My New Blog

May 6th, 2013 8:40 AM

I'm sending this post because I'm interested in hiring an assistant.  This person would have to work with me, so I hope that's not a deterrent!  The position is part time, basically 15 hours per week.  It can be three five-hour days or five three-hour days.  Skills needed would be knowledge of Microsoft Word, organizational skills, excellent phone skills, and to be a quick learner.  I need someone who can file reports, schedule appointments, type up contracts, manage the other appraisers' work loads, and keep me organized.  If you or someone you know is interested, please call me. 

My office number is 215-230-9493.


Posted by Maureen Fox on May 6th, 2013 8:40 AMPost a Comment (0)

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March 8th, 2012 8:37 AM

Every year the Women in Business of the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce hold a fundraiser called The Gourmet Getaway. This year the Gourmet Getaway is on Tuesday, March 20th from 5:30 to 8:00 at Spring Mill Manor in Ivyland. Tickets are $45. My husband and I went last year and really had fun. There are a bunch of vendors there from area restaurants, wineries, bakeries, and caterers. You get to sample food and drink from all these folks. Yum! It’s like I died and went to heaven. I would love it if you would go. I’m attaching a link for further info. If you want to get tickets, email/call me and I’ll get them for you. Get a bunch of your friends together for a fun night out, or have a great date night with your beloved! I will be there, isn’t that enough reason to go? The event is a blast and it is for a great cause. Proceeds go into the Women in Business Scholarship Fund (a non-profit). It assists women who have overcome substantial challenges and wish to re-enter the work force by educating themselves. Please join me. Here’s a list of the vendors for this year:

2012 VENDORS

Bobbie Simone's
Borghi's
Buckingham Valley Vineyards & Winery
Chaddsford Winery
Chambers 19
DISH Catering
Doug's Cakes
Heaven on a Plate
Laurie's Chocolates
New Hope Winery
OOKA
Sandcastle Winery
Soup to Nuts
Spring Mill Country Club & Manor
The Talking Teacup
Taste
The Temperence House
Town Crier Bakery
Villa Barolo
Vintage Grill
Wegman's

For more info:  http://centralbuckschamber.com/wib/gg/index.htm

Click on the following link to buy tickets (or call me!):

http://sites.mgfx.com/mws/generallibrary/registrationform/formfiles/CBCCRegistrationForm.cfm?eventid=47958&projectid=1


I really hope to see a lot of you there!!!

Posted by Maureen Fox on March 8th, 2012 8:37 AMPost a Comment (1)

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November 1st, 2011 9:51 AM
I read Alan Heaven's article in the Philadelphia Inquirer this Sunday.  He has a reader who wondered if he should get an appraisal before he lists his house for sale.  Alan doesn't think it is necessary.  I would agree with Alan if you live in a "cookie cutter" house, like a row home in the city, or a tract house in the suburbs.  I often get phone calls from people looking for an appraiser to assist them in determining a potential sale price.  While I like to make a living like the next guy, what I tell people is that a real estate agent, or two, or three, can help them.  Real estate agents understand that part of obtaining a listing includes helping people price their home.  Agents also understand that sellers will interview other agents, and that they may not get the listing.  I then give the caller the name of a few real estate agents in their area.  If on the other hand (and this is where I disagree with Alan Heavens), the caller has a unique property then I suggest that an appraisal will be their best bet.  The last thing a seller wants is to list their home with a too high asking price, which then causes the house to not sell and sit too long on the market.  Be wary of the agent who tells you to list your house for say, $500,000 with the intention of selling it for $400,000.  Human nature dictates that nobody wants to offer $100,000 under the asking price (unless you are in the million dollar plus price range).  It's not the norm.  I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it doesn't happen often.  So, Mr. Heavens, don't be so quick to tell people to dismiss getting an appraisal before listing their home for sale.  An appraiser does not have a vested interest in selling the house like a real estate agent does.  One will get a fair, unbiased estimate of market value that will assist in one's decisions.  Now that's priceless.

Posted by Maureen Fox on November 1st, 2011 9:51 AMPost a Comment (0)

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I've been appraising real estate for twenty years now.  I've seen people pay more for their house than it is worth.  It can happen for a myriad of reasons.  I recently was asked about this by Alan Heavens from the Philadelphia Inquirer.  I would like to share that article with you.  It was published on August 8th.  Please click on this link to read the article.

http://m.philly.com/phillycom/db_/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=YqGrswQo&full=true#display

Enjoy the few remaining weeks of summer!


Posted by Maureen Fox on August 10th, 2011 8:04 AMPost a Comment (0)

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March 31st, 2011 3:18 PM

Although there are currently reports of snow and frigid temperatures, spring is here.  I know it because the phone calls have begun from real estate agents and owners alike about pricing homes for the spring market.  The agents tell me they have a client that wants to sell, but that the homeowner isn't being realistic about what their home will sell for.  Owners tell me they want top dollar and they don't feel their agent is "listening" to them. 

