You’ve been prequalified … what now?

I met with a first-time buyer over the weekend. She was prequalified by her lender. Prequalifying helped frame her choices. It’s a waste of time and energy to look at homes that are outside of the budget, so prequalification is the first step for any home buyer. Here are the steps that we’ll be taking on the road to home ownership.3D Realty Handshake

  1. Tour properties — We took a top level tour of some of the properties that are in her
    budget. This gives the client something concrete and real to think about so that she can decide whether this home ownership thing is for her or not. In addition to the units we saw, I can think of a number of places that would also fall within this client’s budget and still offer a very reasonable commute to Ft. Belvoir. But I wanted to get her impressions of these places before going on a bit deeper.
  2. Revisiting — We’ll revisit those communities that hold the greatest interest and look at everything available in those communities.  (So far we just did a top level search.)
    • A few more choices — If none of these really feel right, we’ll find a few more to consider and continue with the search.
  3. Make an offer — When we’ve found the property that stirs the soul, fits the budget and feels right, I’ll write up an offer. At that time I’ll collect “earnest money”.
    • The earnest money is evidence that the seller is serious about the purchase and is held in escrow until the sale is completed. We’ll submit a preapproval letter, a copy of the earnest money deposit and the signed offer for the seller to consider.
  4. Negotiations — Sometimes there is a difference between the asking price and the selling price. The selling price is determined by negotiation. We’ll pass drafts of the contract back and forth until the buyer and seller have agreed on all terms.
  5. Loan processing — Julie at Condominium Mortgage will then collect documentation from the client. This documentation will serve the purpose of proving the representations made in the loan application process. The buyer will produce pay stubs, bank statements etc. Julie will also order an appraisal as required by all lenders.
  6. Settlement — Settlement is the word used to describe the actual transfer of ownership. We’ll settle on the property in a timely fashion on an agreed upon date. Settlement will occur at a title company’s office and a settlement agent will ensure that funds are present as is marketable title.
  7. Ownership — Here’s where the fun begins … as does the responsibility of home ownership.

Properties in Fort Hunt

8826 Fircrest Pl

Beautiful split foyer on one of Waynewood's hidden jewel streets! This 5 bedroom, 3 full bath house is generous in size with lovely features throughout. Located on a corner lot, this house gets plenty of natural sunlight at all times of the day. Nice hardwoods on upper level, recessed lighting, 3 fireplaces (2 w/ stunning brick walls), bonus room on lower level and a garage ! Mature plantings and trees in front and back and a fully fenced backyard. Easily walkable to Waynewood Park, Fort Hunt Park, and the bike path. A special home through and through ! [Waynewood - $829,000]

8215 Collingwood Ct

Nestled on a wooded cul de sac, this handsomely renovated Colonial invites the beauty of outdoors inside, yet offers privacy. Find Transitional Style throughout the home, blending traditional and contemporary elements that meet the needs of everyday living and entertaining. The front door with custom sidelights welcomes you inside where walnut hardwood floors, elaborate moldings and trim, and plantation shutters add character to the main level. A two-story open foyer, complete with coat closet and powder room, connects the living room, elegant dining room and upstairs landing, then joins the open-concept kitchen and family room creating a thoughtful and functional floor plan perfect for entertaining. This home boasts over three thousand square feet of finished living space, including the walk-out basement. A sizable island with seating and storage is the centerpiece of the kitchen. Easy to open casement windows above the double basin sink provide a breath of fresh air. A double oven, six burner gas range, bar area with glass front cabinets, and a butler~s pantry allow you to entertain with style and ease. Tall windows fill the blended kitchen and family room space with light; a gas fireplace creates cozy ambiance. This inviting space opens to an expansive bluestone patio, landscaped wooded area and fully fenced backyard with storage shed - offering the perfect space for enjoying the outdoors. Access the two-car garage through a renovated transition room with an extra coat closet and storage. Four generously sized bedrooms and two updated full baths, including the master suite with two large closets are on the upper level. Unwind in the serenity of the master bath, where the luxurious soaking and bubbler tub with marble surround and MirrorVue (in-mirror) TV are welcoming luxuries after a long day. Marble flooring, a double vanity with granite countertops, heater fan, brushed nickel fixtures, and a sizable glass enclosed shower complete this oasis. The three additional bedrooms feature ample closet space, in addition to a hall linen closet. Easily access the pull-down attic with new insulation from the upper hallway. The finished walkout basement offers recreation space, a separate room for guests or an office, and a third renovated full bath. The current floor plan offers potential for an au pair-in-law suite. A utility room offers more storage and contains the laundry area, Craftsman shelving units, a woodworking bench, a second refrigerator, and a deep freezer; all items convey. This home has been meticulously maintained, with all major utilities and systems having regular service and updates. Major improvements include a renovated kitchen, HVAC with humidifier and UV light to filter pollutants, re-shingled roof with premium architectural HD shingles, high-efficiency Thompson Creek windows, new front and back doors, a whole-house generator, and the addition of French drains. Collingwood Court is a short distance from the Mount Vernon Farmers Market at Sherwood Hall Library, Collingwood Park, the Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River, Old Town, and an easy commute to Fort Belvoir, Crystal City, and DC. | VIDEO TOUR: youtu.be/XSWyDzd3yMc [Collingwood Springs - $998,000]

