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General News
NAR responds to administration proposal to reform Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac

Bucks County
Bensalem approves 106 more townhouses at Waterside community 

Chester County
Embreeville Redevelopment zoning hearing postponed 

Delaware County
SEPTA upgrades Secane station

Montgomery County
New Hanover Town Center project raising concern 

Philadelphia County
Center City developers benefit the most from city’s tax abatement 



Friday, July 26, 2019

What is an accurate property assessment?

Posted by: Pete Kennedy on Friday, July 26, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Ideally, homes are assessed at 100% of their market values. That’s what happens immediately after a countywide reassessment.

But assessment values become inaccurate over time as the real estate market changes. To keep new assessments in line with old ones, the PA Department of Revenue sets a Common Level Ratio factors for each county every July.  

For example, Montgomery County has 2019-2020 ratio factor of 2.03, meaning assessments should equal 49.3% of market value.  So, a home with a market value of $100,000 would be assessed at about $49,300, and that assessed value would be used to calculate local property tax bills.

Here’s the math behind that percentage:


Market Value



(Common Level Ratio factor)



Here are the Common Level Ratios and assessment value percentages for Greater Philadelphia counties:

Bucks County
Common Level Ratio factor = 10.64
Last assessment in 1972
Chester County
Common Level Ratio factor = 2.03
Last assessment in 1998
Delaware County*
Common Level Ratio factor = 1.77
Last assessment in 2000
Montgomery County
Common Level Ratio factor = 2.03
Last assessment in 1996
Philadelphia County
Common Level Ratio factor = 1.01
Ongoing assessments (AVI)

This recent Philadelphia Inquirer article provides more explanation on assessments and appeals in the Greater Philadelphia region.

 * Delaware County is currently conducting a countywide reassessment, the values of which will take effect in 2021. Learn more about that in our blog post:  Delco reassessment project: an overview.



Friday, June 28, 2019

A disturbing trend is emerging around U&O inspections

Posted by: Pete Kennedy on Friday, June 28, 2019 at 9:00:00 am Comments (1)

A trend is emerging among some municipal code inspectors in the Philadelphia suburbs — they're asking home buyers to sign away their rights. 

Per state law, buyers have at least 12 months to make repairs cited in a use-and-occupancy inspection. But Downingtown Borough, for example, has a “U&O Waiver Form” on its website in which buyers agree that, "I will make all repairs [within] 30 days of the closing of the sale.” These 30-day affidavits are popping up in municipalities across the region.

Considering the power these municipalities hold and what's at stake — a new home — buyers and agents may be inclined to sign the form to keep transactions on track.

But the bottom line is that these towns and boroughs cannot force the buyers to sign, and they cannot withhold a U&O certificate as leverage. The Alliance has been addressing these situations on a case-by-case basis while working toward setting a legal precedent that would force these municipalities to obey the spirit of the law, not just the letter.

If your clients are being asked to sign such an affidavit, please contact the Suburban Realtors® Alliance.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Bristol Twp sewer lateral inspections: What's been your experience?

Posted by: Pete Kennedy on Monday, April 22, 2019 at 9:00:00 am Comments (0)

 We are seeking input from BCAR members regarding the recently introduced sewer lateral inspection requirement in Bristol Township.

As our members may be aware, the SRA has met several times with Bristol Township staff and council members to ensure that the new inspection requirements are compliant with PA Act 133 of 2016. The act sets forth procedures that must be followed by municipalities that require property maintenance and other code inspections upon the sale of a residential property.

Please contact the SRA if any of the following apply:

  1. Your client is being denied a U&O permit or a temporary access permit. The municipality must provide one of these as long as a required code inspection has been completed.
  2. Your client is being asked to provide escrow toward repairs on the home prior to the sale, as a condition of receiving a temporary U&O permit.
  3. A municipal official tells you that Act 133 does not apply to them for any reason.

Realtors can reach the SRA via our online Contact Us form or by email: 



Monday, April 15, 2019

Delco reassessment project: an overview

Posted by: Pete Kennedy on Monday, April 15, 2019 at 2:00:00 pm Comments (0)

The reference sheet below answers a few questions about the Delaware County Reassessment Project, and provides links to other resources like a sample of the questionnaire property owners may receive in the mail.

Click the image below to view the PDF file.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Why is a Delco school district suing the state?

Posted by: Pete Kennedy on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

In 2014, William Penn School District in Delaware County joined with other districts, associations and parents to file William Penn School District et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Education et al. They argue that the state is failing in its constitutional duty to provide adequate public education and is discriminating against students based on geography.

In fact, Pennsylvania does have a reputation for unfair education funding. In 2015, a Washington Post analysis declared, “Pa. schools are the nation’s most inequitable.” In 2016, the General Assembly tried to address the problem by enacting a new Fair Funding Formula, which was designed to equitably distribute Basic Education Funding to all districts in the state by taking into account factors like the poverty level, number of non-English speakers and charter schools.

However, only money added since the Fair Funding Formula was put into place is distributed through it. In the 2018-2019 school year, that’s $539 million out of $6.1 billion — less than 9 percent.

What would happen if all of the $6.1 billion was put through the Fair Funding Formula?

William Penn would receive an additional $2.92 million dollars, about $530 more for each of its roughly 5,500 students, according to a 2018 report by the House Appropriations Committee.

In Delaware County, 12 of the 15 districts would receive more money. Upper Darby would receive an additional $16.2 million per year over its current state allocation of $38.6 million.   

In Chester County, 7 of the 12 districts would see a boost. Phoenixville Area School District would receive an additional $2.7 million per year over its current state allocation of $4.9 million.

In Bucks County, 6 out of 13 counties would receive more money. In the 2018-2019 school year, Bensalem Township School District would receive an additional $6.8 million per year over its current allocation of $12.8 million.

In Montgomery County, 18 out of 22 school districts would receive more money. In the 2018-2019 school year, Pottstown School District would receive an additional $13 million per year — more than doubling its current allocation of $11.5 million.

The corresponding losses would be felt by districts who are benefiting from a “hold-harmless” provision that allows them to maintain previous funding levels despite falling enrollment.

State funding is important for districts like those listed above, where a low tax base means raising tax rates wouldn’t yield much increased revenue. The lawsuit is expected to go to trial in 2020, and it could result in major changes in state education funding.

Read more about Pennsylvania public education funding at

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