The Week on Wall Street
Stock benchmarks declined for a second straight week as coronavirus news tempered risk appetite.
FACT OF THE WEEK
On this day in 1876, a sporting goods company opened its doors and changed the course of sports business forever. Albert & J. Walker Spalding started their Chicago-based sports store with the $800 gift from their mother. - A.G Spalding & Bros.
Before starting a sporting empire, Albert, having been recognized as the first player to use a baseball glove during his professional career, set him apart as he understood the equipment athletes needed. In 1885 the brothers became incorporated manufacturers and the first to produce the official baseball, tennis ball, basketball, golfball, and football.
The brothers soon became manufacturing partners for the National Leagues baseballs. The partnership continued over the next century, making it the longest business relationship in all sports history.
The S&P 500 fell 2.14% on the week. The Nasdaq Composite dipped 1.76%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 2.55%. Away from North America, developed markets slumped 2.24%, according to MSCI’s EAFE index.
The Fed Makes a Minor Move
The Federal Reserve left short-term interest rates alone at its January meeting, but it did make what Fed chairman Jerome Powell called a “small technical adjustment” given its continuing purchases of Treasuries. Wednesday, it slightly increased the interest rate paid to banks that park excess capital reserves at the Fed.
The move may give the Fed a bit more control over short-term rates this quarter and assist the operations of U.S. financial markets.
Encouraging New Consumer Data
Rising to 131.6 in January, the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index reached its highest level since August. Consumer spending increased 0.3% in December, according to a new Department of Commerce report.
Economy Expanded at a 2.1% Pace in Fourth Quarter
The Bureau of Economic Analysis released this estimate Thursday. That number matches the gross domestic product of the third quarter and affirms that the U.S. avoided a fall slowdown.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
HOW TO APPEAL YOUR PROPERTY TAXES
Between 30 percent and 60 percent of taxable property has an inflated assessment, which may lead to higher property tax bills. Moreover, typically fewer than 5 percent of taxpayers dispute their assessment.
For homeowners who think their local government may have assessed their property’s value too high, there are ways to appeal and potentially win a lower assessment, which may save hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually in future taxes.
The procedures and requirements for challenging the assessed value of your property will differ by state, but you should consider several general factors.
Determine Whether an Appeal Is Justified
Your opinion of the fairness and accuracy of your property assessment is not enough. You will need to gather facts to support your claim. One way to do that is to see how your home compares to similar homes in your neighborhood.
Check to see if there are any glaring errors (e.g., is the square footage incorrect?). If you have found an outright error, you may be able to bring it to the assessor’s attention and get it corrected.
Consider the Cost-Benefit Ratio
Appealing your assessment may cost you money, depending on the complexity of the process and whether you choose to use professional resources.
You are the ultimate judge of weighing the costs related to some uncertain financial reward, but know the cost-benefit before you start. For instance, you may not want to spend $1,000 to save $200 per year.
Use an Independent Appraiser
Your appeal will have less credence if a local real estate agent makes the market evaluation. A comparative appraisal will carry considerably more weight when performed by a credible, third-party expert.
Follow All the Rules
Appeals have precise deadlines and procedures. It would help if you met them; otherwise, you run the risk of losing out on the opportunity to have your appeal heard for another year. Call your local officials or visit the relevant website to familiarize yourself with the appeal process requirements.
As always, please contact my office with any questions or financial concerns you may have.