My Blog

How to Save $$$ on Your Property Taxes

11/6/2020
They say nothing is certain except death and TAXES. Well, I can't help you avoid the grim reaper, but I can definitely give you some tips on your property taxes! There are three common ways to lower your property taxes in Oklahoma, and in Tulsa county, you can even file for one of them online (I will include links in my article): 

1. Homestead Exemption
2. Senior Freeze
3. Disabled Veteran Exemption
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1. Homestead Exemption:

If you own a home in Oklahoma, and you live in it, you should file for a Homestead Exemption. A Homestead Exemption is $1,000 of the assessed valuation of your primary residence. In 2019 this exemption saved the average Tulsa County resident who used it somewhere between $91 and $142 (according to the county assessor's office). You only have to file for this exemption once, and it carries over as long as you live there. If you aren't sure if you already have the exemption, you can contact the county assessor, or just ask me and I will be happy to look it up for you. You can apply online here or, if you like visiting government buildings or paying for postage, you can apply in person or by mail at the Assessor's Office:
John A. Wright, Tulsa County Assessor
Attn: Taxpayer Services
Tulsa County Administration Building rm 215
500 S. Denver
Tulsa, OK 74103

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2.Senior Freeze:
If you are 65, happy birthday, it's finally time to get those discounts at the movies and start all the traveling you've been planning, but while you are having all that retirement fun, don't forget to file this Freeze on your home's value. According to Zillow.com, the average home value increases between 3-5% annually and since the average age of admittance to a nursing home is 79 (footnote link) that gives most of us about 15 years of added value, which might be 75% of your current value, to save on your taxes.  That's way better than that senior discount on a $7 movie ticket! Unfortunately, you can't file for this one online, and there are some additional requirements, but you can find all of them here
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3. Disabled Veteran Exemption:
First, let me say, if you qualify for this exemption, thank you for your service. This exemption, available to 100% disabled veterans, their surviving spouse, or the unremarried spouse of a veteran killed in action, provides for the full, fair cash value (market value) of the property that you own and live in. This exemption does not need to be renewed for as long as the requirements are met, but you will have to file a new application if you move to a new home. This is probably my favorite exemption and I want every eligible veteran, and their spouses, to take advantage of the benefits that they deserve. This is the only one that I know of that requires you to apply in person at the Assessor's office, and you will need proper certification from the US Department of Veteran's Affairs. There are more details on the Assessor's website check it out.

It is important to remember that all of these exemptions take effect as of the January 1st that you file it and own the property. If filed after March 15th, the exemption will not take effect until the following January, so go ahead and make plans to file at the first of the year. The Homestead Exemption can be filed anytime (here) but, remember, it won't take effect until January 1st. I don't know about you, but I'm always looking to keep more of my money, so I will definitely be filing a Homestead Exemption on my new home!
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Call me anytime for more information, a no-cost value analysis of your home, or just to have coffee! 918-978-1889




Fall Back...Into Energy Savings

10/30/2020
Well, it's that time of year again...the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder, and we are changing our clocks back (mostly because no one will stop the DST madness!) So, this weekend as you change your clocks and adjust your thermostat; I have some tips from PSO to help you save as you cut your enery costs.
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I recently moved and my new home is larger, hence higher bills, so I went searching for savings!  PSO has great tips, like the ones above, on their website:

PSO Energy Saving Tips

Their website also has other options for helping track and manage your energy expenses.  This is great, because-full disclosure-I stink at keeping up with bills and reading all my mail. If you are anything like me, paperless billing is the way to go, along with autopay.  I also decided to enroll in their level payments program too, which will average my bill over the last 12 months to help predict my monthly bill and give me a good idea of what to budget for.  The monthly payments will still fluctuate slightly, but not by $40 from August to October! 

For all of you that are into renewable and sustainable energy, there is the "Wind Choice" program; this allows you to customize the amount of power that you use from wind, even up to 100%. I don't know about you, but I really enjoy researching and discovering new things, and this was really interesting to find.  However, nothing compares to the REBATE offers. Oh yes, there are many ways you can get $$$ back just for the upgrades and maintenance you are already doing as the seasons change. Small things like LED lightbulbs ($2 rebate ea), Advanced Power Strips ($14), Door Seals ($5), or Furnace Filters ($1), or larger rebates like upgrading insulation or new appliances can earn you hundreds in rebates.

Click here to check out PSO rebates!

I'm also looking at the PSO Power Hours program, where you can earn more than $100 rebate towards a programable Wi-Fi thermostat. Ask me next month if I signed up for Power Hours, I still have some questions since I mostly work from home and my son is home doing distance learning. I'm not convinced it would be practical for our lifestyle. Finally, I will be calling my HVAC guy and asking him what other rebates and certifications I can get to help save more money. I already plan to make sure that my furnace, filters, and duct system is cleaned and ready for the changing season, so it will be a good chance to ask him what else I can do. 
I rely on Stout Air and Heat for my inspections and upgrades; it's a multi-generational, family company and Alex Stout is great at explaining things (which I really appreciate). I recommend you give Stout a call too, make an appointment for seasonal cleaning and servicing, and ask about energy rebates and savings.

Alex Stout 918-927-1218

Remember to tell Alex and PSO that you heard about this from Jenni Plaster, and don't forget to turn back those clocks!
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Houses Don't Grow. (except when they do)

7/1/2019

           Families Grow, Houses Don’t.  It’s been my tag line for years. Recently I was joking with a colleague that I could come up with a real estate jingle based on my name like “Jenni Plaster sells homes faster” and she loved it because it’s so catchy and fun, and when my clients follow my advice I get homes sold in faster than average times.  But should I trade the original one in for something shiny and new?

              I guess I just love the image of a family growing in their home, loving it, and outgrowing it for something even better, while the process is just beginning for a whole new family in their beloved home.   People often ask me if I work with a lot of young families.  I adore working with young families, I pride myself on staying informed on our local public schools and community issues, but I think “family” is a bigger concept than most people give it credit for at first glance.

              One of the most beautiful things about family is that it can always be growing.  You can always add friends, neighbors, and people you love to your circle.  Family is such an inviting and warm term. Everyone wants to belong and have a place to come home to.  Sure, a family may be the silliness and chaos of parents raising kids, outgrowing spaces that seemed fine before the last baby. Still, some people who seem to have the largest families may be single people who have filled their family with beloved adoptees of other forms ranging from roommates to relatives to furbabies.

              It’s one of the highlights of my career in real estate to have the chance to meander through well-loved homes where families have created little under-stair retreats for their furbabies or beautiful, custom, outdoor play sets for their kids.  These things rarely add value to a home, but they added value for their family as it grew, and the creativity is sometimes remarkable.  So, even though my tag line says houses don’t grow, I guess in a way, houses do grow, as each consecutive owner puts their own touch and life into them, memories and improvements, even additional square footage. 

So, the real question becomes: do I want a branding change?  I like the catchy, rhyming sound of the new tag line, and I’ve shared it with several people who say it’s memorable and they like it too.  It’s definitely true that clients who have followed my advice have been blown away by how fast we have sold their homes, so it’s not false advertising! But even with all of that, I still really enjoy being the agent that reminds people that “Families grow, houses don’t” (even if they kind of do!)

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