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Assessment crap

I am certain I have never used the word "crap" in blog post title, but crap is pretty much what I consider the Allegheny County reassessment mess. This is a long post, but I have to get it out.

When we bought our house in 2002, we paid $87,000 for it. At the time, it was assessed for $92,300. I clearly remember the settlement agent telling us we should appeal to get it down to $87,000. I decided not to bother since I had hoped to sell our house within three to five years and wanted to get more than what we paid for it.

We tried unsuccessfully to sell our house back in 2007 and 2008. At that time, the only offer we had was too low. But looking back, we probably should have taken it, because I am very confident that today, we would not get that 90k for our house.

Not only is the market bad, but we live in an area where home values have been on the decline. We live on a cul-de-sac, but on the street we use to get to ours, out of about 15 houses that sold over the past three years, the average price was about $73,000. Another street off that same street (which is not on a cul-de-sac) had home prices that averaged about $43,000 in that same three-year period. Only one house has sold on our street in the past three years, and it was for $123,000, but you can't base much on number.

So what does the great Ozsessor think our house is worth? Why, over $100,000! As I said on Facebook, if someone wants to pay that much for our house, I will sell it tomorrow. We would NEVER get it in our area. Interestingly enough the assessor thinks that the 123k house on our street, which is about the same size as ours, is worth $95,000. So let me get this straight: Our house is now worth over $13,000 more than what we paid for it, but the house two houses down is somehow worth almost $30,000 less than what they paid for it? Come again?

Even better is our next-door neighbor, whose house sold for $117,000 back in 2004. The great assessor thinks his abode is now worth $86,000, which is a decrease of more than $30,000.

For the record, I have right in front of me the house printouts (the one that lists room dimensions) for my house and those two above from when each last sold. According to what is on each of those papers, the houses all have about 1200 square feet inside. Yes, each house is styled slightly differently, but it is not as if I am trying to compare a 3,000 square foot tudor on 1.5 acres with a 1,000 square foot townhouse. Worth noting is that according to the county website, our house and the 123k bought/95k assessed house have about 1,750 square feet whereas the 117k bought/86k assessed house has less than 1,500 square feet.

Even if my taxes end up not going up (which is a possibility, because as I understand it, values greater than 25 percent are the ones who will feel the pain), I cannot let this ridiculousness go. These numbers are so arbitrary that I have to wonder if someone just had a bunch of numbers on a dartboard and picked numbers based on where the darts landed.



Oh, how frustrating! The same thing is going on in our town and everyone is livid. Just as the housing market crashed and nobody could sell their houses, the property tax assessments went way up - talk about adding insult to injury. Have you considered fighting your assessment? Good luck if you do!
bluzdude said…
I just can't get over that you can get a house out there for 70-90K. In Baltimore, for that money you get a rowhouse in a crappy neighborhood, AND it's a fixer-upper.

Think I'll retire to Pittsburgh... (in about 20 years...)
Facie said…
Kristen: I am absolutely going to fight it. I have the information I blogged about, plus a friend is a realtor, and she has given me lists of properties in my area with their selling price. I will need a lot of luck, so thanks!

Bluz: You can get a house in some areas for 20k. And not all of those areas are really scary, either. But if you want to live in a really nice suburb, you will pay for it. If our house was located in the suburb we liked, which is about 15 miles from us, it would probably cost about 150k. Put it in one of the top ones, and you are talking at least 175k (though I imagine the rich people would not settle for a 3 BR, 1.5 BA house).

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