7911 Fort Hunt

Beautiful newly constructed home just completed! 6,800 Sq Ft+ home features 7 bedrooms and 8 full baths and 1 powder room. Elegant foyer with formal living and separate dining room that boast high ceilings, crown molding and abundant natural light. The kitchen is a chef's dream with generous center island with extra sink, gas cooking, ample counter space, mesmerizing back splash, custom cabinetry, double oven, stainless steel appliances, large refrigerator with water and ice dispenser that opens to a dazzling family room. A butler's pantry with extra storage and beverage refrigerator connect the kitchen to the dining room. In-law type bedroom suite on the main level is complete with its own en suite full bath. Second level has 5 bedrooms ALL with en suite baths. The spacious upstairs landing comes with at wet bar and room for homework-desk area. This home truly separates itself with hardwood throughout the top two levels. The Master Suite is pure luxury with matching his and hers closets and spa like master bath with a jetted soaking tub and separate shower and adjacent double vanities. Lower level is full of light, has large bedroom w/ en suite full bath and walk up stair to spacious flat yard. Enjoy the one of a kind bar to the side of additional family room and gaming area with large space perfect for an in home deluxe movie theater. Two car side loading garage. A Fort Hunt can't miss property. http://homes.btwimages.com/7911forthuntrd/?mls [Tauxemont - $1,499,999]

819 Eden Ct

Exceptional home, beautifully renovated in desirable Waynewood community! Gorgeous .31 acre yard on private cul-de-sac setting along GW bike path and river! Enjoy open flowing light-filled rooms with gleaming hardwood floors, gracious living room has gas fireplace, custom wainscoting plus contemporary chandelier highlight the dining room. French doors lead to inviting sunroom/breakfast room overlooking glorious yard and slate patio. Kitchen sparkles with granite counters, designer cabinetry and stainless appliances. Upper levels include 4 generous sized bedrooms, expanded renovated baths plus huge walk up attic for all your storage needs! Walkout lower level includes family room, half bath, laundry/utility plus one car garage and expanded (2 car) stamped concrete driveway. New architectural shingle roof 2019, furnace, water heater and windows replaced 2013. Coveted location near George Washington trail, scenic river and parks! Waynewood Elementary School and a WW pool membership is available! Huntington Metro and 11Y community bus service offer an easy commute. Convenient to Old Town Alexandria restaurants and shops, downtown DC, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir or Amazon's new headquarters! Don't miss this special home! Please view virtual tour at https://tours.linenandlens.com/1553116?idx=1 [Waynewood - $899,900]

8012 Bainbridge Rd

Over five thousand square feet of finished living space in this lovely brick front home located in sought after Hollin Hall Village. This home boasts cathedral ceilings, open living and dining room for entertaining. Hardwood floors, moulding and lovely finishes and new neutral gray carpet. A large eat-in kitchen with stainless appliances, granite countertops, wood cabinets and two pantries. A bright two story family room with stone fireplace and french doors lead to the fully fenced backyard. The unique plan is ideal for main floor living. Four bedrooms and laundry all on the main floor. The grand master bedroom with lots of light and tray ceiling, has a large walk-in closet and bath with soaking tub and shower. A second large bedroom with its own bath. Two more bedrooms and one bath on the main. Downstairs with it's nine foot ceilings, are two more spacious bedrooms, a huge recreation/game room with door and stairs to yard. Another downstairs room can be an exercise or storage room. Upstairs is an enormous second family/play room, office or movie room. An elevator lets you move to all floors with ease. A two car garage and a fenced back yard with a custom-built storage shed round out an amazing home. [Hollin Hall Village - $989,000]

