Mar 25, 2024 - News

What to know about new property assessments in Philadelphia

Illustration of a repeating pattern of houses made out of hundred dollar bills.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New property assessments for the bulk of Philadelphia homeowners are coming after a yearlong hiatus.

Why it matters: Property owners could be in store for bigger tax bills, despite Mayor Cherelle Parker proposing no property tax hike.

State of play: The city's Office of Property Assessment (OPA) will issue new citywide property assessments later this spring.

  • Property owners typically receive them in April or May.

The intrigue: Parker spokesperson Joe Grace declined to comment, including about how much property values have changed since the city issued reassessments in 2022.

  • "The administration and the chief assessor will comment later during the budget process," he said.

Yes, but: The value of residential properties is expected to rise 8% this coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, per the mayor's five-year plan.

Flashback: The OPA skipped new reassessments last year as the office worked through a sharp rise in appeals from the previous tax year.

Between the lines: Conducting yearly property assessments ensures the city and school district don't lose out on one-time tax revenues based on annual increases in property values.

  • The city typically conducts yearly property assessments for specific properties, like new construction.

The big picture: Housing prices in Philly have remained flat since early 2022.

  • The median home sales price in the city was $250,000 in February, up a smidge from $249,990 during the same month in 2022, according to listing service Bright MLS.
  • Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist for Bright MLS, tells Axios that new rentals and rising interest rates last year contributed to keeping down sale prices.

What they're saying: "Owners should expect that their assessment is more accurate and reflects the changes that have occurred in the real estate market since" the last reassessments, per Parker's five-year plan.

The other side: Skipping annual reassessments can lead to unpredictable spikes in property taxes and inequitable valuations, Brett Mandel, a former assistant city controller, tells Axios.

  • "The problem has been less the methodology and more the problem of policymakers saying, 'We're not going to reassess this year,'" he says.

What to watch: Parker will work with legislators on tax relief and reforms per the five-year plan if newly assessed values come in higher than expected.

Plus: City officials are forming a new commission to recommend tax reform.


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