Even though your Principal Residence Exemption will not take effect until January of 2009, make sure that your exemption is filed with the taxing authority (city, village or township) as soon as you become the owner. This document should be part of the package you will sign at closing.
You will then be listed as the owner of the property on the city or township tax roles, and you can ask your mortgage company to contact them in January to get a correct estimate of your 2009 taxes, (for the calculation of the monthly amount you will be paying into your escrow for those taxes to be paid from next year). Request a Re-analysis of your escrow for taxes in January, and provide the contact information for your taxing authority to the mortgage co. person that will handle it.
If it is not homesteaded now, your escrow portion of your mortgage payment will be higher until you make sure it is changed, and generally, so will the 2 months or so advance escrow amount for taxes that the lender will add in at closing. It is Michigan law that you must file by May 1 to have the exemption for any year. Just be glad that you are not buying the home in June!
For additional information on Michigan property tax questions:
http://activerain.com/blogsview/601855/Questions-on-Property-Taxes in Michigan
These are all valid points and true. Your taxes cannot be homesteaded this year. You'll have to wait til '09 to file your homestead exemption.
The question I have for you is, is the property tax AMOUNT for 2008 different from what was listed in the property detail? If it is different (more) then you should inquire about getting something back from the seller since the amount of taxes was mis-represented. If the amount of taxes was not misrepresented then you should be happy. You were expecting to pay that much anyway and you were fine with it if that's how much the taxes on that particular home were, only now you have the added benefit of knowing they will go down next year!
At the end of they day, I doubt you are buying the home because the '08 taxes are homestead or not homestead. You are buying it because you want to live there and you feel you're getting good value.
Non homestead is 18 mills higher or 54% more in taxes in Fenton. Since you will be closing after 2008 summer taxes are paid you will be paying most of the higher tax as part of your closing costs. See if your mortgage rep can have them escow less, since 2009 taxes will be lower, which will lower your payment. If not although you will pay it every month, once they check your escrow account next your you will have an overage and you should get the money back.
You have some good advice here. One thing I would like to add...you won't be paying double. In the City of Fenton, it will depend on the school district for your millage rate. Double check with the Assessor's Office but in my experience, the non-homestead rate is generally 30% higher than the homestead rate you will receive on your Summer 2009 tax bill. Enjoy your new home!
You must not have had a buyer's agent? The job of a buyers agent is to verify, confirm, check, and double-check that information.
Your sole recourse, on the tax issue, is to file your paperwork and wait to notice your homesteaded rate on your Summer '09 bill. Your Winter '08 bill will be non-homestead, and there is nothing you can do about that.
Enjoy your new home ... hopefully you got a great deal and the nominal amount in taxes will surely offset itself in very short order...