Cape Coral, Fla. — Homeowners are stuck paying hundreds of dollars more on their mortgage every month, but a local realtor said there are ways to avoid this before making the purchase.
Dozens of people shared on Facebook they received a notice that their property taxes increased this year. Debbi Baglio and Frank Amoruso got the same letter in the mail Saturday. They purchased their homes in 2017 and were comfortable with last year’s taxes. But this year the mortgage doubled for Amoruso and tripled for Baglio.
That’s because last year’s taxes were locked in according to what the previous homeowners paid.
Realtor Kari Wilbanks said there’s a way to avoid this before buying a new home.
“Something the buyer needs to ask is what they can expect and if they’re forgetting anything,” said Wilbanks.
She added buyers should ask things like is there a big difference between the current and previous owners’ exemptions and she recommends always reading the fine print.
“[It says] the property taxes are probably going to change once the other owner transfers,” she said.
Baglio said she’s still shocked by the jump in her mortgage payment.
“It still blind-sighted us like it did other people,” she said.
Frank Amoruso said it caught him off guard, too.
“I don’t have $2800 laying around,” said Amoruso.
That’s how much he has to pay by February 1st or nearly an extra $400 every month on his mortgage.
Baglio said she would’ve been more prepared if she would’ve known the taxes would jump sooner.
“And if we had’ve been aware, we either would’ve purchased a home that was less expensive or we would’ve gone ahead and started saving money a year and a half ago,” said Baglio.
And she advises buyers to ask as many questions as possible.
Wilbanks said if you don’t ask about property tax increases, chances are your realtor may not disclose that information.
“We’re not necessarily obligated to,” she said. “because it’s in the fine print,” she said.
She also recommends buyers ask their realtors if they have access to a site called property key, which shows the current and past value and property taxes of houses.
Baglio said she has to do what she can to keep her home for now.
“I will be looking for a part-time job. You know, something to help,” she said.
Wilbanks said she recommends her clients get an attorney to look over contracts before closing on the home. She said homebuyers can get one to look over their contracts for about $400.