Tax Appeal Deadline Approaching

If you live in Philadelphia, you have probably already received your Proposed Notice of Valuation for 2019 from the Office of Property Assessment (OPA).  Keep in mind that this is NOT A BILL.  It’s a notice stating that the OPA believes that the value of your property has increased and that your assessment (and property taxes) will also be increased, as a result.  If you feel that your new proposed assessment value is incorrect, you do have the right to file a First Level Appeal (FLA).  The deadline for filing an FLA is May 25, 2018.

What is a First Level Appeal?  The following information was taken directly from the OPA website and describes what an FLA is and the process:

http://www.phila.gov/OPA/Assessments/Pages/Appeals.aspx

First Level Review & Appeal

The First Level Review (FLR) process has been put in place for property owners who believe the new proposed value of their property for TY19 is incorrect. Forms to request an FLR have been included in the April mailing. If you do not receive or misplace your FLR form, please contact 215-686-9200 to request a replacement form.

The FLR process is as follows:

  • Complete and submit the FLR request form—one FLR form per parcel—and include any additional information for the Office of Property Assessment (OPA) to consider, such as photos or recent appraisals, by May 25, 2018.
  • Based on the submitted information, the Evaluator may decrease, increase or keep the assessed value the same.

Commercial/Multi-Family properties that receive an assessment notice for TY19 and wish to file an FLR, must also include income and expense forms for the last two years (2016 and 2017). The forms are below:

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the review or decide to skip the FLR process altogether, you may file a Formal Appeal with the Board of Revision of Taxes (BRT). Formal appeals are due to the BRT by the first Monday in October (1, 2018).

The deadline for filing an appeal is quickly approaching!  In the next few days, I will be sharing more information on the Philly Tax Appeal Process.  Topics like:

How does the OPA Assess Property?

Do I need an Appraisal to file a FLR Appeal?

Will the OPA show me the sales that they used to assess my property?

In the meantime, if you need an appraisal or have any questions pertaining to your new Proposed Value or your appeal, please feel free to contact us at appraisals@coyleappraisals.com or 215.836.5500

 

 

 

 

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Take a Pic and Ask a Question!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you ever see something at a property and find that you have questions, just take a picture or shoot a video and text your question to me!  Questions like…Is this an FHA or VA repair issue? Is this functional obsolescence? Is this likely to have an effect on the value?  Should my Seller have this repaired prior to putting the house on the market?   I’ll give you my professional opinion.  Please feel free to share this with your Philly Agent/Broker colleagues!

 

Michael Coyle  text  610-316-8007

 

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. We also provide “footprint” sketches for determining a more accurate square footage of a property.  If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

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Celebrating 10 Years!

On January 1, 2018, The Coyle Group celebrated the beginning of our 10th year in business!  We owe our success to the countless real estate agents, property owners, attorneys, banks, credit unions and mortgage professionals who have come to trust us and rely upon our services.  Every day we strive to serve our clients and provide value.  We appreciate your loyalty and business as we look forward to the next 10 years!

To show our appreciation we are offering 10% Off all Pre-Listing, Estate, Tax Appeal, PMI Removal, Bankruptcy and Divorce appraisals ordered throughout the month of February 2018!  Just mention this post or coupon code:  10FOR10

Eligible properties are non-complex Single Family Dwellings located in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware & Chester Counties.  The appraisal must be paid for by Check, Cash or PayPal at or prior to the time of appointment.

Thank you!

TCG Logo

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. We also provide “footprint” sketches for determining a more accurate square footage of a property.  If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

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Why Knowing the Actual Square Footage is So Important

This past tax appeal season we got to see first-hand how important it is to know the true square footage of a house. In this case, it saved our client over $4,000 per year!

We were hired to do a tax appeal appraisal of a home in the Bryn Mawr section of Lower Merion Township. The homeowner was paying over $15,000 per year in property tax. It was a very straightforward assignment.

So, we inspected and measured the property. Our measurements showed that the house was 2,808 SF.  Not a big house by Main Line standards but, a good size.  The problem was that the assessor’s record and sketch of the house showed that the property was 4,438 SF.  That’s a huge disparity.

After talking with the assessor, we found out that the house had only been measured from the exterior and that the assessor never went inside the house. Had the assessor gained entry to the house they would have seen that a large part of the first floor had ceilings that were actually two stories high.  The assessor assumed that the second floor mirrored the foot print of the first floor.

In this case, knowing the true square footage got our client a 25% reduction in their assessment which translated into over $4,000 per year in savings going forward!

As an Agent, you can’t always rely on what is in the public records. If you ever find yourself questioning the square footage, it’s always best to have the property measured.  The most common lawsuit against real estate agents is for misrepresentation of a property’s square footage.  A simple “footprint” sketch can save you from all sorts of headaches and possibly a law suit.