7820 Accotink Pl

Beautiful single family home offering one level living 9 miles from DC, 8 miles to Crystal City and lies just off the GW Parkway for easy access to either. The half acre lot is wooded and lies in the Tauxemont Community which consists of 100 homes, most a on a half acre or larger. The community was established in 1940 and lies in a mature wooded stand of tall trees. Sidewalks and streetlights are banned which gives the community the feel of a rural village set in a forest which encourages the residents to do a lot of walking. There is a shopping center within a 10 minute walk and in the opposite direction, there is the GW Parkway bike trail which connects to bike trails throughout the DC area. One can even bike to Dulles airport from the front door. The community has its own water system which produces soft water and adds no chemicals to the water. It is fresh, chemical free water delivered to each house via the community water system. The annual payment of $500 includes the unmetered water and the fees to maintain the community.The current owner has completed many upgrades. The master bath is honey onyx, has a heated floor, glass shower with an integral steam shower and all Grohe plumbing. The ceiling has a patterned PVC which will never need painting, and dentil crown molding. The master bedroom has a sun-room with electric shades and a beautiful two panel custom quarry tile floor. Most of the hardwood floors have been recently refinished and much of the interior has been freshly painted. A Nest thermostat was recently installed. Many of the lights in the house are controlled by motion sensors. The living room has a large skylight and has a faux tin ceiling. The wood burning fireplace is original to the living room and is an ingenious design with integral air chambers which greatly enhance the heating efficiency. The kitchen has solid maple fronts, kitchen-aid gas cook-top and dish washer. The refrigerator is a Samsung 3 compartment refrigerator. The ceiling is a genuine tin ceiling from W. F. Norman Company which has been making them since 1898. Off the kitchen is a 16 x 24 deck with a hard top (metal) which is perfect for a quiet breakfast or entertaining friends or family. The deck rests on concrete piers and was designed to be able to support a two story addition should one be needed.The property has two single bay garages--one at the north end and one at the south end. Both have garage door openers. The south garage has the feature to enable the owner to park the car and walk into the house with no steps. This is a unique property. Termite bond till March 2021 [Tauxemont - $699,000]

1608 Lafayette Dr

Lovingly remodeled and expanded Hollin Hall one level home, seated on a flat fenced in lot, just steps from the neighborhood pool and park - Mt Vernon Park Association. This 3 bedroom/2 bath home features a remodeled kitchen, living room, family room with brick fireplace, spacious laundry area, and large attic for extra storage. Walking out to the back yard you will find an expansive ground level deck. The shed offers excess storage while allowing plenty of room for outdoor activities. The current owners have made several improvements since 2014 to include - remodeled bathroom with marble and ceramic tile, new kitchen stainless steel appliances, new water heater, refinished hardwood floors, new carpet in family room, new tile flooring in laundry/mudroom area, upgraded light fixtures throughout with new recessed lights in ceiling, Nest Smart Thermostat and CO detector, new Anderson front storm door and rear sliding door with built in blinds, new shutters, new door hardware, and vent covers. This is the best priced home in Waynewood ES district! [Hollin Hall Village - $574,900]

