The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a real estate boom in much of America. The Plattsburgh Common Council received some signs Thursday evening that the Lake City is experiencing it, too.
The city sent out its final property tax roll for the year last week. Many homeowners’ property tax bills have gone up from last year by 15% or more.
According to city assessor Tim Surpitski, most houses in Plattsburgh that go on the market are now selling in less than ten days. He calls that turnaround time unprecedented for the community. Not only are they selling more quickly — they’re also fetching more money.
“When I ran the numbers for the average sale price three years ago in the City of Plattsburgh, it was $145,000,” Surpitski said. “This year, it’s up to $180,000.”
While it’s encouraging that people are willing to invest in Plattsburgh, rising home prices lead to rising property tax bills. Surpitski said quite a few people in the Town of Plattsburgh were startled by their bills this year, and Mayor Chris Rosenquest pointed out another nearby community where it also recently happened.
“We saw that last year during the pandemic in — Peru, was it? — so we saw that massive 20-something-percent increase in property tax because of their equalization rate,” the mayor said.
Anytime a home in Plattsburgh sells for more than 5% above, or below, the value at which it’s listed on the city’s books, Surpitski’s office is required to re-assess that home. It then has to assign a *new value, to help make sure all homeowners pay their share of property taxes.
However, the city can compensate for higher home values somewhat — by lowering the tax rate that people pay.
“Every time that your office comes up with an increase, we try to match it with a tax decrease, and that’s worked out very well,” Councilor Mike Kelly said to Surpitski. “And I think we see the effects of that. I think we see our property values — our assessed values — going up.”
Any homes in the Lake City that haven’t been re-assessed this year are likely to have it happen next year. Surpitski chalked that up to how quickly real estate prices are rising.
He also noted that it’s been nearly a decade since Plattsburgh’s commercial properties were re-assessed.
There were plans to do it last year, but then the pandemic hit. Surpitski now he says he hopes to do it next year.