I need some help. I need as many as possible to write the Attorney General of Texas (Ken Paxton) and complain about the surging telemarketing abuses. Below is the address to file a consumer complaint. It ain't hard. Just click on it and do what it says.
I'm usually a little more mouthy than recently demonstrated. I've been having fun. I've been finding sites suitable for development for some of my customers. It's a hoot.
Anyhow, I probably have some thoughts to share with you, but it will have to wait a little longer. I'm leaving tomorrow morning for a trip to Kansas. We have a niece's wedding to attend. These little gatherings are always an opportunity for a a family hoot-n-nanny. We'll hang out in Wichita for a couple of days, then out to Dodge City to visit with some old friends. I love the wide open spaces. That's where my wife and I met and married. It looks like Saturday night in Dodge City again. We call that a sociological study. We might spend a little time in the gaming parlor. (http://www.boothillcasino.com/) Steaks at the Dodge House are in order.
If all goes well, we'll head back on Monday, if the traffic isn't too bad. Otherwise, we'll be back on Tuesday. Maybe there will be some exploits to report.
Y'all have a safe, but enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend. Be sure and put the plug in the bottom of the boat. I'll probably want to talk to you when I get back.
I have been a general contractor. I have been a real estate development loan officer, an appraiser, a construction inspector, and a real estate agent. To some extent, I still do them all. I also write this blog.
Some days I get tired, but never discouraged. I still put in a pretty good work day. I continue on because I still have fun. I like what I do. Some people like gardening. Some people like fishing, and yet others like traveling. I like all that, too. But I still like doing real estate "stuff" more.
Even tho I like what I do, there are days when a deal didn't go down, or a general contractor messed up his construction draw, or a new audit project is unbelievably complicated. In those times, I am in clear need of a tonic. I need to re-visit how much fun I had over the years, and how I got here.
Below is a link. I have visited this link many, many times when I need a "pick me up" It has absolutely nothing to do with my chosen career fields. But, there's something about it that says, "Hey, it ain't so bad. Look how much fun you had getting here. Keep on doin' it."
I don't want to keep harping on this development. However, I learned some more information about Homestead.
I have a reader that is clearly more than a casual reader. She is "in the business." I consider her a reliable source of selected information she might offer. Her company has some relationship with the landscape/hardscape company that was presumed to be one of the sub contractors on the bid list for this landscape/hardscape/irrigation work. She states that they assumed that the request for bids would have been issued a year ago......or more. Apparently, there "hasn't been a peep." This would be typical of the bizarre scheduling that seems to dog this project.
This project is important to Rowlett for a number of reasons. It was highly touted as Rowlett's first Form Base Code subdivision. Upon completion, bugles were to be heard from on high. Clouds would part. A chorus of angels would be heard singing the praise of Homestead at Liberty Grove. Officials of Rowlett had glorified in the benefits that would befall Rowlett upon it's completion, and houses built, and families moving in. There was just no doubt that lotteries would be held to determine the lucky winners that could purchase homes in the subdivision.
Well, maybe it won't be quite so dramatic. I now wonder if the builders are still going to buy any lots. If the builders don't buy, it's a safe bet that the proposed buyers can't buy something that's not there.
What's the Plan B, if Plan A fails? What happens if people don't like lots with no streets? What happens if the assisted living project one block away fails? I've seen real estate developments fail before. It ain't pretty. It most certainly casts dispersion on the community. What happens if we have two or three developments fail? That is hardly conducive to attracting more and better developers. We can't go incognito and call ourselves Balch Springs. That name is already taken.
In about a month, this subdivision will enter it's third year of development. If the landscaping bids are not out yet, they will definitely enter the third year of development. Folks, that is awful.......and there is no physical evidence that any lots are sold. This might get a little ugly. However, don't fret. Our talented development team is on hand to.......wait a minute......where are they? I saw a picture once. One or two of them even read a couple of books about zoning and development. Its rumored that one or two even had real estate licenses.
I'm trying to inject a little levity into the very serious situation, but three or four failed projects will absolutely taint Rowlett. That won't be nice. Top shelf developers will avoid us like the plague. We will get second and third tier developers working "on the cheap."
