Actual Value Initiative (AVI) Information

Posted on: September 9, 2013

WHAT IS AVI?

AVI is a program for the assessment of all real property—land and buildings—in Philadelphia, effective Tax Year 2014, at their current market value. Market value reflects the approximate amount a property would sell for in today’s real estate market. The purpose of AVI is to make sure that all values are assessed fairly and in compliance with state laws, statutes, and industry standards. It will ensure that properties of equal value get the same assessments.

HOW DOES THE CITY ESTABLISH A FAIR ASSESSED VALUE ON PROPERTIES?  To establish an assessed value for a property, the OPA (or the Office of Property Assessment) considers a number of factors, including:

  • Size and age of the property
  • A property’s location and condition
  • A property’s use (home or business)

To determine the characteristics of a property, the OPA uses information from field inspections for building size and condition, aerial photography, data from other City departments (such as permits and deeds), and commercial sources, like property listings.

For residential properties, the OPA analyzes recent sales of similar properties to set the value, making adjustments for differences in the characteristics between the homes that sold and your property.

For commercial and large multi-family properties, the OPA considers the income approach, market approach, and in some situations, cost approach, and utilize the approach that is most appropriate based upon property type and use. The income and costs of operating the property to determine its value, or considers the cost of construction and land.

ARE THERE ANY RELIEF OPTIONS FOR PROPERTY OWNERS?

Yes, there are a few forms that may help protect homeowners from the crippling effects of the tax hike:

1) Senior Tax Freeze (filing deadline January 31, 2014)- Your real estate taxes are “frozen” at the 2013 amount. To be eligible, you must be low income (less than $23, 500 in annual income if single; $31,500 if married) and over 65 (or be a widow/widower over 50 whose deceased spouse was over 65).

2) Homestead Exemptions (filing deadline September 13, 2013)- $30,000 is deducted from the assessment from owner-occupied residences. Applications were sent to all homeowners late 2012. You can check to see if you have applied by visiting:

http://avicalculator.phila.gov

Type in your address and under Property Information, verify that “YES” is under Homestead. If “NO” then complete attached form.

3) BRT Appeal (filing deadline October 7, 2013)- If you believe that the assessment is truly inaccurate as determined by the OPA (office of Property Assessment) you can appeal to the Board of Revision of Taxes. While on appeal, you will pay your real estate taxes at the 2013 rate with no interest and penalty accruing until the BRT rules on your case.

All Three Forms Can Be Found HERE

WHAT IS THE GENTRIFICATION RELIEF BILL AND DOES IT PERTAIN TO ME? 

The bill, which PDQ has dubbed “Gentrification Protection,” would cap and freeze assessments for 10 years for longtime owner-occupants whose assessments have risen more than 300 percent under the Actual Value Initiative and whose income falls under a certain threshold – specifically, 150 percent of the Area Median Household Income as defined by Census Bureau figures. For a four-person household, that figure is currently $118,750, so the cap would take in the great majority of homeowners in Philadelphia.

The bill defines “longtime owner-occupant” as anyone who has owned a home and used it as his or her principal residence for at least 10 years (five years if the owner acquired the property with help from a government or nonprofit housing program).

There is an important catch: The property must be current on its tax payments, or the owner must be making installment payments or in a payment agreement.

Those who qualify will have their assessments frozen at 300 percent of the property’s former assessed value for 10 years or until the house is sold or transferred to a relative, whichever comes first.

(Sources: PHILA.gov, GPAR.org, Philadelphia Real Estate Blog)