2016 Hoover Ln

Stunning 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath Colonial home in a quiet cul-de-sac in the much sought-after Fort Hunt/Stratford on the Potomac area! As you drive up, you'll notice the professional landscaping & enlarged driveway for two cars with carport. Upon entering this home, you'll first notice the beautiful hardwood floors & sunlight throughout. A private work from home office or reading room is to your left. An addition added in 2011 provides for an enlarged living room and a sunroom extension - an additional 300 square feet to the original design. The oversized living room has vaulted ceilings, skylights, & a gas fireplace, and is perfect for entertaining year-round. From the main living room, you can also escape to the new glass-enclosed sunroom to watch TV, listen to your favorite music, and/or relax in the hot tub after a long day. The sunroom also has a separate temperature system, open skylights, and beautiful custom tile. It's a true $100K addition and done exceptionally well. The first floor continues to have much to offer and boast an inviting kitchen with bar style sitting area, and a spacious dining room. Upstairs there are 4 spacious bedrooms and 2 full baths. The master bedroom has a sizable walk-in closet, as well as its own private full bath. The other three bedrooms all can be used for a growing household, extra guest rooms, and/or could easily be used as 2nd home office. The downstairs walkout basement is a warm and cozy family game room with new carpet and a bathroom with shower. It is perfect for a media room with pre-wiring for surround sound speakers. Just add your big screen TV & audio receiver! A large storage/laundry area includes a second refrigerator and a high-end energy efficient pedestal washer & dryer that are included. Lastly, you"ll notice the fenced-in backyard with privacy trees and patio. Great to end the day relaxing in the summer and enjoying the breeze and the trees! Recent upgrades include: refinished upstairs floors, new carpet downstairs, fresh paint throughout most of the home, and updated HVAC in 2019. You are just a short distance from both Fort Hunt Elementary School and Carl Sandburg Middle School, and just minutes to the GW Parkway, Old Town, Rt. 1, Mount Vernon and the Potomac River. [Stratford On the Potomac - $785,000]

8614 Cushman Pl

Stunning home in highly sought after Waynewood. Recently renovated, open concept home in the heart of Waynewood with over 3,000ft~ of finished living space. Hardwood floors, granite countertops, glass backsplash, SS french door refrigerator, SS five burner gas range, SS dishwasher, sun-room, wood burning fireplace, spacious yard with picket fence, color-matched shed, New England paver patio, finished basement, and large laundry room. Guest bedroom has attached bathroom. Large master suite with extra-large master bathroom and walk in closets. Split HVAC system for upper living areas. Entire home has LED bulbs and keyless entry with a smart thermostat. Only two blocks from the pool and playground. Less than four blocks from top rated elementary and middle schools. Family-friendly neighborhood on a quiet street. Holiday events in the neighborhood. Many commuting options (GW parkway, route 1, Huntington metro station, 11Y metro bus). [Waynewood - $925,000]

2306 Wittington Blvd

Charming turn key colonial nestled on spacious corner lot in highly sought after Fort Hunt. Meticulously maintained and renovated ready for you to move right in. Exquisite kitchen with high end Smart appliances, quartz countertops and finishes. Spacious open concept floor plan with large great room addition perfect for entertaining. Private fenced in backyard oasis with screened in porch and new composite deck. Refinished hardwood floors flow throughout the main and upstairs levels. Four ample sized bedrooms including large master bedroom. Fully finished basement. Spacious professionally finished two car garage and oversized driveway makes entertaining a breeze. Excellent location just minutes from the Potomac River, Fort Hunt Park, Mount Vernon and the GW Parkway! Minutes from neighborhood community pool* and Little Hunting Creek! *Pool membership not provided. [Stratford Landing - $799,900]

For more information or to set up an appointment call Stuart at (703)765-0300.

 

Why use a realtor?

Realtor pin
Realtor

All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS(r) are properly called REALTORS(r). They proudly display the REALTOR “(r)” logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. All agents and brokers at Condo Alexandria are Realtors. REALTORS(r) are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS(r) subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR(r) again.

Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR(r).

But if you’re still not convinced of the value of a REALTOR(r), here are a dozen more reasons to use a Realtor from Condo Alexandria.

For more information or to set up an appointment call Stuart at (703)765-0300.

The Young Professionals Survival Guide to Condo Ownership and Growing-Up

cashAlthough there are numerous benefits to owning a condo which include the lifestyle that such ownership entails; individuals living as single, young professionals who are just starting out, are arguably the most notable beneficiaries. The economic benefits that condo ownership provides for this particular demographic are two-fold. First, owning a condo is certainly less expensive than owning residential property insofar as the material upkeep and residual costs that homeownership necessitates. Second, most contemporary condo buildings offer a host of wide-ranging amenities that would command a considerable cost to an individual homeowner but which can be enjoyed instead at a significantly reduced rate to condo-owners who share jointly in the overall expense.