The city has go to grow a pair and lean a little bit on developers to supply estimated completion dates on a regular schedule. If completion dates (plateaus of achievement) are missed, reasons should be given. Lenders must be made aware that if the development fails to complete construction or development, the city will take over maintenance and liens will be placed on the property. The lender will eventually have to pay the city for mowed weeds, plugged sewer lines. capped manhole covers, and any other efforts the city has taken to secure the site and prevent further deterioration. Furthermore, before any further permits will be issued, all lines will have to have cameras run thru the lines to verify no obstructions. The banks are supposed to have personnel available to "kick ass" if necessary. (If they don't, they're stupid). Do we have anyone on Council or Staff that knows how to do all this?
I spent a little time driving around town, today. I do this occasionally for relaxation, and I also check on our "growing tax base." It's like a bus man's holiday. That's what I do for a living.
I just don't understand what's going on at Homestead at Liberty Grove. Every time I ask anyone from "officialdom" why it's going so slow, I get answers like, "Boy, you just wait and see." I've been "waiting and seeing" for a year past the time the subdivision development should be done. Folks, this is what I do for a living. I check development and construction projects for the banks that's lending all the money to complete them. Any banks I currently work for would be absolutely livid with such poor production performance by Homestead.
Now, about two real good five iron shots south of Homestead, is the new assisted living project currently underway (or was). Most of the slabs and flatwork are poured.........then nothing. The PVC plumbing pipe coming thru the slabs look like a plastic tree farm just getting a good start........then all stopped.
The weeds on both projects are beginning to give them the "abandoned" look.
Some photos of Homestead. .
They are cutting across recently paved street to accommodate some drainage issue presumably to a small lake to the right. Where was the engineer when this work was designed? It's usually better to complete the engineering before pouring the streets.
Really poor grading. Not final at all. This grading creates a double retainage wall, or a whole lot of additional grading to achieve the angle of repose. It's just sloppy. I presume they are going to let the builder do that, but the builder won't be happy about it. Maybe that's why they haven't shown up, yet.
Again, pretty sloppy grading. This corner is just before needing weeds cut......say two weeks. Again, subdivision not very inviting to builders when unkept.
I guess they are going to get a subdivision monument sign. I would like to see the design. Right now it looks like it's going to be a metal sign with flashing lights. Maybe it will be the modern "ribbon sign" whereby a continuous message is advertised for extra income. Maybe they could play some Country Western music and put a plastic bubble guy outside. Who wants any of those old fashioned stone entries, anyway.
Homestead is a year past due. I have been told the builders are coming. There is now a new sign that Cambridge Homes and Weekley Homes are coming. There is no sign of builder activity. I truly have doubts the lots are sold. If so, the builders should be applying for their model home permits. In fact, they should have been underway three months ago. Maybe the city is the problem. I Don't know.
Some photos of the assisted living project.
Some equipment on site, but I haven't seen any serious activity for at least a couple of weeks.
Sure a lot of plastic PVC pipes sticking up from the slabs. Framing should have started some time ago. The construction entrance is pretty poor. Slight rain will "mud it up" pretty quick. Not enough crushed rock to establish stable entrance for material delivery and workman access. Will darn sure slow things down.
Plumbing pipes sure look lonely out there. They haven't had anyone around them for quite a while. PVC pipes get lonely, too. _______________________________
There's probably a couple of other projects I would like to check. I wouldn't mind reporting their progress to the city. However, all I think it would do is make the city mad. They seem to be offended if someone suggests their wisdom is less than Solomon. I don't know who's in charge of keeping City Council aware of the progress of the projects they approve, but whoever it is needs to come back from vacation. Altho, there might not be anyone charged with that responsibility, somebody should be watching our tax base development store. I suppose it might be the same person that didn't tell City Council the three restaurant deal wasn't working even with free land. I suspicion the deal couldn't be put together. I know I wouldn't have loaned money on the venture, yet. I guess we got the land back. Oh, well. It was only worth $75K......or, that's what the Staff Report said.