Most appraisers can provide basic sketches that will give you a good idea of the actual square footage. If you need something more detailed and “professional” there are several services that will do architectural renderings of a property that are great for high-end marketing pieces.

 

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. We also provide “footprint” sketches for determining a more accurate square footage of a property.  If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

 

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Conditionally Speaking…

Why do appraisers use alphanumeric Condition Ratings like C4 and C3?  Why not just say “Average” or “Good”?

Well, the long answer to that is there is now a thing called the Uniform Appraisal Dataset (UAD).  It’s been around since 2011. It standardized the way appraisers classify the appraisal data. It was basically implemented as a way for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to data-mine information from appraisal reports.  But that’s a discussion for another day.

One of the bi-products of the UAD is the Condition Rating system.  It consists of classes ranging from C1 – C6 that rate a property’s overall condition.  The thought being that a property will fit neatly into one of these categories and that condition is an absolute.  Prior to the UAD appraisers would classify condition using more subjective terms such as “Good”, “Average”, “Fair” and “Poor”.  Granted, the definition of these terms varied from appraiser to appraiser and report to report, which wasn’t always ideal.

The uniformity created by the UAD is a good thing.  It basically levels the playing field and has all appraisers speaking the same “language”.  Unfortunately, the rest of the real estate industry has not adopted the Condition Rating system developed by the UAD.  Real estate agents, homeowners and others involved in real estate still use the old “Good”, “Average”, “Fair” and “Poor” method of describing condition.

As a real estate professional, it’s worth getting to know the appraiser’s language when it comes to rating the condition of a property.  Imagine showing up at an appraisal appointment and saying to the appraiser, “Hey, I’ve pulled some sales for you and they are all in C3 condition, like the subject.”  From an appraiser’s point of view, your credibility just shot up and I’m going to look over your sales data more seriously.  You may even want to start using the UAD condition ratings in your property descriptions.

Understanding the UAD Condition Rating system isn’t hard.  Here is a rundown of the classifications and the criteria for each of those classes.  When you read through them you’ll see that they are pretty cut-and-dry, and that a property will typically fall nicely into one of these ratings.

C1 – The improvements have been very recently constructed and have not previously been occupied. The entire structure and all components are new and the dwelling features no physical depreciation.

Note: Newly constructed improvements that feature recycled materials and/or components can be considered new dwellings provided that the dwelling is placed on a 100 percent new foundation and the recycled materials and the recycled components have been rehabilitated/re-manufactured into like-new condition. Improvements that have not been previously occupied are not considered “new” if they have any significant physical depreciation (that is, newly constructed dwellings that have been vacant for an extended period of time without adequate maintenance or upkeep).

C2 – The improvements feature no deferred maintenance, little or no physical depreciation, and require no repairs. Virtually all building components are new or have been recently repaired, refinished, or rehabilitated. All outdated components and finishes have been updated and/or replaced with components that meet current standards. Dwellings in this category either are almost new or have been recently completely renovated and are similar in condition to new construction.

Note: The improvements represent a relatively new property that is well-maintained with no deferred maintenance and little or no physical depreciation, or an older property that has been recently completely renovated.

C3 – The improvements are well-maintained and feature limited physical depreciation due to normal wear and tear. Some components, but not every major building component, may be updated or recently rehabilitated. The structure has been well-maintained.

Note: The improvement is in its first-cycle of replacing short-lived building components (appliances, floor coverings, HVAC, etc.) and is being well– maintained. Its estimated effective age is less than its actual age. It also may reflect a property in which the majority of short-lived building components have been replaced but not to the level of a complete renovation.

C4 – The improvements feature some minor deferred maintenance and physical deterioration due to normal wear and tear. The dwelling has been adequately maintained and requires only minimal repairs to building components/mechanical systems and cosmetic repairs. All major building components have been adequately maintained and are functionally adequate.

Note: The estimated effective age may be close to or equal to its actual age. It reflects a property in which some of the short-lived building components have been replaced, and some short-lived building components are at or near the end of their physical life expectancy; however, they still function adequately. Most minor repairs have been addressed on an ongoing basis resulting in an adequately maintained property.

C5 – The improvements feature obvious deferred maintenance and are in need of some significant repairs. Some building components need repairs, rehabilitation, or updating. The functional utility and overall livability are somewhat diminished due to condition, but the dwelling remains useable and functional as a residence.

Note: Some significant repairs are needed to the improvements due to the lack of adequate maintenance. It reflects a property in which many of its short-lived building components are at the end of or have exceeded their physical life expectancy, but remain functional.

C6 – The improvements have substantial damage or deferred maintenance with deficiencies or defects that are severe enough to affect the safety, soundness, or structural integrity of the improvements. The improvements are in need of substantial repairs and rehabilitation, including many or most major components.

