house_well-11Last year’s real estate assessment was a big deal, even creating local headlines due to the way Fairfax County screwed up their calculations, as well as having over 20 comments to this effect on my blogpost. I ultimately took an 8% hit on my house.

But this year? Despite the prevailing market having a 12% loss in my area, I only took a 3% loss! Yay!!

2008 Assessment:
TOTAL: $376K
land: $184K (18516 sq ft)
building: $192K

2009 Assessment:
TOTAL: $364K
land: $166K [still worth $16K more than when I bought it]
building: $198K

Houses are supposed to depreciate, not gain in value… But mine gained in value from $192K to $198K, a 3% increase. Weird.
My land went from $184K to $166K, a 10% decrease.
But overall? Only a 3.12% decrease. Not too shabby compared to blue flyer they included with the assessment that said the average decline was 12.55%!

On paper, at least, this means I took less of a hit than everyone else, so I’m “winning”.

However… I wonder if I should challenge this. I challenged them last year and successfully got them to lower my value (less taxes). Should my house really have gone up? And the addition we built — that just confuses things even more, but it was supposed to have already been counted.

TAX CONCERNS:
RE: The Addition. A Kevin Moran of Fairfax County contacted me last summer and tried to get me to say how many bedrooms we had, and I refused, basically telling him that our building plans have been submitted to the county by Daniel M. Lopez of Virginia Design Builders, and that I lack the legal qualifications to determine what legally constitutes a bedroom for tax assessment purposes. I also told them I want them to get it right and don’t want to get hit with some back taxes due to them mis-classifying it, and I told them about the spiral staircase. He made the determination, in an email sent to me on 9/18/2008, that this would be counted as 2 bedrooms. He also said, and I quote, “Bedroom count has no impact on valuation by the appraisers. That is taken into consideration in the Sq. Footage. It s just a tracking item that is all.” He asked some other questions, and I responded back on the same day, giving him a JPG of the upstairs blueprint after the addition (the only JPG I had). I never heard from him since, so I hope this is okay.

EQUITY / NET WORTH:
The current balance on our mortage is $143,646.91, which means: $364K – $143K = $221K positive net equity on our house. Throw in our 401(k)s and savings account, and our net worth is somewhere around $250K-$275K. Though I expect that to go down as our 401(k)s continue to decline.

I also haver an $80K line of credit vs the house’s equity, will should still remain good, unless my house suddenly drops $100K in a year. That, plus my credit cards, add up to some $120K or so in credit limits, not counting Carolyn’s cars.

Basically, I’m pretty sure we can weather this coming economic crisis, unless things really tank badly next year. I’m already hearing that things may get better by 2010. It’s presented as bad news, but to me it’s good news. I waited out bad economic times after 911 (it added another year to my 2.5yr unemployment stint, basically), and I can do it again if I need to.

I’m not worried. I refuse to live in fear over macroeconomic fears. If the economy is so bad here… There are other places to go to make different kinds of livings, and we have the means to go there. But I still think this is the best place to remain for the time being.

Mood: ready for spaghett!
Music: Freezepop – Thought Balloon