Rochesterians know all too well that living in the Flower City comes with its caveats. While the city offers a plethora of cultural events, a rich history, and an exploding food scene, the harsh winters can sometimes make some forget why they live here in the first place. When you’re scraping ice off your car or shoveling snow in the driveway — whether it’s six inches of wet snow or 38 inches of dry snow, it’s all the same — you might curse your decision to settle down in the ROC. But you may change your tune when you hear about just how valuable your home might be.
Despite the fact that 85% of the nation’s homes were built prior to 1980 (and many of the houses in the city center are older than that), it looks as if age isn’t negatively impacting Rochester’s housing market. In fact, many homeowners just received notice that their property assessments are on the rise. In a citywide assessment, it was revealed that property values in the city increased by 19.3% on average, jumping from $76,145 to $90,864. The biggest increases were seen in the South Wedge and Upper Falls neighborhoods, which showed respective jumps of 37% and 34%. Overall, 84% of residential property owners saw increases in their assessments, though only about one-fourth of commercial property owners experienced any kind of assessment increase.
“Rochester is home to one of the hottest real estate markets in the nation,” explained Justin Roj with the City of Rochester in a statement. “Home assessments are up in every single neighborhood in the city. Every single one.”
This is potentially good news for homeowners looking to sell in the near future. But it could also have a negative impact on property taxes for those who choose to stay put. Assessments will apply to the 2021 fiscal year, which starts in July. And since one-third of Rochesterians live in poverty, higher taxes and less-affordable housing could actually have negative effects on property ownership overall. It’s entirely possible that many Rochesterians will have to continue renting if they want to remain in the city — and perhaps rent a professional storage unit to secure valuables and belongings they can’t store on-site — rather than buying property they can’t afford. Alternatively, it could push some residents to look for homes outside the city itself; while suburban living remains a popular option, many Rochester residents don’t want to give up convenient walkability and other perks.
Of course, it’s not a sure thing that all homeowners will see a tax increase. That’s determined by the tax rate and levy, which won’t be set until next summer. Should city spending remain constant or if the tax rate is reduced, property taxes might end up going down (depending on the specific assessment increase).
Still, many homeowners and community leaders aren’t thrilled by the news. Bryce Miller of the North Winton Village Association expressed his concerns to RochesterFirst.com, saying that he’s worried about the most vulnerable people in the neighborhood.
“There are people here who have such a strict budget, they have nowhere they can cut,” said Miller. He’d like to see some kind of assessment cap put in place and suggested that homeowners can meet with a city appraiser to set up another assessment in an effort to contest the increases.
And while Realtor.com recently ranked Rochester as the sixth-hottest housing market nationwide, other residents are apprehensive about whether the assessments actually reflect true property values — and what the increase could mean for the escalating number of rental properties in the area. In many cases, it means that landlords and rental property owners are making major money while many homeowners could end up being priced out.
For now, city residents may have to adopt a wait-and-see approach. Alternatively, they can prepare for what’s known as “Grievance Day” — the designated date to contest housing assessments. In Rochester, that occurs on March 17, 2020. In order to contest an assessment, homeowners have to present evidence to Rochester’s Board of Assessment Review and offer sound reasoning for a lowered assessment. But if arguing your case isn’t an option, you may simply have to see what happens when the tax rates are determined later this year and hope for the best.
Tags: home assessment, real-estate, Rochester neighborhoods
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