Note: Substantial repairs are needed to the improvements due to the lack of adequate maintenance or property damage. It reflects a property with conditions severe enough to affect the safety, soundness, or structural integrity of the improvements.

If you have any questions about Condition Ratings or any other appraisal related matter, please feel free to contact us by phone, email or by visiting our FaceBook page.

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

 

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Tax Appeal Reduction

Each year at The Coyle Group, we work with dozens of homeowners to appeal their real estate taxes.  Honestly, getting letters like this from our clients still never gets old.  Here’s one where our client received a 34% reduction in their assessment.  In this case that translated into an annual tax savings of $18,875!!!

While results like this are not the norm, it’s nice to know that a well-prepared appraisal can help some tax payers see some pretty sweet reductions.

Tax Appeal Season starts sooner than you may think.  If you or your clients are thinking about appealing their tax appeal assessment, you may want to start in early Spring 2018.  Filing deadlines are typically in the beginning of August but, be sure to check with your county assessors office for the exact date.

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

 

 

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FHA & VA Repairs?…be sure to Ask Questions!

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer, so far.  I haven’t posted recently but ran into a situation that all agents should be aware of, especially those who work with FHA & VA Buyers.

Now most FHA and VA purchase appraisals will result in a list of mandatory repairs that must be completed and signed-off on prior to the Buyer receiving FHA or VA financing.  The repairs are typically the responsibility of the Seller to complete.  The only problem, in my experience, is that the Sellers often don’t want to incur the expense of those repairs and will often cut corners in doing so.

There was a situation like this last week where our office completed an FHA appraisal for a Buyer in Mount Airy.  The appraisal was delivered to the lender along with a list of required repairs and pictures of those repair items. The lender sent the list of repairs to the Seller’s agent.  However, the photos were not sent.  What resulted was a lot of confusion and a postponement of settlement.

In this case, the Seller did not fully understand what was being requested in the list of repairs.  The Seller’s agent was not aware that the Seller was confused and was interpreting the list of repairs incorrectly.  So, when the Seller read “Stain/Paint the exposed wood on the exterior of the rear deck” they just assumed that the repair meant the deck flooring.  Had they seen the pictures in the report, they would have understood that the appraiser was calling the exposed wood in the entire deck to be stained/painted.  This included the floor decking, the railings, the handrails and posts.  Check out the photos below to see what was missed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the appraiser went out to do the final inspection, he had to inform the lender that the repairs were not competed.  The lender informed the Seller’s agent and the Seller who thought the repairs were done and that they were settling the next day.  In fact, they now had to complete the additional repairs which delayed settlement for several days.

The moral of the story is, as a Seller involved with FHA/VA Buyers, it is imperative that you have a full understanding of the repairs required by the appraiser.  Be sure that you request any pictures of damage or repairs that the Seller might be responsible for completing.  Lastly, if you have any questions or are unsure about what is being asked of you and your Seller, reach out to the Buyer’s lender and ask them to obtain clarification from the appraiser.  Most appraisers are more than happy to help out.

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

 

 

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Don’t Rely on the Public Records…

Don’t Rely on the Public Records…When It Comes to Reporting Gross Living Area Accurately.

Just today, I had a situation where I was asked to appraise a property in the Graduate Hospital area.  As it turns out, the homeowner informed me that I was the second appraiser to look at the property.  This was a For Sale By Owner, as well.  The owner also stated that the reason that a second appraisal was ordered was because the first appraiser “muffed-up” the sketch and got the GLA all wrong.  Apparently, the calculations on the sketch were a couple hundred square feet smaller that what was recorded in the public records.  I could feel my eyes beginning to roll backwards.

The homeowner was hanging her hat and the potential sale of her property on the Philadelphia public records.  Geez.  She was very insistent that the other appraiser had no idea what they were doing.  The idea that the public records could be wrong never crossed her mind.  She’d been living in a house of certain size for 10 years and no one was going to tell her different.

So, I went about my inspection, making sure to measure twice.  Upon getting back to my office I drew the floor plan up using my sketch software.  As luck would have it I must have “muffed-up” the sketch, as well.  My calculations were some 200 SF smaller than what was reported in the public records.  Imagine that, two, seasoned, professional appraisers made the same mistakes and arrived at almost the exact same GLA for her home?!?!

The lesson here is it’s never a good idea to rely solely on the public records when it comes to matters of GLA.  Think about it.  Where does the information in the public records come from?  Did an assessor measure the property?  Did a developer provide the info when submitting plans?  Was it taken from an architects rendering?  Who knows?

If you really want to know the accurate GLA of a property, you have to measure it…whether you measure it yourself or use a measuring service!  It’s not difficult to do and can help you avoid all sorts of headaches and misunderstanding.  If you have any questions about how measure a house or about our Home Measuring Services, just let me know.