An appraisal by a state certified real estate appraiser may be able to help all involved.  Homeowners and agents know that the spring market is the best time to sell:  buyers want to move in to their new home in the summer.  The worst mistake an agent or a homeowner can make is pricing the home too high.  Any seasoned agent will tell you that if a house sits too long, it becomes "stigmatized".  People begin to wonder, "Why didn't that house sell?  What's wrong with it?"  Pricing the house right is key in this market. 

If the house is unique, that bodes the "price" question too.  Sometimes a house may be over improved for the area, or may need work.  So many factors come into play with pricing the house right.

Hopefully, everyone who puts their house on the market this spring will sell it in less than a month.  I have seen it happen in the last few months.  The homes that sell quickly are typically "priced right".  So good luck to all the potential sellers and agents. 

Now go, enjoy the fabulous weather, uh, next week maybe.

 


Posted by Maureen Fox on March 31st, 2011 3:18 PMPost a Comment (0)

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December 15th, 2010 10:54 AM

I live in the Central Bucks School District and my kids go to public school, and I am very impressed with the school district.  I am impressed with the way they teach my kids everything from math, reading, and writing, to how to handle bullying.  I am impressed with their ability to be financially savvy.  From utilizing trailers during population booms so as not to have half empty school buildings when the school age population dwindles, to having certain neighborhoods walk to school instead of paying for busses, their drivers and extra fuel.  But now I am questioning their intent to appeal the board of assessment's decision which dismissed the district's appeal of 130 assessment appeal applications from this summer.  Central Bucks school district is now going to the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas to try again to garner more tax dollars from 18 of those 130 appeals.  Bucks County's Board of Assessment decided that the school district did not provide enough evidence that these properties were truly under assessed.  The school district spent countless hours going through public records and comparing sale prices from the last year or so with the properties' assessed values.  I spoke with the school district manager last year when I read in the paper that they were going to do this.  He indicated that they did not want to go to the expense of paying for appraisals.  So, after spending $6,950 in filing fees to appeal property owner's assessments, and losing the appeals, the district is taking 18 of these appeals to the next level.  According to the article in today's Intelligencer, the school district will spend another $2,500 to its solicitor to represent the district in the hearings and another $3,703.50 in filing fees.  On top of all that, the school district now has to hire appraisers. 

My experience in appraising real estate for tax appeals has indicated that a few things may happen now.  1. There may be a settlement before they even get to the next level.  2.  The school district wins and may be able to recoup its expense.  3. The school district loses and puts a bigger dent into its budget, or 4. Win or lose, the case will go on to the next level, the Commonwealth Court.  If the fourth scenario happens, I suspect the school district will lose in the end because it has been proven in court before that a government entity cannot "cherry pick" certain properties for reassessment when it can be proven that other comparable properties are under assessed and not chosen for a reverse appeal.  In other words, the school district needs to prove that all properties in the neighborhood, for example, are underassessed, not just one.  Case in point, why just 18 of the original 130 appeals?  According to attorney, John Fiorillo who successfully challenged the Downingtown School District on a similar case, the court agreed that the government cannot treat one different than others because it is a violation of the Equal Protection clause of the United States Constitution and the Uniformity clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution.  Those 18 property owners should ban together and fight this.  I believe they will win if they do. 

Bottom line, in my opinion, the ultimate goal is for a county-wide reassessment.  Bucks County has not had a reassessment in 38 years!  Henceforth, those in newer homes are paying the bulk of the taxes for the county, while those in older homes are not paying their fair share.  Remember, I don't make the rules, so don't kill the messenger.  The state clearly indicates that real estate taxes are based on market value.  I am hoping that Central Bucks School district's reverse appeals will push the county in the right direction to a county wide reassessment.  Nonetheless, the school district is spending tax payers' money on something I don't believe will save any money, but rather, be a waste of money. 

For further information on the Downingtown school district case or for any help with these 18 appeals, please email me or the attorney, John Fiorillo.  His phone number is 610-692-1371.  To be continuted....


Posted by Maureen Fox on December 15th, 2010 10:54 AMPost a Comment (1)

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November 30th, 2010 11:45 AM

I found the following article in the Nov. 24 edition of The Intelligencer and thought I would share it on my blog.

No appeal for reassessment rejection

By: CHRISTINA KRISTOFIC

The Intelligencer

CENTRAL BUCKS

But the school board president said the district will continue with future appeals.

The 130 homeowners whose property assessments Central Bucks School District appealed are off the hook.

