Weekend Links for July 7, 2012

Today I bring you the history of property tax in Illinois. Because I am a giant dork.

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July! Here's some of the stuff that kept me entertained over the holiday.

  • Hey guys! I found the history of property taxes in Illinois! Tea parties, barbeque parties and Tupperware parties aside, the history of property tax law can be pretty interesting. With taxes go the rise and fall of the public infrastructure. Check out this really cool survey of the history of property taxes in Illinois, courtesy of WoodfordTaxFacts.org.
  • Demystifying FICO. There's a lot of myth and fear around credit scores. Get to the truth of the matter. Check out this breakdown of the components of a credit score from ScoreInfo.org.
  • Eviction of the week. Rather than an actual eviction story this week, here's a thought-provoking analysis of the morality inside the "barbaric practice" of modern eviction. Author Mario Salazar sidetracks through the history of evictions, but focuses on the "blame the victim" mentality of shame. After all, dumping someone's belongings out on the street is pretty darn medieval.
  • $140 billion in debt - who's to blame? Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas has made public the financial statements of the assorted county tax districts. This includes their debt and their tax increases going back 10 years. If you know your property's PIN number, head over to the Taxing District Search and find out where your taxes are going. It's also worth knowing how much debt your neighborhood is carrying out of the $140 billion currently owed by the county. (If you don't know your PIN, head over to CookCountyPropertyInfo.comfirst to get your PIN and then head over to the Taxing District Search.)

    CHA's "Lathrop Homes" development of 920 low-income housing units sits about 80% empty.

  • Everybody's got to live somewhere. Angela Caputo of the Chicago Reporter broke the story this week that 20% of the CHA's rental property is sitting empty even though the administration is still receiving funding from HUD as if all of the units are occupied. Held "offline" to repair damage, modernization or simply due to sluggish turnaround times, these units could be occupied by low-income residents who are instead being sent into privately-owned homes.
  • Pretty and flexible. Good in a Yoga instructor and in an apartment.

    Making the most of a tiny space. As apartment prices go up, available space shrinks. This gorgeous New York apartment design uses clean white lines and long straight furniture to trick the eye. It also makes the most of a single room rental by turning the largest objects into multitasking workhorses. Courtesy of Freshome.com.

  • Real life (or a reasonable facsimile). If the real world real estate market is getting you down, there's always MySimRealty.com, a site where you can download virtual land, houses and apartments for your Sims in video game "The Sims 3." The designs featured give an interesting insight into fantasy architecture, and the property descriptions used by the site's owner could well have been cribbed from our local MLS. It's almost a pity they're pixellated.
  • The cost of staying cool. If you've got a central A/C unit from before 2010, the cost to maintain it is going up. A lot. Find out why your A/C maintenance costs are getting worse in this Angie's list Q&A.

Thanks for stopping by!