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

 

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When Do You Need A Listing Appraisal?

This question was asked of me the other day…it’s one that I hear a lot.

When should I get a Listing Appraisal and do I have to share it the Listing Appraisal with potential  buyers?

Great question!  Let me break it down into two parts.

When should you get a Listing Appraisal?  There is really no “written in stone” time to get a Listing Appraisal.  However, here are a few suggestions as to when you may want to think about it:

  • When you are trying to get a new listing
  • When you are trying to retain a current listing
  • When your sellers are reluctant to adjust the price to the market
  • When your listing’s Days on Market (DOM) are higher than the average DOM for your market
  • If your listing contains the phrases “new price” or “price reduced” in the description
  • If markets are shifting either upwards or downwards (think Spring and Fall)
  • If the property is unique or an “oddball”

Benefits of a Listing Appraisal

  • Allows the agent (the marketing expert) to bring in an appraiser for a fresh set of unbiased eyes.
  • In other cases, the appraisal allows the agent to retain the relationship with their client while, the appraiser delivers the “bad news” that their home may be incorrectly priced.

Not all situations warrant an appraisal.  It’s a case-by-case kind of thing.  But I do know a couple of local agents who get appraisals as part of everyone of their listing appointments.  They tell me it puts the client at ease knowing that the agent is more focused on helping them price the property correctly than getting the listing.

Now the second part…Do I have to share the appraisal with potential buyers?  The answer to that is “no”.  You/your client own the appraisal.  It was completed for the sole purpose of helping you price the property (using it for anything like tax appeal, lending, divorce, estate, bankruptcy, etc would render it null and void).  There is no requirement that private appraisals be recorded or archived.  You are not required to disclose whether or not you had an appraisal to a potential buyer.

Hope that answers the question.

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

 

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Let’s End the Trend

For the past few years I’ve been noticing a trend in how homes, particularly new construction, are being marketed.  Perhaps you’ve noticed it, too.  What I’m referencing is the inclusion of finished basement space in the overall Gross Living Area (GLA) calculations. (I’ve even seen it where one agent included the roof deck in the overall GLA because the deck was covered)

I get it.  From a marketing perspective, bigger is better.  Everyone wants to be able to say that their home is larger.  I guess size does matter when discussing square footage.  The only problem is that this practice can be misleading and can contribute to inaccurate appraisals and failed deals.

Picture this.  There is a property in Point Breeze.  It’s new construction, three stories, finished basement, roof deck…the same house that everyone is building right now.  The agent and developer market the property as being 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths and 2,400SF of living space.  Now, 600SF of that space is entirely below grade in the basement and contains one of the bedrooms and a full bath.

Along comes the appraiser.  From the appraiser’s point of view the house is a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath house of 1,800SF above grade.  There is also a 600SF finished basement that contains a full bath and a room that could be used as a 4th bedroom.  The appraiser will assign contributory value to the finished basement and the rooms down there but, they will not be included it in the above grade GLA.  The reason being, most appraisers adhere to the ANSI Guidelines for measuring a dwelling.  These guidelines state that only above grade living space is to be included in the overall GLA for a property.  Anything below grade is finished basement space.  (For a copy of the ANSI Guideline, just email me)

This trend can effect the selection of comparables and by extension have an impact on the appraised value of a property.  If an appraiser inspects a property and determines it to have 1,800SF above grade and 600SF below grade, the appraiser is going to select comparables that are closer to 1,800SF, not the 2,400SF reported in the MLS listing.  This could result in the selection of comparables that are smaller and worth less money.  This could adversely impact the sale.

Also, imagine the confusion of the new homeowner when he reads the appraisal.  Here, he thought he just bought 2,400SF home but, the appraiser says it’s only 1,800SF.  In the buyer’s mind, they just overpaid.  There are likely to be some angry phone calls as a result.

But there’s hope!  The Trend MLS allows agents to separate the above grade from the below grade living space when listing a property.  This helps paint a more accurate representation of the living space within a building.  It also helps appraisers make more accurate comparisons to other homes.  I would love to see this become the new trend in Philadelphia real estate, where agents and appraisers are on the same page and above grade and below grade living spaces are separately reported.

NOTE:  If you ever have a question as to what the actually GLA is for a given property, have the house measured.  Many appraisers will perform this service as will a number of “measuring” companies.

The Coyle Group’s team of Philadelphia Real Estate Appraisers are a leading provider of appraisals for Estate/Probate, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Tax Appeal and Pre-Listing. If you need a guest speaker at your next sales meeting, please give us a call. We would welcome to opportunity to speak to your group and field any appraisal related questions you may have. For more information please visit our website at www.TheCoyleGroupLLC.com You can also contact The Coyle Group at 215-836-5500 or appraisals@coyleappraisals.com

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