But future homebuyers aren't.

School Board President Stephen Corr said Tuesday night that the school board does not intend to appeal the Bucks County Board of Assessment's rejection of its assessment appeals.

"We understand what the Board of Assessments said," Corr said. "We're going to go forward with our policy and meet the requirements for future appeals."

Board of Assessment member Russ Kavana, who presided over all 130 hearings, said earlier this month that he didn't think the school district presented enough evidence to support its appeals. So if the school board files future appeals, it will need more than the sale price as evidence; it will likely have to pay for appraisals of the properties.

Central Bucks lost about $4 million in property tax revenue last year when property owners across the district had their assessments lowered. The school board decided in March to try to recoup some of that money by appealing the assessments of recently sold properties it believed were underassessed.

School district staff spent uncounted hours reviewing the sale prices and assessments of all properties in the district that sold since July 1, 2009. They used the sale price to come up with a theoretical assessed value, which was calculated by dividing the state's "common level ratio" into the sale price. The common level ratio is a comparison between assessed and market values. In Bucks County in 2009, the common level ratio was 10.9.

The district appealed the assessments of properties if the theoretical assessed value was at least 15 percent greater than the county's assessed value, and the theoretical assessment would generate at least $500 more in additional revenue for the school district over a three-year period.

Central Bucks filed 130 appeals - 113 residential and 17 commercial - in eight municipalities. The district did not appeal the assessments of any properties in Chalfont.

The school district paid $6,950 in filing fees, according to district business manager Dave Matyas. He estimated that the district would pay its solicitor another $2,500 to represent the district in the assessment appeal hearings.

The Board of Assessment held two days of hearings near the end of October. During the hearings, school district solicitor Jeff Garton withdrew six of the appeals because the properties were being developed or had recently been developed and the assessment office was in the process of reassessing them.

The district stood to gain about $370,000 in revenue - less than 0.14 percent of its budget - if it won the appeals.

And property owners would have seen their taxes increase by a range of 17 percent to 300 percent.

The Bucks County Board of Assessment rejected all of the appeals earlier this month.

At the time, the "Targeted Taxpayers," as a group of the homeowners called themselves, were hesitant to celebrate, because they feared the district would appeal the board's decision.

Joshua Laff, a Doylestown attorney who represented more than 20 of the property owners, said Tuesday night he was glad to hear the district would not appeal.

"That's great for the benefit of all these individuals who have been sitting on pins and needles for these last few months. I'm sure they're going to be thrilled," he said.

"I realize that the school board is dealing with certain budgetary constraints, however, adopting a 'welcome stranger' litigation policy is not the answer. In these economic times, we should be welcoming new homeowners into our community with open arms, not a Notice of Appeal."

Laff said he thought the school district should lobby the state Legislature to change the assessment laws, "rather than wasting taxpayer funds and placing the Board of Assessment Appeals in the difficult position of having to rule on these particular appeals."

Christina Kristofic can be reached at 215-345-3079 or ckristofic@phillyBurbs.com. Follow Christina on Twitter at twitter.com/ckristofic

November 24, 2010 02:20 AM


 


Posted by Maureen Fox on November 30th, 2010 11:45 AMPost a Comment (0)

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March 8th, 2010 11:01 AM

I recently read the following article about Networking by Maria Martino Evans, President of the Women's Business Forum.  This article was in the Philadelphia Business Journal last week.  I hope you enjoy it and perhaps can use some of the advice. 

The Philadelphia Business Journal on February 26, 2010, named the Women's Business Forum the 10th largest networking group in the Philadelphia area. The same issue also featured this article with networking tips and success from WBF members.

9 Steps to Effective Networking
It’s not all about getting leads. It’s about getting what you need to get ahead.
By Maria Martino Evans
President
The Women’s Business ForumTM of Bucks County

To paraphrase the adage about advertising, most people know networking works; they’re just not sure which networking works best.
The answer is the one you target, prepare for and follow up on.
Networking is first about building relationships. Business comes from those relationships when you share your talents and your challenges with others, when you are as eager to learn about others and their needs as you are to solve your own.
At the Women’s Business ForumTM (WBF TM) -- in the past eight years -- we’ve seen the fruits of networking firsthand. For example:


Members volunteered their time and talents in writing, web design, graphic design, finance and public relations to help Cass Forkin launch Twilight Wish Foundation, a non-profit that makes wishes come true for deserving, impoverished seniors. Since then, more than 1,200 seniors have been helped. (www.twilightwish.org)
Another WBF member saw sales of her relaxation CDs triple in just six months after implementing ideas other members freely shared at a meeting (www.healthheartsoul.com). Today, Cheyenne values the people in the group not only as clients but as “a great resource for all my business and even some personal needs.”