These otherwise high-priced features and amenities usually include guarded and/or private, enclosed parking; 24-hour security and front desk staff; indoor and outdoor swimming pools; clubhouses; gated recreational facilities; etc., etc. (the list goes on and on!!). To that extent, condo ownership is therefore an ideal middle ground for the single, young professional who may very well aspire towards homeownership someday but who still remains a far cry away from white picket fences, two-car garages and 2.5 children.

Nesbitt Realty can help you buy or sell in Cameron Station.
The condos of Cameron Station include Carlton Place, Condominiums of Cameron Station Blvd, Main Street, Oakland Hall, Residences at Cameron Station and Woodland Hall.

In addition to the economically sound benefits that condo ownership provides, there are other elemental and lifestyle benefits that are associated with condominium ownership as well. Today, there are as many types of condominiums out there as there are types of people. Plainly put, the condominium marketplace has progressed with such rapidity that the variety and availability of choice in condo options is as original and unique as individual homes. Thus, each type can satisfy the different needs of different individuals and therefore enhance and accommodate every kind of lifestyle. For example, there are distinctions between what are popularly thought of as ‘condominium apartments’ versus those that are known as ‘condominium townhouses’, which might have small differences from one another save for their structure regulations. There are also condominiums known as freeholds whereby a condo owner owns the plot of land as well as any structure on the land such as a house or townhouse.

Finally, for single or young professionals who are still growing into their grownup-ness, condo ownership signifies an increase in responsibility and a commitment to ownership. To be clear, condo living isn’t like renting a single dwelling home or apartment and this is due to the dual nature that comes with owning any condo unit. Condominium owners hold ownership over their respective units but, additionally, each owner is also responsible for the operating costs and maintenance of the all of the shared elements on the property such as lobbies, passageways, and elevators. Here, owning a condo is effectively choosing to live within a community of other condo unit owners and thus, your neighbors. Each condominium complex is a unique community and each owner accepts the rules and regulations that are equally unique to condo living.

Condos in Ballston 880 Condominium Unit 404 Pksp 260
Arlington

In a condominium complex, you also become part of a distinctive community where you as an individual become an integral part in the community as a whole; and this includes being an essential part of the decision making process. However, the advantages that come with shared communal facilities like the pool, clubhouse, and state-of-the-art gym are collectively a strong incentive to watch your neighbors’ back.

In summation, owning a condo can provide both economically sensible and personally enjoyable benefits to any owner looking to buy but especially for individuals who are single, working and fairly young professionals who are new to the game but ready for more. In addition, because of the multiplicity and vast assortment of condominium units and styles that are available, condo ownership includes something for everyone. Lastly, although buying a condo certainly signifies a new level of maturation and grownup responsibility; the advantages to living in a shared community and to be able to engage as an honest and responsible neighbor will hopefully serve you both by keeping your pocketbook and your sense of self a little more full.

Condominiums are found in all shapes, sizes, prices and types. Are you looking for a high-rise condo, a mid-rise or a garden-style condo? Maybe you'd prefer a townhouse?

The term "garden-style" condo usually refers to a condominium residence in a building that has less than three stories. Most garden-style condos have balconies or patios for each residence. Many garden-style condos have a main entrance that opens to a common-area hallway. Additional common areas include the green space and "gardens" surrounding the structures. If you're interested in garden-style condos you'll have a lot of options in Northern Virginia.

From the suburban feel of Kingstowne to the central location of Bolling Brook from the vintage charm of Belle View to the chic feel of Carlyle Square, are just some of the many Northern Virginia condominium communities we feature.


[read more]

Recent Listings

For more information or to set up an appointment call Stuart at (703)765-0300.

A Financial Plan for Your Home

You probably already have a financial plan for yourself in place. Most likely you sat down with an advisor at some point to set up a budget and diversify your investments. Or maybe you did it yourself online or at the dining room table. Either way, smart move.

But what about your home specifically, probably the biggest investment you’ll ever make in your life? Did you really take everything into account: repairs and upgrades, the mortgage, insurance, and taxes? Probably not.

Your house requires a financial plan of its own. Spend a weekend creating one. Once you have a handle on your home’s expenses you can devise a long-term strategy that’ll let you live there for years with maximum enjoyment and minimum anxiety. These are the four central elements you need to address.

