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Widow overcharged on property taxes for nearly 25 years, no restitution

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Homeowner recognizes mistake to no avail

In Racine, Wisconsin, an elderly widow discovered she has been overpaying her property tax bill for 24 years due to an error in the original property assessment. The original assessor inspected the property from the exterior in 1987 and assumed the pair of windows in the tiny one-story home was another bedroom with 500 square feet, but it is and always has been attic space.

With the extra 500 feet she has been billed for these last 24 years, the city theoretically owes her. In 2008 when her husband passed away, the homeowner visited the city looking for any way to bring down her tax bill given her new circumstances.

One of the city clerks noticed the extra bedroom and asked her if the assessment was correct, to which she of course said it was not.

The homeowner told Fox6 News, “We paid for 500 square feet of living space that we never had.”

An offer to repay

In response, the city has offered to repay the most recent year of her being overcharged, totaling $450 but says they will not reimburse any past overcharges or waive future charges to balance the books but state that discovery of errors is the sole responsibility of a homeowner and that disputes are handled on an annual basis only.

The 84 year old woman protests, “if I owed them, they’d want their money.”

She claims her husband managed the finances for their home and was not aware of the city’s mistake, but it is arguable that because this issue has been known by the city since at least 2008, they should reimburse or waive future taxes for at least that long if not for the duration of her owning the note.

Do you think the city should reimburse or do you believe a simple record correction is sufficient? Tell us in the comments below what you think.

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Greg Eckler

    July 20, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I think this is a two part article. 1) Who is responsible for the past and 2) what happens in the future.

    For #1 – we all have to be accountable to our actions or in-actions. In Denver if there was a mistake, we let the city know and going forward we pay the "correct" taxes. I own my house and own the responsibility around it. In this case, this woman and her husband were accountable to determine if there was a problem and resolve it. They have had 24 years to look at the tax bill and change it.

    For #2 – I'm surprised the city wouldn't fix the mistake and adjust the tax bill going forward. Maybe I misunderstood the article but it sounds like the city doesn't care about the mistake and will continue to charge the full amount.

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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