How America rewards it's responsible home owners

Here is a quick tale of two homeowners...

There are two houses on the same street. Both were built in the same year and both were identical houses. The first house has been owned by Joe for five years. It was a decent house when Joe got it, but Joe has neglected his home, choosing to spend his money on lottery tickets and having a good time. Joe has several kids still at home, but he never makes them mow or do anything around the house. Each year, his home is assessed at an ever decreasing value, meaning that his property tax bill decreases, even though property taxes are primarily used to fund public education for kids like his.

The second house was owned by Joe's brother who was an even bigger loser than Joe and he was finally foreclosed out of his house after three years of effort by the bank. Even though the house was just like Joe's when he bought it, he took care of it even less than Joe did. When he lost his job at the mill, and the bank started to foreclose on his mortgage, Joe's brother trashed the house, since he didn't want "the man" to get anything of value back. After all, the bank had no right to foreclose on him... it wasn't his fault he lost his job.

Enter Steve. Steve bought Joe's brother's house at the foreclosure sale. He got the place for a pretty low price, but it was a total mess. Everything was ruined. It was as if wild animals had lived in the house.

Steve and his family spent months cleaning and repairing the house. In spite of the disgusting condition when they got started, the poured a LOT of sweat and money into the house to bring it back into decent shape. After a year, it was livable again. Steve was proud of what they had accomplished.

About that time, the real estate assessor came by and looked at the house. She was really impressed. She was so impressed that she valued Steve's house at twice the value as Joe's formerly identical house. Steve was happy until he got his property tax bill. Now, his tax is double what Joe's is, and Steve doesn't even have kids in school anymore.

So what is the moral of the story? Simple... buy a house, let it go to waste and you are rewarded with low property taxes. Or, buy a house, quit making payments and live in it rent-free for three years while foreclosure proceedings work their way through the courts, and you bear no scars except your bad credit rating remains bad.

But, buy a blighted house, spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on it, make it look good for the other neighbors and you are rewarded with higher taxes.

Keep in mind, that at the time of this example, both Joe and Steve had not sold their houses. The 'value' is purely imaginary. Does the city have the right to bill Steve double what they bill Joe just because his house is in better shape?

It all sounds fair, doesn't it?

Epilog: Steve decided to rent his nice, freshly refurbished home to a Section 8 family. Anyone want to guess how this chapter turns out?

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