Harmony Clean, a green cleaning service in Doylestown (www.harmonyclean.org), grew from 0 to 200 clients in just three years with the support and services of other WBF members it met through networking, including branding, public relations, accounting and business management – as well as free legal advice it learned about from a WBF meeting attendee.

With so many networking options, how can a business people decide which group provides the best return on their investments of time and money?
1. First, identify what you want out of the experience. Are you looking for a new job or new customers? Many people prefer learning or making contacts to potential customers for your product or service. Others seek opportunities to volunteer or to share or expand their base of experience and expertise.
2. Then, choose the group or groups that serve your goal and attend a meeting or two. See how it feels, what you learn, who you meet. Do the members support each other in ways you appreciate and ways that help you thrive in business?
3. When you find a fit, commit. Become a board member, says illustrator Pat Achilles of Doylestown (www.achillesportfolio.com). “I attended bi-monthly meetings of the Women's Business Forum for years, and often wondered if there was some hidden talent in the people who seemed to know everyone in the room, and everyone knew them.” She later joined the board. “As secretary I work alongside some of the most dynamic entrepreneurs on the board, and I very quickly developed a familiar relationship with them and their business. Now I am one of those members in the know, and it has brought me new clients and new referrals as well.”
4. Be authentic and sincerely seek what you can do for others, says Gina Rubel, past-president of WBF and CEO of Furia Rubel (www.furiarubel.com), a PR firm in Doylestown. Become a valued resource, and people will remember you and seek you out.
5. Differentiate yourself by being more specific then saying “I’m a graphic designer” or “I’m a lawyer” – say what type of work you do in 10 words or less, she adds. To get information or referrals, you must be able to clearly articulate what you do to others.
6. Ask for the person’s business card (“Ask if you can write notes on it,” Rubel says), but don’t offer yours unless asked.
7. Send a hand-written note to follow up. Achilles, the illustrator, “drew a series of funny note cards that I always send to follow up on new leads or thank clients for their business. These cards are specific to my creative talent and very recognizable as my style.” She adds that doing so “promotes name recognition and enhances your reputation for friendliness and courtesy.”
8. Stay in touch. Connect on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. When you see an article of interest, share it with them. If you learn that the person has had success, jot them a note.
9. “Be strategic,” says Rubel. “It’s about quality not quantity.”
Maria Martino Evans is a writer and PR professional in Bucks County. She is also an adjunct professor of marketing in the MBA program at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown. Reach her at 215-738-2544 or maria@martinoevans.com. The Women’s Business Forum’s mission is to educate, mentor and inspire women entrepreneurs to build and sustain viable businesses. For more resources, see www.womensbusinessforum.org.


Posted by Maureen Fox on March 8th, 2010 11:01 AMPost a Comment (0)

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February 26th, 2010 10:51 AM

 

When is this snow going to end?  Everywhere I look I see the white stuff.  I'm having a hard time seeing the beauty of it right now.  Snow always slows things up for me at work.  I can't verify information because the people to whom I need to speak aren't in work because they can't make it to work.  Forget scheduling appointments, especially in the city.  Small streets not plowed makes for difficult navigating.  And I love measuring a house when there's two feet of snow to trudge through.  I shouldn't complain I guess, the last time we had this much snow I was eight months pregnant with my second child.  Where is all this ranting and raving going you ask?  Nowhere.  I just needed to vent.  Isn't that the best part of blogging?  Fear not, I will soon blog about more real estate related topics, but for now, I just wanted to give everyone a window into this appraiser's world. :)

Happy Shoveling! 


Posted by Maureen Fox on February 26th, 2010 10:51 AMPost a Comment (0)

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Can it be true???  Is Congress going to extend the home buyer tax credit?  It appears so.  It passed the Senate (98-0) and the House (403-12), and it is now on its way to President Obama's desk for his signature.  Remember, this is a tax CREDIT of up to $8,000.  So when you file your tax return for 2009 and now for 2010, if you owe $8000 in taxes, then you will owe nothing.  Similarly, if you don't owe anything, then you will receive a check for $8,000. 

The new legislation will increase the qualifying income to $125,000 for single tax payers and $250,000 for joint taxpayers, which is up from the current $75,000 and $150,000 limit.  Now here is the best part.  The legislators have decided to include a new tax credit up to $6,500 for existing homeowners who purchase a new home.  In order to qualify as an existing homeowner, you must have resided in the home to be sold, or being sold, for five of the previous eight years.  The agreement of sale will need to be signed by April 30, 2010 and settled by June 30, 2010.

Homebuyer Tax Credit Changes - Your Guide to the Tax Credit

Happy Home Shopping!

 

 


Posted by Maureen Fox on November 5th, 2009 3:46 PMPost a Comment (0)

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