12 Arrowwood Court South Portland Maine

12 Arrowwood Court South Portland Maine
Under Contract!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

101 Things I Love about Portland Maine

243. Bakery on the Hill on upper Congress Street has huge chocolate chip cookies with gooey chips and pecans.  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Appeal Your Property Tax Bil

To successfully appeal your property tax bill, you first need to do a bit of sleuthing into your real estate assessment.

Owning a home is an expensive proposition. There’s maintenance, landscaping, utilities, renovations, and, of course, taxes. It’s your civic duty to pay the latter, but it’s also your right not to yield a penny more than your fair share.
It’s possible to trim your property tax bill by appealing the assessed value of your home. But making a case against your real estate assessment, the basis for your property tax bill, requires doing a bit of homework. Initial research can be done online or by phone over two or three days, but the process can stretch out for months if you’re forced to file a formal appeal.
Read your assessment letter
A real estate assessment is conducted periodically by the local government to assign a value to your home for taxation purposes. An assessment isn’t the same as a private appraisal, and the assessed value of your home isn’t necessarily how much you could sell it for today. Real estate assessment letters are mailed to homeowners annually, or perhaps every two to three years, depending where you live.

The letter will include some information about your property, such as lot size or a legal description, as well as the assessed value of your house and land. Additional details—number of bedrooms, for example, or date of construction—can often be found in the property listing on your local government’s website. Your property tax bill will usually be calculated by multiplying your home’s assessed value by the local tax rate, which can vary from town to town.

If you think your home’s assessment is higher than it should be, challenge it immediately. The clock starts ticking as soon as the letter goes out. You generally have less than 30 days to respond, though the time frame varies not just between states, but within each state. Procedures are often outlined on the back of the letter.
Gather evidence
Start by making sure the assessment letter doesn’t contain any mistakes. Is the number of bathrooms accurate? Number of fireplaces? How about the size of the lot? There’s a big difference between “0.3 acres” and “3.0 acres.” If any facts are wrong, then you may have a quick and easy challenge on your hands.

Next, research your home’s value. Ask a real estate agent to find three to five comparable properties—“comps” in real estate jargon—that have sold recently. Alternatively, check a website like Zillow.com to find approximate values of comparable properties. The key is identifying properties that are very similar to your own in terms of size, style, condition, and location. If you’re willing to shell out between $350 and $600, you can hire a private appraiser to do the heavy lifting.

Once you identify comps, check the assessments on those properties. Most local governments maintain public databases. If yours doesn’t, seek help from an agent or ask neighbors to share tax information. If the assessments on your comps are lower, you can argue yours is too high. Even if the assessments are similar, if you can show that the “comparable” properties aren’t truly comparable, you may have a case for relief based on equity. Maybe your neighbor added an addition while you were still struggling to clean up storm damage. In that case, the properties are no longer equitable.
Present your case
Once you’re armed with your research, call your local assessor’s office. Most assessors are willing to discuss your assessment informally by phone. If not, or if you aren’t satisfied with the explanation, request a formal review. Pay attention to deadlines and procedures. There’s probably a form to fill out and specific instructions for supporting evidence. A typical review, which usually doesn’t require you to appear in person, can take anywhere from one to three months. Expect to receive a decision in writing.

If the review is unsuccessful, you can usually appeal the decision to an independent board, with or without the help of a lawyer. You may have to pay a modest filing fee, perhaps $10 to $25. If you end up before an appeals board, your challenge could stretch as long as a year, especially in large jurisdictions that have a high number of appeals. But homeowners do triumph. According to Guy Griscom, Assistant Chief Appraiser of the Harris County (Texas) Central Appraisal District, of the 288,800 protests filed in his Houston-area district in 2008, about 58% received reduced assessments.

How much effort you decide to put into a challenge depends on the stakes. The annual U.S. median property tax paid in 2008 was $1,897, or 0.96% of the median home value of $197,600. Lowering that assessed value by 15% would net savings of about $285. In some parts of New York and Texas, for example, where tax rates can approach 3% of a home’s value, potential savings are greater. Ditto for communities with home prices well above the U.S. median.

There are a few things to keep in mind as you weigh an appeal. The board can only lower your real estate assessment, not the rate at which you’re taxed. There’s also a chance, albeit slight, that your assessment could be raised, thus increasing your property taxes. A reduction in your assessment right before you put your house on the market could hurt the sale price. An easier route to savings might lie in determining if you qualify for property tax exemptions based on age, disability, military service, or other factors.
This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but is not intended to be relied upon by readers as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Readers should consult a tax professional for such advice, and are reminded that tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

Barbara Eisner Bayer Barbara Eisner Bayer has written about finance for Motley Fool, Daily Plan-It, and Nurse Village, and is the former Managing Editor of Mortgageloan.com and Credit-land.com. She splits time between a beachfront condo and a mountain retreat.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/property-taxes/property-tax-appeal/#ixzz1z679HzQu

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Construction~Ready to move in...

