When buying or selling property or when paying property taxes, you want to make sure your property is assessed at the right value. However, there are a variety of factors that weigh into property assessments in Allegheny County, all creating a complex matrix of what to expect in a property assessment. Additionally, it’s important to know from where your property assessment value is derived. The property assessment experts at Flaherty and Fardo LLC are here to break it down for you and review property assessments so you can be assessed at the value you deserve.

Three Approaches to Property Assessment

The complex matrix of property assessment in Allegheny County

allegheny county assessment house

When valuing property, three approaches must be considered in conjunction with one another:

  1. Cost (reproduction or replacement, as applicable, less depreciation and all forms of obsolescence)
  2. Comparable Sales
  3. Income Approaches

Although all three approaches must be considered, they do not all have to be used in arriving at the final valuation of the property. The approach used may differ depending upon the type of property involved (e.g., commercial, residential, income-producing). Many factors are considered in arriving at the fair market value of property. One very important consideration is the highest and best use of the property in question. It is not only the present use of a property that affects its value, but all of the uses including the highest and most profitable use to which the property could be used.

Establishing Actual Value in Allegheny County

Differentiating from market value in Allegheny County Property Assessments

allegheny property assessment calculations

Pennsylvania assessment laws require that real estate be valued according to its “actual value” and at a bona fide rate and price for which the property would separately sell. The courts have interpreted ‘actual value’ to mean ‘market value.’ Market value has been defined by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court as:

the price in which a competitive market a purchaser, willing but not obligated to buy, would pay an owner, willing but not obligated to sell, taking into consideration all the legal uses to which the property can be adapted and might reasonably be applied.

To establish the “actual” value of property, the county may use current year market values or it may adopt a base year for market values. For the most part, properties are assessed at a set percentage of base year values. Property is only assessed at current market value when a county wide reassessment has been conducted and implemented. Unless a county reassesses all properties every year, the property assessments will be predicated upon base year values (the last year in which the county reassessed). The same methodology must be used to value property throughout the county; that is, when a county adopts a base year for market value, then all property in the county must be valued as of the same base year. The assessment laws state that:

The price at which any property may actually have been sold in the base year or the

current tax year is to be considered but is not controlling. Such selling prices can be

increased or decreased as part of the valuation process to accomplish equalization

with other similar property within the taxing district.

Recent sales of comparable properties, that is, properties of a similar nature, are persuasive but not conclusive in helping to establish the market value. The properties selected need not be identical. The sales prices, however, are useful in showing relative values by bringing out characteristic qualities, whether similar or divergent. Comparison based on sales may be made according to location, age, income, expense, use, size, type of construction and in numerous other ways.

Property assessment in Allegheny County can be a complex process, and as a property owner - or someone looking to purchase property - you want to be sure to properly assess property value. Get in contact with Pittsburgh’s most trusted property assessment experts - Flaherty and Fardo - and get started with your property assessment in Allegheny County today.