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Homebuilders struggle to pay tax bills

Posted December 30, 2008
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Homebuilders struggling with a slow housing market have turned to Wake County for help with their annual property tax bills.

The developers still hold title to scores of homes and lots they had planned to sell this year, making them liable for property tax bills that are due next week.

Through November, 12,964 homes sold in Wake County, down from the 21,271 that sold in 2007, according to county figures. In November alone, home sales dropped by two-thirds, to 549 from 1,675 a year ago, county figures show.

"This year, we're off about 20 to 30 percent (on sales)," said Brad Greene, owner of HomeQuest Builders in Raleigh.

In a good year, Greene said, his company builds and sells nearly 30 homes. Because those numbers were down this year, he's stuck with a bigger-than-expected tax bill.

"This is coming at a bad time – it's tax time, and the (housing) market's down. Cash flow is a problem for everyone when the market is as slow as it is," he said.

Wake spreads out tax bills for struggling builders

The Wake County Revenue Department is cutting developers some slack on their bills.

"It seems like developers and contractors are having cash-flow issues," Revenue Director Marcus Kinrade said. "They're having a hard time selling their real estate, and as a consequence, they can't pay their staff, nor can they pay their property tax bills.

"I've been receiving calls every day from developers and contractors."

Kinrade said his department has set up payment plans for about 25 developers to spread their tax payments over several months. The department has set up similar plans with about 400 other taxpayers who cannot pay their bills in one lump sum next week.

"If anyone knows they can't pay their bill in full, I would ask them to call now so we can work with them," he said.

Suzanne Harris, the vice president for government affairs of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County, said the compromise could help developers stay afloat until the housing market rebounds.

"There's a lot of hope out there that we've had the worst of it," Harris said. "People will still feel some pain for a while, but the hope is that they'll start feeling the upswing soon."

Greene agrees, saying he thinks the market has bottomed out.

"The positive thing is there are people out there looking for homes. Interest rates are low. Prices are great. This is a great time to buy a home," he said.


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  • nufsaid Dec 31, 2008

    Maybe it is time to reduce property taxes for everyone. Especially after the recent re-evaluation that was done before property values declined. The property taxes in Wake County are causing problems for many. We should freeze rates and evaluations for those who own property now. Then when growth requires more money (for schools and other infrastructure) then the growth can be funded by those that want and benefit from the growth.

  • Justin T. Dec 31, 2008

    The Home Builders Association is the biggest lobbyist in NC politics. I'm sure if they feel even the slightest discomfort, our politictians will pass it on to us in the form of an amputation.

    Just wait and see... if it were an average taxpayer, they'd be on their way to foreclosure, but since it's their home builder buddies... they'll find some way to bail them out and raise our taxes.

    These good old boys run North Carolina. If you only knew.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 31, 2008

    Poor Home Builders. They are being protected by the politicians that they have bought and paid for.

    I bet the county wouldn't give a taxpayer the same option if they couldn't pay their property taxes.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Dec 31, 2008

    Simply stop building.

  • whatusay Dec 31, 2008

    Why are they still building houses if no one wants to buy them? Many people are losing homes through bankruptcy and foreclosure. The market is flooded with homes and these bozo's are still building. They need to go out of business.

  • superman Dec 31, 2008

    The economy and the housing market will be a long time in rebounding. People would be crazy to buy a house now. With workers losing their jobs or being laid off-- or their time cut. If they have money-- they better be putting it away to save in case they get sent home from work next week.

  • NCwxguy Dec 31, 2008

    I hope Fred Smith Co is feeling the pain. What a bunch of crooks!

  • ncguy Dec 31, 2008

    I wouldn't mind helping the small Biz owner based in NC. My problem is with helping the big boys who are in every state!

    I woud love to see Pulte,Toll Brothers and the like all tank!

  • wood1 Dec 31, 2008

    Aren't we all having some cash flow issues now? Greed got them in this mess, so they should have to deal with a situation they created. I have no sympathy, they all drive new vehicles and live in huge homes, so deal with it!!

  • doubletap357 Dec 31, 2008

    The glut of empty houses on the market is one reason why my property has now lost any equity it might have had. I'm supposed to feel sorry for people whose greed has made my home virtually worthless.