How much is your house really worth?
Your house may not be worth as much as you think. The average price of houses sold in one University Heights neighborhood suggests a disturbing downward trend. Over the past three years, the average price fell from $181,850 in 2009 to $153,010 in 2011.
Homeowners received a 2012 Proposed Value Notice from the Cuyahoga County Fiscal Office showing their home's new value. The county believes this is the market value someone will pay if you put your house on the market today. If you think it is too high, you have until Sept. 15 to appeal.
Let’s walk through an example using one small street, Tyndall Road. There are about 24 homes on Tyndall Road. The county assigns an NGH (neighborhood number) to each cluster of similar adjoining streets. Tyndall Road is in NGH 12307. Assume a 1941 house has about 2,000 square feet of living space.
We go to Property Information at Desk 304 on the third floor of the County Administration Office and request a printout of the Comparable Sales Report (CSR) for this NGH for houses sold between 2009–11, with about 2,000 square feet of living space. It is a free service.
The printout is available within minutes. In three years, only 34 houses sold in NGH 12307 with a living area of 1,900–2,300 sq. ft. The average price (three years combined) for houses sold is $165,947.
Only 12 houses sold in 2009. The average sales price was $181,850. In 2010, another 12 houses sold, but the average price fell to $160,800. Not good. The bad news is that even fewer homes, only 10, sold in 2011. The very bad news is that the average price for these 10 plummeted to $153,010 in 2011.
The concern here is that the trend is down, down, down. For our example, the average sale fell by almost 16 percent in three years.
You can do this evaluation yourself, using free county data for your NGH to see if it agrees with the new value assigned to your property.
Of the 34 homes sold, the oldest was built in 1916 and the newest in 1956. Did the county adjust for age of construction when calculating the new value?
Fewer houses are selling, and at lower prices. Only those in the best condition, with the newest amenities, move at a price that does not break the heart, or the bank account, of the seller.
Does your house need a new driveway, energy-efficient windows, updates for that pink and green bathroom tile or waterproofing the basement? Any number of old, tired or damaged conditions will delay, if not prevent, the sale of your property, regardless of how much you lower the price below your new value from the county.
UH taxes are high, second only to Shaker Heights—and the residents of that city just voted to raise their taxes. If our mayor’s plan to merge the UH fire department with Shaker’s takes place, will we have to match their higher taxes to cover the merger? Then there was mention of a new bond issue for UH taxpayers to help pay for transformation of the Fuchs Mizrachi School property the mayor and council purchased earlier this year.
We don’t know the future of all our taxes, but with the assistance of Desk 304, you can at least examine the last three years of sales in your NGH.
Anita Kazarian is a marketing professional, president of Noah’s Landing, LLC and a 30-year resident of University Heights. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.