Home Buying in Pittsburgh>Question Details

Jeff, Both Buyer and Seller in Florham Park, NJ

How to handle this high tax?

Asked by Jeff, Florham Park, NJ Mon Jan 19, 2009

I am looking at a house with a listing price which is a lot lower than the townsassessed market value (and previous selling price). The tax is listed at the higher assessment but the new price is about 50k lower than that. Is there anyway I can argue that I bought this house for the listing price not the market value, so I can pay more reasonable tax . Also, can I pay tax in advance rather than roll in my monthly payment. Thank you,

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The tax is always based on the current assessment, unfortunately -- though the transfer tax will be calculated based on the actual purchase price.

The good news is you can appeal your assessment. The deadline is March 31st, so if you haven't bought the house yet it's getting a little tight. If you miss it, you have to wait until the next year. Here's the site for reference (assuming you're in Allegheny county): http://www.county.allegheny.pa.us/opa/appeals.aspx.
It is all a bit complicated now, since assessments are supposed to be pegged to 2002, but this is in dispute. Everyone loves that system when property values are rising, but not so much in a down market.

You do not have to roll the taxes into the mortgage (called "escrowing"), but they will do it by default unless you say you don't want it. When you close on the property, you will owe taxes from just after closing to the end of the year. With no escrow, the pro-rated taxes will just be part of your closing costs.

Note that there are lots of different taxes -- school, local, & county. Sometimes school taxes are offset (e.g., due in August). The title company can explain how all this will play out in your case. Good luck!
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 19, 2009
There is usually a period of time every year when the tax rates are set and the appraisals are completed that you can appeal your specific taxes. Call the tax appraiser's office to find out when this is. However, the tax appraiser will not automatically reduce the tax to reflect what you paid for the property. You may have been fortunate to acquire the property at an unusual bargain price. The tax appraisal will move downward but probably not as much as you would like because the property you bought must be equitable with other comparable properties when setting the taxes fairly. Hope this helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 19, 2009
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