The mortgage: Paying it—and then some

Yes, you already shell out a lot for your mortgage, but can you pay more? Even a little extra each month can add up. Let’s say you have $200,000 outstanding principal and a 20-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5%. Your monthly payment is $1,319.91. But if you can manage to pay another $100 a month, you’ll save $14,887 in interest. Run the numbers for yourself.

Alan D. Kahn, a financial planner in Syosset, N.Y., likes the idea of early payoff because lowering debt leaves you free to spend money elsewhere later on. There’s an emotional benefit as well. It can feel awfully good to own your house outright as soon as possible. And don’t fret too much about losing the mortgage interest deduction come tax time. Toward the tail end of the life of a loan most of your payment is going to the principal, not the interest.

Nevertheless, the same extra $100 might also go into a retirement plan every month, or be put aside for the inevitable home repairs (more on those later). Michael Kay, a financial planner in Livingston, N.J., says while a debt-free life may be enormously important to your peace of mind, an extra $1,200 toward your child’s college fund every year may feel even better. It’s about what’s ultimately important to you, both emotionally and financially.

Insurance: Protecting your property

You’ll want homeowners insurance with full replacement coverage in case your house is burned to the ground. This sounds simple, but be careful on the calculation. Remember that you own a house as well as the land on which it sits. So even though you bought your home for $300,000, it may cost only $100,000 to rebuild it. Your policy limits should reflect this.

The differences are regional. Where land is at a premium, like much of Southern California, a higher percentage of the purchase cost is for the property rather than the structure. Where land is cheap, like much of North Dakota, most of the value of a new house is the house itself. Don’t be deceived by shifts in market values. You may have bought a $1.2 million townhouse in Florida during the boom that now may only sell for $600,000. But the replacement cost of the townhouse hasn’t changed much, so you can’t cut insurance costs that way.

Do, however, try to cut costs by asking your insurance agent about discounts. Making structural improvements, such as adding storm shutters, can lead to lower rates. Membership is certain groups, such as AARP or veterans’ organizations, entitles some policyholders to breaks on premiums as well.

Repairs and renovations: By choice or necessity

Throughout the life of your house, you’ll be making two kinds of changes. The first is the fun kind, like a marble floor for the living room. The second is the essential, behind-the-scenes change: a new water heater. You don’t have a choice about when you’ll do the latter, but you can prepare for it financially.

It’s a good idea to have a rainy-day fund. Start with the inspection report you received when you bought the house. Did the inspector indicate that you would need a new roof in five years? A new furnace in 10? Get estimates on what these repairs will cost and start saving. Consider ongoing non-emergency maintenance too. Do you live in New England? Price a snow blower and get bids from plow services. Resist the temptation to take care of everything with home equity loans, which defeat efforts to pay off the mortgage early.

As for the discretionary upgrades, act prudently. Matthew P. Havens, a financial planner in Hingham, Mass., has seen too many people rationalizing lavish upgrades as an investment when they really were lifestyle decisions. According to Remodeling magazine, an upscale major kitchen upgrade, for example, could cost nearly $112,000, but only about 63% of that will be recouped in the home’s resale value. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t upgrade. If you can afford to redo your bathrooms, go ahead. Just don’t confuse your necessary repairs (new oil furnace—about $4,000) with your discretionary upgrades (Viking range—$6,000 and up).

Taxes: (Almost) no way around them

Taxes are an essential part of your home’s financial plan. The bank that holds your mortgage may already handle your real estate taxes with an escrow account. If so the expense is built into your monthly mortgage payment. Check your statements or call the lender. Otherwise create a dedicated fund for property taxes, which can run into the thousands of dollars annually.

You may be able to reduce your tax burden by getting a reassessment. Do your homework first. Are comparable houses taxed less than yours? Ask the local assessor what formula is used to set tax rates. Kay, the New Jersey financial planner, researched and then challenged the assessed value of his own home and got a 15% rollback.

If you’re in a special group, you might get some help from state or local programs. Check around to see what’s available in your area. New York State, for example, has its Star Program for giving senior citizens some relief from school-related property taxes.

Richard J. Koreto is a freelance writer. He has been editor of several professional financial magazines and is the author of “Run It Like a Business,” a practice management book for financial planners. He and his wife own a pre-Civil War house in Rockland County, N.Y.