 100
Severna Park MD 21146

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