Reassessments are postponed, but you should still file an appeal

Well, maybe, finally, the dust has settled.  The controversial reassessment figures won’t be used until next year.  But they will come into play eventually, so property owners who feel their reassessment was too high still should file for a formal appeal.  The deadline to file is February 10 and it’s easy to do; just fill out this form (you can also pick up a copy at the PHCA office), fill it out, and mail it in .

At the January Polish Hill community meeting, guest speaker Wayde Fargotstein, from the Allegheny County Assessment office gave residents some pointers on presenting an effective case.

— In deciding whether to appeal, look at the overall value of the property.  Don’t get distracted by the increased land values; look at the overall number.  If the total is consistent with what comparables are selling for, you might be better off accepting the assessment.

— You need to show some comparables, or comps, (properties with characteristics that are similar to the property whose value is being sought) from your area.  Wayde noted that although there are comps on your property page, it’s better to select your own.  You can find information on comparable properties on the Allegheny County Assessment website — go to the bottom of this page, click on Continue, and enter your street name, or the name of a street nearby that has similar properties.  When you enter just the street name, a list of all the properties on that street will come up.  Find three that have been sold within the last two years and are close to your property in size and condition.  For each, print out the information page, also the second page, with property condition, and the photo.  That’s three sheets for each comp — now make 3 copies of each.  You will have to leave the paper documentation with the officers.

— Keep in mind that assessments are about market value, not what you paid for your house.  If there’s a reason why your property is worth less than comparables, you need to prove it with documentation.  Maybe the roof leaks, it needs new windows or a furnace.  Take pictures of all conditions that would reduce the value.  Other valid forms of documentation might be receipts for repairs, or estimates from contractors.

— If your house has been appraised by a licensed professional in the past couple of years, take that appraisal.

District 7 Councilman Patrick Dowd’s office has been keeping track of properties sold recently and are compiling a list of recent sale prices.  Seniors and others without internet access can call Councilman Dowd’s office at 412.255.2140 for help in finding comps; the office can send copies of info in the mail.

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