Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Reassessment 2012: Give Me Land Lots of Land — well, not so much.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | December 31, 2011

No. 779

We’re hearing that the assessors have been increasing the land value in the City on some properties much more than the value of improvements. I saw one today where the building value of a four unit apartment building went down a significant amount but was more than offset by an enormous increase in the land portion of the valuation.

Although assessors have been splitting value between land and buildings forever, one has to wonder how they arrive at the split in value. There are not too many sales of vacant lots, especially in a city that doesn’t see that much new construction.  Moreover, comparable property sales never have the value split between land and buildings.

Extra land can enhance value, but you have to be careful about jumping to conclusions in a place like Pittsburgh.  Terrain can make land that looks great on the assessment map worthless or nearly so.  Side yard lots that are too small to build a house or even a garage are frequently little more than grass to cut.

However, chances are that we will never know where they derived the land value. There won’t be anyone at your assessment hearing to answer the question.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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