Each year, it is a great idea for you to review your homeowner’s policies and your real estate appraised value to be sure that automatic increases aren’t busting your family’s budget without your being aware.

Each year, without specifically telling you, both your homeowner’s insurance and the local appraisal district will increase the value they believe your home is worth. Sometimes, the justification is inflation and more recently, it’s been value appreciation due to market conditions.

Appraisal districts of late have been especially confusing, with some values going up in spite of neighborhood performance, and some dropping to meet actual market conditions. Each year, you get a written “Notice of appraised value” which gives you specific guidelines on protesting that valuation and deadlines that must be met.

When you get that valuation, you should check it against what you believe your home is currently worth. If you are uncertain of what your home is worth, ask your Realtor for help. Some counties take online protests, others require that you mail in the form enclosed with your valuation notice.

In either case, having a current broker price opinion, provided by a Realtor, should be attached to your protest to give some evidence of correct value. If you recently bought your home or property, a copy of your settlement statement is the best proof of what your property is worth.

What is it worth to you?

The average property tax rate in Texas is just under 3% of assessed value. So, for every $10,000 in assessed value that your property rises or falls, it means $300 to you directly.

Insurance is even more hazardous to your financial health –

With both car and property insurance, they love to creep up premiums. All those Allstate and Nationwide ads that say they’re cheaper? Only in the first year, and then things start to climb.

There are two ways that they can run your premiums up without you noticing - first, by increasing the “replacement cost” value, the premiums increase while their actual exposure to risk is decreasing because of depreciation. Also, by creeping up the premiums charged without adjusting the value, they can increase their income a second time.

It’s all on you to keep an eagle eye on them - there are several sites on which you can cross-shop insurance rates, and don’t be at all shy to switch carriers once a year - frequently by cross-shopping and calling your agent to tell him of your intent to switch, they’ll suddenly find that some oversights were made and your premiums will drop back to what you started with.

More important than are New Year resolutions, taking an hour or two to check into these simple matters can save you a couple thousand dollars each year.

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