Dallas Central Appraisal District staff saw Stephen White a lot last year. The founder and president of Sentry Real Estate Advisors spent hours in the musty DCAD building researching property appraisals. His goal was to help clients fight their perpetually increasing property tax bills. He expects to be even busier this year.

“With the new tax laws that are out there, it is important that people keep focused,” White said.

Homeowners were previously allowed to deduct property taxes from their federal income taxes. Under the terms of the new tax code, that amount is now capped at $10,000, increasing the financial burden for those with large property tax bills.

“A lot of the ramifications have not been realized because people haven’t felt the pain yet,” he added.

White, a Park Cities-based agent for Allie Beth Allman and Associates, founded Sentry last year on the premise that he could generate business by providing a service that nobody else would offer for free.



It’s Tax Day, and while you’re frantically double checking your forms to make sure you got every single deduction, don’t forget that there are a slew of tax benefits to being a homeowner. We scoured the IRS site and the web to compile this list of deductions many homeowners can claim. For a more exhaustive list, check out this “Taxopedia” from Kiplingers.

For a the top 10 deductions for homeowners, jump!


Friday I told you about Al and Erin Hill, that’s Al Three, who recently moved their family to Atlanta. They bought a $9 million dollar estate in swanky Buckhead (think Highland Park on Strait Lane), closed on it in July. Last spring, the couple had some legal problems involving a $200,000 HELOC — home equity — loan on their Highland Park home. A Dallas grand jury made some serious charges: three counts of making a false statement to obtain property or credit and one count of securing execution of a document by deception against the 40-year-old Hunt oil heir. Erin Hill, age 38, was charged with two counts of making a false statement and one of securing execution of a document by deception. The indictments centered on $200,000 (really, a drop in the bucket) from OmniAmerican Bank taken out in 2009 when they claimed to be sole owners of their $1.9 million Highland Park home: majority interest in the Highland Park home is owned by the Albert Hill Trust, the young couple only owns about 20%. There were some charges too about false statements and “securing execution of a document by deception.”  At the time, Al Three did not have legal representation.

Here’s what my sources tell me: Al Three recently fought to change the trustee of his trust, and he likely convinced the trustee to buy the $9 million Atlanta estate on his behalf. (Taxes on that spread are a mere $50,000 a year — what is Georgia doing right about real estate taxes that we are doing wrong?) Sources tell me his legal fees in Dallas have eclipsed $70mm, and certain very generous Dallas friends are chipping in to cover those.

4433 Bordeaux, Dallas

This is a very sad story for the family, and I hate to even have to report it. (If I don’t, someone else will.) My heart goes out to them and I truly hope they can find peace with each other someday — life is really too short. Careful readers will recall when I told you the Hills dismissed their Dallas household staff in July, paid them in full, and handed out letters of recommendation. Some of the staff has complained that when prospective employers contacted the Hills for references, as promised, they got nada. Seems like they are really trying to cut all ties with Dallas.