Beginner’s Guide to Property Tax in Pennsylvania

Buying a home may be the biggest investment many people will ever make. In the United States, achieving home ownership represents success and an improved quality of life for many people. Owning a home, or any property, however, comes with the added costs of a mortgage, insurance, maintenance and property taxes.

When calculating the total cost of home ownership, it’s important to account for the expense of property and other local taxes, and to know you are getting the best services for the amount you pay. Property taxes pay for public education, libraries, transportation, road construction and maintenance, emergency services, parks and recreational facilities. While low taxes are appealing, excellent services are also important for maintaining quality of life and preserving real estate values.

Property taxes in Pennsylvania, as in most states, are determined county by county, and include county, municipal, and school district taxes. In Pennsylvania, homeowners are assessed property taxes that range from 1 to 2 percent of the assessed value of their residence, with an average effective tax rate of 1.55%. Tax assessors determine the tax burden for each property by assessing the value of the land and any buildings on the property. Pennsylvania uses a system called the mill levy for calculating property taxes, which assesses $1 in taxes for each $1,000 of property value.

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Are Digitally Altered Real Estate Photos Always Ethical?

By now, most everyone knows how to “photoshop” a basic photo, using a wide variety of programs. In most cases, doing so is harmless and can even result in more stunning photos. In other cases, however, digitally manipulating photos can cause scandal and even ruin to some. A new trend is on the rise in real estate which can run from the harmless and helpful to the costly and potentially downright fraudulent.

Photos and videos have long been a basic staple in online real estate listings, including 360-degree tours. While ordinarily, these can be incredibly helpful to home buyers, many of these images are now being digitally manipulated. In one sense, digital manipulation can be no different than staging a home in the first place. A professional photographer might help make a somewhat less-than-spectacular pool appear to be a crown jewel in a backyard oasis. Photographing your house at the peak of spring when the trees are in full blossom is preferable to the dead of winter when the grass is brown and the trees look dead and lifeless, but isn’t inherently misleading.

A number of virtual staging services are on the rise, however, that could create a problem…

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REI Strategies for the Hands-Off Investor

Investing in real estate doesn’t have to be a dirty job. Here are three strategies to help hands-off investors make money from real estate.

Real Estate Notes

A real estate note is a type of promissory note such as a mortgage or deed of trust, which is secured by a real estate asset like a house. The borrower promises to repay the lender a certain portion of the debt at regularly scheduled intervals. While the original lender may be an individual note investor, usually the first lender is an institution such as a bank. Individual note investors also can purchase existing notes from banks, hedge funds, or other individual investors.

One way investors make money from real estate notes is to collect the debt payments with interest. Existing real estate notes are classified as performing or nonperforming. A performing note means the borrower is current on the note payments. With a nonperforming note, the borrower usually is at least 90 days behind in payments. A hands-off investor who is buying an existing note should purchase a performing note. Nonperforming notes are labor-intensive.

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Hottest Trends in Luxury Real Estate

For those who can afford some prime real estate, it appears to be a buyer’s market around the world.

New York City has been affected by the volatility of Wall Street, rising interest rates and political uncertainty, so buyers aren’t so easily seduced into plunking down big bucks for a luxury pad unless it features some incredible amenities.

Thus far in 2019, home sales are sluggish in Manhattan, and real estate experts believe it is due to an overpriced luxury market. According to NYC’s Donna Olshan, president of Olshan Realty, people are showing up at open houses but not taking the bait. She says that sellers are having to reduce prices by 10-percent to try and lure a potential buyer.

For those who are interested in the purchase of a luxury condominium or apartment, certain features are making the selling easier. Today’s home hunters are attracted to a property’s extras that deliver well-being and serenity. For example, there is an 88-story super-luxury tower in NYC that has splurged on the health and wellness factor. The special amenities comprise 44,000 square feet on the 50th and 51st floors and house spacious facilities that include a 75-foot pool, a yoga studio, a fitness center and a private spa.

Across the country in San Francisco, the numbers show a different story with the Bay Area maintaining its domination as one of the fastest growing locations for homes over $1 million. High-price buyers are fearless thanks to tech industry start-ups moving into the region and bringing with them a major boost to the economy…

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