I wish to express my congratulations to all those who won seats, yesterday. It was a job well done. I would also like to express my sincere thanks to all those who ran for office. Even the ones who lost in their race gave the citizens a choice........and that was a service to our community. The time and efforts spent on campaigning and expressing your views was a contribution to Rowlett's well being.
Saturday was a day that the whole town won......and everyone that participated deserves the citizen's thanks.
Judging from the newspapers and general skuttlebutt around town, there seems to be growing concern about the new taxing district appraisals and the subsequent tax consequences. Any fears you may have about increasing tax bills might be real, but on the other hand, they might be unduly exaggerated. There are several things to consider.
Very young in my career, I used to be a pretty good real estate appraiser. During my senior year in college, I interned with a real estate appraisal company. The company did tax appraisals for different municipalities and counties. After school, I worked for them another five years. If it wasn't for them, I would have never met my wife. The appraisal company transfer me to Wichita, Kansas, and my wife was a nursing student there.
Anyhow, I became pretty good at a very young age. Good enough that the company sent me to the Statehouse, in Topeka to represent the company at the state level of tax appeals. I went to work every day at the Kansas Statehouse and set in front of three judges and defended appraisals made in Sedgwick County (Wichita). That was quite an experience. I could show off for my soon to be wife, and was probably the impetus for my remaining in the real estate business. I was fascinated with how real estate values worked and the facts that caused values to vacillate.
I'd like to share some of my knowledge with you. Perhaps it will help with your own personal tax analysis.
It is a very common double reaction when receiving a notice of a new real estate tax evaluation. First, you are delighted that the value of your house is more than you paid for it........but second, you are afraid your taxes will go up. In fact, the two reactions aren't necessarily automatically connected.
The state law is pretty clear. All property is to be appraised at their true market value. Then, the tax rate is determined by dividing those values by the cash needs of the taxing district. The tax rate is set, and the result is the cash the taxing district has to pay bills with. The rare exception is the "roll back" taxes that are sometimes deferred for agricultural land.
It's a little simplistic, but if your house value goes up by 10%, and everyone else's real estate values go up by 10%, and the taxing district's cash needs remain the same, in theory the tax rate will go down by 10% and everybody's tax bill remains the same, even tho their values went up.
But, alas, it hardly ever works out that way. The important thing is what your values did in relation to everybody else. If your values went up by 10% and everyone else's went up by 5%, its a fair bet your taxes are going up. An increasing appraisal, standing alone, doesn't mean very much. Other comparable homes in the area, and the cash needs of the taxing authority, has far more influence on your tax bill.
The above is important to know when appealing your tax appraisals. To file an appeal, then appear and make the statement, "My appraisal and my taxes are too high" won't get you very far. When making an appeal, you must know that the appeal board can go up on your value as well as go down. It doesn't happen often, but it can happen. Don't shoot yourself in the foot with unsavory remarks about the appeal board's haircuts or IQ. In some very rare instances, the appraisals are blatantly wrong. This is usually due to some math or procedural error of some kind. Those are usually found and corrected quickly when brought to the board's attention.
To only complain about your value is a weak position to take in appeals. You must have better weapons to successfully reduce the tax appraisal. The very best weapon to have is comparable information. That is information of comparable homes or real estate around you. It's how you place in comparison to others that is the effective tool in appeals. Also, avoid all conversations about whether you would sell your house for the appraised amount. If you say "No," the appeal is over. Most appraisal districts will consciously try to hold appraisals at slightly below market. They know the same thing I mentioned above. That is, if everyone is treated the same, it makes no difference. It's a slight deviation from the language of the law, but if uniformly implemented, it is fair, and saves a lot of money during the appeal process. Fewer people appeal. You can get comparable information about neighborhood values online at the appraisal district's website. This information will be the most convincing evidence to present to the appeals court. Otherwise, you must raise cane about spending habits of the taxing district.
If you can't get the appraisal of your property lowered, your only other avenue to tax relief is to complain about the spending of the taxing authorities.
Hope the above helps. Go camp out on the appraisal district's website and learn what your neighbor's houses are appraised for.