       Build your own new home on lots
 in Falmouth, Windham or Wiscasset.

Monday, June 18, 2012

101 Things I Love about Portland Maine

242.  Happy Hour at The Corner Room on Exchange Street:
Spiced nuts, quiche, pizza, onion straws, salad and $3 house wine!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

101 Things I Love about Portland Maine

241.Thirsty Pig on Exchange: Cheap eats and brews including really tasty all-beef hot dogs!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

101 Things I Love about Portland Maine

240.SPREAD~~new restaurant and bar on Commercial Street~~Happy Hour: discounted drinks, bar plates, and lovely big bar and elegant atmosphere.  Try the Berry Mojito, spiced nuts, ham and cheese spread and other goodies.

Portland's Old Port

Featuring: Standard Baking, East End Cupcakes, Anniebelle's, Casco Bay Lines, and Nicola's and Gorgeous Gelato

Monday, June 11, 2012

101 Things I Love about Portland Maine

239.Bam Bam Bakery~~all gluten free items including: whoopie pies, cupcakes, cookies and pies in a tasteful coffee shop.  Zucchini walnut muffins--loaded with nuts and very moist!




Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cleaning Deck or Patio

The Easy, Fun Way to Spring Clean Your Deck or Patio

The spring cleaning chore with the most fun potential is prepping your deck or patio for spring. Here’s how to do it with a touch of fun.

Your patio and deck missed you all winter and are craving attention.
So pull on your wellies, and have a little fun in the sun with the water toy of your choice to get the job done:
Water toy #1: A pressure washer
If you don’t have a pressure washer in your tool shed, you’re missing out. Spring is a good time to add one to your arsenal of lean, green cleaning machines. They blast away dirt mostly without harsh chemicals, which is good for the planet and your deck and patio plants.
Plus, they’ve come down in price, and are easier to manage than they used to be, making pressure washing your deck and patio much more fun and much less hassle.
A 1,500 to 2,000 PSI machine, gas or electric ($90-$300), will take care of most outdoor spring cleaning chores — decks, patio furniture, umbrellas, flagstone.
Most models have a detergent chamber or two, so you can add a little earth-friendly soap if you need more cleaning macho.
You also can rent one for $40-$75 a day.
Tip: Don’t rent one heavier than you can handle. That will take all the fun out of it. It’s tempting to go for power, but your deck and patio shouldn’t need the heavy hitter unless you’ve become an expert at deferred maintenance.
Once you start playing with a power washer, you might find yourself looking for more to clean, like your siding.
Water toy #2: Standard garden hose
If you’re not the power washer sort (maybe you don’t like the noise), arm yourself with a hose. It’ll still be fun. Just pretend you’re a kid again and launch an attack on an unsuspecting family member or neighbor. Before you know it, everything will have a good soaking.
Now that you’ve got your water tool of choice, here are some tips to make the job go easier:
Patio umbrella: When you open your patio umbrella for the first time in spring, don’t be surprised to see spiders and moth cocoons. Blast them off with your garden hose. Scrub fabric with a gentle water-and-dish-detergent mixture to avoid stripping the umbrella’s water-resistant coating. When you place the umbrella back into its stand, don’t forget to tighten stand screws.
Outdoor furniture: Heloise, our favorite cleaning tipster, says a scrubbing solution of ¾ cup beach and 1 tablespoon of laundry detergent mixed into 1 gallon of warm water will brighten dingy resin lawn chairs. Vacuum wicker furniture with an upholstery attachment.
Patio pavers: Scrub with a bleach solution (1 part bleach, 10 parts water), which will get rid of stains. More stubborn stains may require treatment with muriatic acid, which is best left to professionals. To prevent future stains, lay outdoor mats on stain-prone areas, like under the grill or patio table.
Grills: The best time to clean baked on gunk is to scrub when the grill is still warm — not hot! — which is nature’s way of softening grease and crunchies. Use a wire brush with scraper to strip off charred food. Or, soak grates in soapy water for 30 minutes, then scour with steel wool. Don’t forget to clean drip pans and ash collectors, too. To keep grills clean, spray on cooking oil before lighting, which keeps food from sticking and makes cleanup faster.
Another tip: Cut an onion in half and rub it on a warm grill either before or after you grill to keep the grill clean.
Water features: Scrub scum from your birdbaths and fountains. Mix a 1:10 bleach:water solution to kill algae, but make sure you rinse thoroughly until the water stops foaming. Use a water wiggler to keep water moving and discourage breeding mosquitoes.
Have fun and be sure to get a little wet!
lisa-kaplan-gordon Lisa Kaplan Gordon Lisa Kaplan Gordon is a HouseLogic contributor and builder of luxury homes in McLean, Va. She’s been a Homes editor for Gannett News Service and has reviewed home improvement products for AOL.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/decks/pressure-washing-deck-patio/#ixzz1xQ3J9n3e

Scenes from The Old Port Festival

Fun, Food, Music, Street Performers, Crafts