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Delaware County is reassessing all 200,000 residential and commercial properties within its borders.
The county is working to determine the market value of each property, which will be used to calculate real estate taxes starting in 2021.
Update: Official assessment notices will be mailed July 1, 2020. Property owners have until Sept. 1 to file an appeal . Read more here on the county project website.
Why is the comprehensive reassessment happening?
The countywide reassessment is the result of a court order.
Two families who purchased homes in Rose Valley Borough and Haverford Township in 2014 found their tax assessments to be too high. They challenged the county’s assessment process in court, and won.
The judge who heard their petitions — Judge Charles B. Burr of the Delaware County Common Pleas Court — determined that property assessments in the county were so inconsistent that they violated the state constitution.
In 2017, the judge ordered the county to reassess all properties within its borders.
The goal of the reassessment is to determine accurate values of all properties in the county, so that owners are paying a fair amount of property tax and the tax burden is distributed equitably across all taxpayers.
What is the reassessment timeline?
February - March 2020: New 'tentative assessment' notices mailed out
On Feb. 14, the county began sending out notices of new tentative property assessment values to property owners. The notices will go out in four batches. To find out when each municipality is scheduled to receive notices, view the mailing schedule.
Owners who feel their new assessments are too high — meaning they could not sell their property at that price — can request an informal review meeting via the Tyler Technologies website, but they must do so within 10 days of the date on the notice. Otherwise, they can go through the formal hearing process.
March 2 - May 15, 2020: Informal review hearings
During informal reviews, property owners meet with representatives from Tyler Technologies. Property owners should bring any documentation, including comps and photos, to support their claim that their assessment is too high.
July 2020: New assessments mailed
The county will mail out new assessed values to property owners, reflecting any updates from the informal hearings.
July - October 2020: Formal appeals period
The county Tax Assessment Appeals Board will hold formal assessment appeal hearings with property owners whose disputes were not resolved in the informal hearings.
Due to an expected high number of appeals, the county is looking for residents to serve as Auxiliary Tax Assessment Appeals Board Members. Applicants must live in Delaware County and cannot be an active property assessor. Selected applicants will receive a six-hour training and be paid $200 a day. For more information, read the county press release (PDF).
Jan 2021: New assessments take effect
New assessment values become effective for tax year 2021.
Other important points to know about the reassessment:
Click a bullet point below to expand.
The county will not be able to collect more revenue based on the assessment.
The same is true for other local taxing entities, i.e. the municipality and school district.
Tax rates are likely to change when the assessment is complete, in some cases substantially. Here's why:
According to an analysis by the Philadelphia Inquirer, about one-third of homeowners will see their assessments rise, one-third will see their assessments decrease, and the remaining one-third won’t see a significant change. But here’s the catch — according to that analysis, the over- and underassessed homes tend to be clustered. The bulk of property taxes are levied by the school district, so if nearly all the homes in a district receive lower assessments but the district needs to collect roughly the same revenue as the previous year, the tax millage rate will simply increase.
Put simply — if your assessment goes up, but all your neighbors' assessments do, too, the tax millage rate will be lowered, because the assessment must be revenue neutral overall.
There will certainly be many homeowners who see significant changes in their tax bills, but it’s important that homeowners and Realtors® exercise caution before making assumptions about how the countywide reassessment could impact tax bills.
Delaware County is currently seeking qualified professionals to preside over the formal tax reassessment hearings to be held the summer and fall of 2020. Selected applicants will be appointed to an Auxiliary Tax Assessment Appeals Board.
The hearings will begin in July 2020 and continue for approximately eight to 10 weeks. Applicants must live in Delaware County and cannot be active property assessors. Selected applicants will receive a six-hour training prior to hearings.
Auxiliary Tax Assessment Appeals Board members will be paid $200 a day for days they preside over hearings. Application details can be found here.
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 factor for each county every July.
In 2020, a property assessment in Delaware County was supposed to equal about 56.5% of the market value.
Read more in this SRA blog post: What is an accurate property assessment?
According to Suburban West Realtors® Association:
Paragraph 17 of the Agreement of Sale, “Real Estate Taxes and Assessed Value,” provides notice to buyers about the possibility and effect of re-assessment or appeal of current assessment. Buyer agents should use the opportunity presented by this paragraph to alert potential buyers about any known re-assessment prior to the buyer executing the agreement of sale.
Article 2 of the Code of Ethics requires Realtors® to avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation or concealment of pertinent facts about the property or the transaction. If the buyer has questions or concerns, the buyer agent can direct the client to available resources.
Read more on the Suburban West website: Agreement of Sale and Assessed Value (PDF).
The county has said it will be very strict regarding the 10-day deadline.
However, you will still be able to file a formal appeal with the Board of Assessment Appeals. According to the Assessment Appeal FAQ on the county website, there are three ways to request an appeal form:
Annual Appeal forms are available from March 15th to August 1st
Calling the Assessment Office at (610) 891-4879
Visiting the office 201 West Front Street, Media, Pa. 19063.
Downloading the form by clicking on the appropriate link
One-page flyer and other resources:
SRA: View a one-page overview flyer (PDF).
SRA: What is an accurate property assessment?
SWRA: Information about the Agreement of Sale and Assessed Value (PDF) from Suburban West Realtors® Association.
Delaware County: Visit the Delaware County Reassessment Project website.
Still have questions about the reassessment?
Contact the Delaware County Tax Assessment office (610-891-4879) or the county's consultant on the reassessment project, Tyler Technologies: (610-891-5695).
|The information on this page is provided as a general summary of the reassessment project. It is not intended to take the place of written law, county or municipal regulations, or information that can be obtained directly from the county or its affiliates.|