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: Watch out for the Flipper.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | January 28, 2012

No. 802

Flippers haven’t been much in evidence lately, but keep an eye out for their handiwork, because they can play havoc with assessment values.

A few years ago, they bought a house in your neighborhood and spent a lot of time and money improving it.  Then they sold it for a much higher price.

I think flippers can be a great factor for injecting value into a neighborhood.  But the problem is that, after they are finished putting plenty of money and labor into a house, they put it on the market for a substantial increase in price.  Then the assessors are likely to call it a comp for your house.  Truth was, the property when they bought it a few years ago might have been more comparable.   So, what to do?

If the County is showing a property as a comp that is too high, check the building permits.  They are public record.  Unfortunately, a lot of people lie about how much they intend to spend, but you will get a chance to find out what they did to the property.  New bathroom, new kitchen, new roof, new furnace — sometimes it can be like building a new house.  By the same token, some sellers do work before selling their houses. The clue to that may be found in the listing.

Yes, it may take a little time to get the information.  But it could be worth it to knock out a high comp.


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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