Sep 28 2010

Why I am so glad we didn’t buy a house last year


If you’ve been reading this here blog for awhile, you might remember last year when Shane and I were considering buying a house. The $8,000 tax credit was enticing. We looked at a few houses, looked at our budget, and then got real with ourselves: We couldn’t afford to buy.

We didn’t have much in the way of a down payment at the time. We still had a car loan. Though we thought we could afford the monthly mortgage payment, the high property taxes and maintenance costs would stretch our dollar too thin. Not worth it.

Plus, we want to move back to Indiana sometime in 2011. Having a house here would make that a bit hard.

So when I read an article in a local magazine about the property tax problem, I was even more thankful that we didn’t buy. Some things from the article:

  • “Between now and 2015, property tax collections in Mt. Lebanon are projected to rise 45 percent as the millage rate is boosted by over 40 percent and earned income tax collections are slated to rise 19 percent.”
  • Median houses in Mt. Lebanon are worth $190k. Property taxes could go from $4,590 to $6,437 per year. That goes from $382 per month to $536 in taxes.
  • Earned income tax is slated to go up. In my area, we pay 1.4% tax of our gross income to the municipality and school district. It stinks.
  • “Under the projected tax increases, the owner of a median value house could be facing well over $9,000 in local taxes each year by 2015.” OH MY GOSH!

Property taxes in this area are much higher than national averages. Plus, the county is going to reassess everyone’s property taxes in 2012 because the state ruled that the current assessment system was unconstitutional. Some houses are way undervalued in terms of their taxes, so they will most certainly see a rise in their own tax burden.

Houses in Mt. Lebanon have really cool styling. But they’re old. Almost 3/4 of them are older than 50 years and a third are more than 70 years old. Older houses are often more costly to maintain.

This area is really nice, in terms of parks, shopping, recreation, neighborhoods. But it is so not worth the money. With the threat of higher property taxes looming in the near future, it seems like it could really mean harder times for the municipality’s real estate market. People will have harder times selling houses if the taxes are so much higher than they are in neighboring communities (which are still pretty high, I might add).

And paying that much in property taxes could make people’s budgets spread too thin.

It really is a mess, and I am so thankful we are renting and aren’t tied to a house payment. Rents in this area will probably go up since landlords have to foot the bill, but at least you are able to move a lot easier than if you had a mortgage.

Sep 27 2010

Giveaway: $25 gift card to Marshall’s or TJ Maxx


The folks of Marshall’s and TJ  Maxx have once again sent me some gift cards to their stores. Yay! I used a $25 gift card at Marshall’s today.

I bought a pair of khaki dress pants for my husband. I can never find the kind he likes in his size at thrift stores. So, my next best option is to try and find them on sale at a department store or at a discount store. These are Perry Ellis brand and were $19.99. These pants were the only pair on the racks today in that size and style. Inventory seems to change quickly over there!

I also bought a wooden puzzle for my son for $5.

As a thank-you to my readers, I’d like to offer a $25 gift card to one lucky winner. As I mentioned, the card is good for shopping at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s.

To enter, I won’t make you jump through any hoops this time. Just enter your first name and e-mail address in contact form below (not as a comment on this post). I won’t use your e-mail for any purpose other than to contact the winner.

I will contact the winner and ask for your mailing address, and I’ll send you the card myself.

This giveaway will be open until 5 p.m. Eastern time Friday, October 1, 2010. Good luck!

Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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