This Saturday, the last day of the week most USPS postal centers are open for business and to get letters postmarked, is the last day you have to get those First Level Review Forms filed with the Office of Property Assessment.
One reason you should appeal: your house is damaged and the City doesn’t know about it.
It’s not actually listed on the OPA form, but what you’re telling OPA is that they got the market value of your house wrong, and that’s because you would have to knock down the price of your house because you have defects and damages to your house that differ from similar homes that don’t have the same flaws and defects that you have with your own home.
Last night I was in a bar in Kensington and spoke to a homeowner who lives in Port Richmond. Her basement continuously floods when it rains. It will cost her $8,000 to $9,000 to reseal her basement, and those rubber basement seals don’t have endless lifespans. Her assessment was raising her to the level of brand new gut-and-rehabs in Port Richmond, which is clearly wrong.
If this neighbor decided to sell her house for what OPA thought it could sell for, this woman would never be able to sell her home for that. Sometimes a buyer and seller will agree on a price and after a home inspection it’s discovered there is damage.
In Philadelphia it is very common for buyers and sellers to agree to a seller’s assist. Instead of the owner of the home using their own contractor and repairing the house, the buyer and seller agree on how much the repairs will cost, you go to the settlement for the sale price and what the seller of the house will do is cut you a check for the amount of the seller’s assist. Mortgage companies agree to do these assists all the time and they happen very frequently.
If you agree to buy a house for $195K but you do a seller’s assist, what you’re actually doing is agreeing to take on a mortgage for the original sale price. You agree with the seller how much money the seller will give up at settlement to cover the repairs, and before you get the keys to the house, you get a cashier’s check. It’s simple, it’s easy and above all, it’s the most painless way to buy a house that has some flaws and get the house to the way you want to fix it up.
The City has no clue who does seller’s assists and who doesn’t, or for how much. If you got holes in your party walls letting water gush in, there’s no way OPA will know this.
That’s why you need to stop what you’re doing, estimate how much damage your house has if you have any, and fill in that First Level Review form. Take what you think your house could sell for if it was perfect with no flaws and subtract the amount of money you know you would be forced to write down your house for if you were to sell it. That’s your Actual Value.
For every $10,000 you can write off your home’s value, that’s $132.07 a year in potential savings assuming the tax rate will be 1.3207% as Mayor Nutter suggested.
If you don’t fill out the First Level Review, and nearly 18,000 Philadelphians have already sent theirs in, you will have to do a BRT appeal, which can seem daunting. You have to take off work, you have to do quite a bit of research on your own property, and most people hire an attorney to help them prepare their appeal and present it to the Board of Revision of Taxes.
That costs money. The First Level Review costs you an envelope and a postage stamp.
Tags: AVI | First Level Review