Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tim Garrity gets interviewed in an article for Metro Philadelphia

Metro.us - Philadelphia

"How to appraise your Philly home" is an article that was put together by Julia West over at Metro; super easy to work with.

After contacting me via email, Julia wanted answers to questions such as: What is the price range for 2 bedroom homes in Manayunk/Roxborough?, What makes some homes fall into the higher-end of the range, versus the lower-end of the range?, and What types of repairs/upgrades create value in a Manayunk/Roxborough home?

All great questions. My buddy Abe at US Spaces was also quoted as well.

I did my best, so feel free to check out the article that was posted to the Metro Philadelphia website. It was also published in the Wednesday 6/26 print version.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Well, it's official ... AVI is here.

Philadelphia AVI Assumptions - February 2013

AVI, otherwise known as Philadelphia's Actual Value Initiative, was brought about to modernize (or fix) the city's broken property tax system.

Everyone has their own take on AVI, and most people who write about the subject really get into the nitty-gritty details of the math, property tax histories, etc. My promise during this post is not to do any of that, but to provide a professional, real estate based opinion on why I feel AVI is a good thing for Philadelphia.

First and foremost, the city's pre-AVI system was flawed. It was outdated, it lacked logic, and it really focused on certain real estate owners; meaning that some people actually were taxed differently, even though they owned similar properties and (in some cases) even lived on the same block. According to this Axis Philly map, there are 2 large sections of Philadelphia (Northwest & Northeast Philadelphia), that will be seeing big changes to their taxes as a whole (and for the better). And I'm not just saying that because I live in Roxborough, even though I'm stoked that my property taxes will be going down.

You can see what I mean by checking out this map.

Large portions of real estate in both NW & NE Philadelphia are heavily colored in "blue." Any shade of blue means that these owners' property taxes will actually be going down in 2014, from their 2013 levels. It also means that pre-2014, these homes were "overtaxed" (in the eyes of the city) according to it's new, easy-to-understand-and-use, tax system.

Here's why I feel that AVI is easy to understand, and also why I feel it's a step in the right direction for Philadelphia's overall property tax system.

You take your assessed value, multiply it by the property tax rate of 1.34% (which was just recently approved and my motivation for writing this post), and you get your annual property taxes.

Simple, right? Yes, it is simple.

The only other catch out there is what's called the Homestead Exemption. This is not as logical to me as AVI, but it will help some people with the drastic tax changes coming in 2014. The HE allows you to take $30K off of your assessed value, and all you have to do is complete a form. Again, it doesn't make too much sense, but it is what it is.

If you are approved for the HE, here's your new formula: Assessed Value - $30,000 x 1.34% = Annuual Property Taxes.

Now, here's why I like AVI.

It's a fair system. Are the newly assessed values not 100% accurate? Of course. Are they more accurate than before? Much more accurate. Therefore, taxes are more fair because we are now dealing with realistic/current assessed values. If you are not happy with your assessed value, you have the right to an appeal. I don't know how you can be more fair than that.

That's 1 for AVI.

It shares the city's tax burden. What do you think is one of the biggest reasons why Philadelphia has such a high wage tax? They don't have enough money to cover their annual budget. Why don't they have enough money to cover their annual budget? Well, we could get into a year-long argument over local politics, cronyism, unions, pensions, fringe benefits, and the like; but that's not why I'm posting about AVI  today. The wage tax is high (and focused more on businesses) because our property taxes were low; until now. I don't feel that just taxing the h*ll out of loyal Philadelphians is the best solution, but in all honesty we should help shoulder the burden by paying our fair share; and AVI is fair. I also feel that taxing businesses less will help bring more jobs, more opportunity, etc.

That's 2 for AVI.

It's a legitimate formula, it makes sense, and it's easy to understand. Assessed Value x Tax Rate = Annual Taxes. It doesn't get any easier than that, and every property is now looked at in the same way. Do I think the tax rate they agreed upon is high? I can't share an opinion on that yet, because all of this is too new to truly comprehend. I can say that compared to Philadelphia's neighboring suburbs, it's a good starting point. Again, we could argue all day over unfair tax abatements, the quality of Philadelphia's public services, public schools, crime rates, etc. And I'll say this again, that's not why I am posting today.

That's 3 for AVI.

My hope is that this post generates some good comments and opinions from my fellow Philadelphians. But please, try to keep the caps lock off and the cursing to a minimum.

PS - You can calculate your own Philadelphia property taxes by using this handy AVI Calculator.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Big plans for the lower banks of the Schuylkill River


If you read PhillyUrbanLiving.com regularly, and have kept up with most of my past posts, I mentioned this plan back in 2011 with the title, "Will industrial jobs come back to Philadelphia?"

Well, all I can say is that the city is planning for it; which is a good thing.

In recent years, maybe it was the foresight of the Nutter administration or maybe it was just good timing, I truly feel like the City of Philadelphia is really starting to map out its future ... by planning for it. Not only with the help of local experts, but with citizen input as well. Planning for the Central Delaware Waterfront and Philadelphia 2035, are just a few examples of large-scale Philadelphia planning in action.

But why is this plan important enough to blog about?

I think the Lower Schuylkill Master Plan may be one of the most important visions to come about in recent years. Not only for the prospect of it actually happening, but because it connects South/Southwest Philadelphia neighborhoods to Center City and University City (neighborhoods that have laid dormant for years, since Philadelphia's industrial might left town). Therefore, I find that this plan is extremely important for both local jobs and the future strength of those neighborhoods.

It's a good read, so if you're super into the details, take some time and see what Philadelphia has planned for the lower banks of the Schuylkill River.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Development in Point Breeze is already moving west

25th & Ellsworth - Point Breeze

If you recall a recent post that I did on CHOP's new development in/around Graduate Hospital / Point Breeze / Grays Ferry, my point was centered around the PB/GF neighborhoods and the importance of securing anchor projects (like CHOP's).

Now whether these anchor projects are residential or commercial at this point is moot, because what this area really needs as a whole is a stiff jolt in the arm; new growth. That jolt is productive development that will enhance the local micro-economies of both PB + GF, and increase the population in/around these neighborhoods without jeopardizing the stability of its current residents.

Tall order, but this is a start.

What this small'ish, residential project really does is increase the likelihood that Grays Ferry will indeed become a fringe/spillover neighborhood, at some point in the not-to-distant future, to G-Ho. In fact I believe a development such as this is so important, that it can potentially expand existing neighborhoods (like what has been happening in Kensington). Hence, GF + PB = G-Ho Spillover.

This past post will also shed some light on why I feel this may be happening.

The other reason why I believe this project may create what I am now officially dubbing the "No-Libs Effect," is because it is being built right next to a huge neighborhood barrier: 25th Street's Elevated Train Trestle. This concrete monster is as visible a neighborhood barrier can be. Not only is it a pain to drive/navigate under, but it completely separates PB from GF; literally.

Building on the border, and next to an active train line, may actually be the first step toward the growth of these 2 neighborhoods. It will also help legitimize Philadelphia's identity as an up-and-coming, modern city that's changing for the better.