Friday, March 12, 2010

High Property Taxes?

I read an article which had a summary of high property taxes on Forbes entitled "Where Americans Pay Most in Property Taxes" with a subtitle "A national look at the county-level costs levied by Uncle Sam." I thought the title and subtitle were both misleading. While I think the title is technically correct, it is misleading because it is based on taxes paid rather then the percentage of tax compared to the home value. So it is skewed towards counties where the value of the homes is high. So for example all the counties they highlighted in the "West" where in California (mostly in the Bay Area) where home values are very high, but then when I did a quick calculation I saw that the percentage based on the value of the home was relatively low (0.5% when as a rule of thumb it is usually around 1% in Seattle: approximately double). Do not get me wrong I think California pays a lot of tax: they have a high income tax and sales tax, but the point being the houses in those counties are worth a lot, thus they pay more property taxes.

As for the subtitle, I always thought Uncle Sam represented the federal government. Property taxes are levied by local governments; therefore, I do not think Uncle Sam has much to do with it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Refinance Program Extended

According to the Seattle Times, Obama’s administration has extended the Home Affordable Refinance Program to June 30, 2011. This program is targeted to allow borrowers who owe up to 25 percent more than their homes are worth to refinance to lower interest rates. Currently, about 220,000 have utilized from this program, according to the Treasury Department and the Obama administration was hoping it would at least help a few million borrowers.

Unfortunate News re Seattle Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences

In case you missed the news, the Seattle Four Seasons building, is facing claims by several contractors and subcontractor’s stating that they haven’t been paid in full. According to the Seattle Times, “They have recorded claims totaling more than $34 million against the downtown Seattle building. The largest lien, for $23.7 million, was filed in August by Lease Crutcher Lewis, the project's general contractor.” To read further information on this topic, please click on the link above.