Tuesday, February 22, 2011

So you want to calculate your new property tax bill?


So you want to figure out if your property tax bill is going to go up with the new assessment?  Good luck with that.
Trib has begun what will be a tsunami of coverage on the coming reassessment (as compared to the coverage of the political machinations that lead up to it) this year.  They have also compiled via Realstats a lot of numbers which are fascinating in themselves.   You can see their interactive site which shows the change in property values from the 2002 base year reference for Allegheny municipalities and wards in the city.  Worth checking out in itself, there are some increases, and even some substantial decreases, in certain areas.   Wards 10 and 12, East liberty(update, see below) and Homewood have seen a nominal decrease in their housing values by 50%.  So adjusted for inflation you are talking -60, -70% give or take over a remarkably short period of less than a decade. That Eastside spillover sure has been extensive.  Imagine the counterfactual without all that economic development and how far property taxes would have dropped.  And when you compare that value to the average market increase, there will properties that see their tax bills drop by 70-75% if these numbers hold up in the county's assessment model. 
Reality is a bit more painful since to get a market transaction, as is used to compute those numbers, you need to... well.. have a market transaction.  Truth is there is so much vacancy and 'dead' parcels in Homewood that most of the market is not making it to a sale.  In economic speak, the market is not clearing, most likely because the real economic value of most parcels is negative and we just have a hard time dealing with the concept of negative property valuations.  So if we could calulate the actual value of properties in some neighborhoods they would be a lot less than even these numbers. 
Braddock's decline, since it is obligatory to talk about Braddock, is only -35%, but when you are down to an average sales price (even after taking out non-arms lenght transactions mind you) of $13K you have to wonder how much lower you can go.. though to be honest, if Braddock is up to $13K it may represent an improvement in the most recent years.  Scary as that is.

Not to pick on Braddock alone.. Homestead -43%, and down to an average value of $19K, so ditto on the impact the Waterfront has had on the actual community of Homestead.  But again, in both communities it appears tax bills will be cut in half.

Their coverage  also gives a starting point explaining that with county wide assessments going up 25% on average it is estimated, your taxes will go up or down based on whether your home’s assessed value went up more or less than 25%.. not if it went up or down period.  If your home’s value went up by 10%, which would be a decent gain given the national real estate news in recent years, your county tax bill will likely be going down.
Fox Chapel from their data shows an increase in value of 14%.. Which if the county really does appreciate by 25% means that for homeowners in Fox Chapel, their county tax bill at least will actually be going down.  Law of unintended consequences pops up again.
But those are just your county taxes, which for virtually everyone is the smallest of the 3 property taxes you pay if you are a property owner.   Much bigger bills come from your school district and your municipality, and for those the 25% benchmark is pretty much irrelevant.
So with anti-windfall laws pretty much going to force taxing bodies to reset millage rates to keep their collections revenue-neutral with the new assessment values…  will your taxes be going up?  Basically you need 8 numbers to figure that out.
For the county, the average assessment in 2002 vs. now.
For your municipality, the average assessment in 2002 vs. now.
Your school district's average assessment in 2002 vs. now.
Your own home's assessment from 2002 compared to it’s new assessment.
We will skip the added complexities of calculating who is actually paying their tax bills which need to be figured in anti-windfall calculations.  But hold that thought. Probably good to note that the story today was all in anticipation of new assessment values.  Some may be confused; you have not been sent those values yet.  They are slated to begin mailing on July 4th.

I guess you need 3 more numbers to calculate this out..  You will need the millage rates for your 3 taxing bodies to allow you to weight that out, or to calculate your tax bill explicitly.  So 11 numbers in total.  So once you get all that data together, come back to me and we will come up with a number for whether your total property tax bill increases, or decreases.

3 Comments:

Anonymous MH said...

Hopefully the mortgage company won't notice for a while. Last time it took them six months.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 6:42:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

Sounds like a good situation for an online calculator of some sort.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 9:13:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

By the way, it is great the local media is starting to explain to people why they need to think of the likely impact of the assessment in terms of how their appreciation compares to an average in the relevant taxing jurisdiction. But next up, I think it would be helpful if they started explaining the implications of the average in question being a weighted average, and what that means for homes in the same jurisdiction that started at significantly different valuation levels in 2002.

To make a long story short, broadly speaking we could identify two different scenarios regarding differential appreciation: the rich-get-richer scenario, in which the higher-value homes in the jurisdiction in 2002 experienced the most appreciation, and the spread-the-wealth (aka gentrification) scenario, in which the lower-value homes in the jurisdiction in 2002 experienced the most appreciation.

I'm not sure people realize that these two different scenarios have different implications for percentage tax increases on the homes that experience the most appreciation. And even if they were aware there might be a difference, they might guess wrong about how it would work.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 10:15:00 AM  

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