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Section A: General News


Questioning home’s value




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Dave Ramsey
Financial Straight-Talk
March 21, 2012 | 1,132 views | Post a comment

Dear Dave,

We keep getting offers in the mail from a law firm that offers to protest the assessed value of our home for property tax purposes. They say that we’ll pay them nothing if they can’t save us money, but if they do the fee is 50 percent of the property tax savings. Do you think it’s ethical to dispute these findings, and are these services legitimate?

Kristen

Dear Kristen,

There’s no real problem with this, so long as there are no up-front fees. The real question, though, is whether your assessment is accurate.

First, there would have be some kind of basis for the protest -- like if your assessment is really out of line compared to similar homes in the neighborhood. Usually, they aren’t assessed at 100 percent. But if you discovered that a comparable home was assessed at 73 percent and yours was based on 82 percent, then you’d have both an ethical and legal right to protest the assessment.

I think one of two things will happen. If you talk to this firm, you’re either going to find out that there’s something going on with the tax base that makes them think they can actually reduce the numbers, or they’re going to try and hit you with a “processing fee” or some other kind of garbage.

If this is the case, you should just walk away.

Dear Dave,

The job I have currently is about to be phased out, and I’m looking at two other offers. The pay for both is the same. One is short-term, nine months to a year, and it has a per diem so I wouldn’t have to move. The other job would last much longer, but I’d have to move and that would throw me about $3,500 further into debt. This company acts like it doesn’t want to help with the moving expenses, but I think I’d like the job better. What do you think I should do?

Michael

Dear Michael,

I’d move. And I’d also try to negotiate the heck out of this company and get them to foot some of the bill for the move.

If you’re valuable enough, and they like you enough to want you on their team, then I’d use that as a negotiating point before accepting the position. Tell them that you really want the job and you’re excited about it, but the only thing holding you back is $3,500 in moving costs.

You never know until you ask. And at that point they may see the wisdom of kicking in some cash to make it easier for you to decide.

Dave Ramsey is a best-selling author of The Total Money Makeover and the nationally syndicated host of “The Dave Ramsey Show,” which airs locally on radio station 550 KTSA. View column archives at www.daveramsey.org. Questioners’ identities have not been verified by the Dave $ays column or this newspaper.
 

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