Thursday, February 27, 2020
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Whann: Client paid $219,000 in 2008, sells for $172,500; cites high GF taxes

Dear Editor,

Last week, I received a call from a Glens Falls resident who had kept my information from a letter I wrote to The Chronicle on November 27, 2018, about my neighbor who lived at 10 John Street and was reassessed $77,000 higher over a three-year period — once for $17,000 and then last year for $60,000.

The City had raised his assessment to $225,000, which doubled his taxes so he could no longer afford to live in his house that he bought in 2008 for $219,000.

We finally sold his house a few weeks ago and it closed for $172,500.

He received $170,500 since he gave $2,000 to the new buyer to help with the high taxes until she can grieve in May. There is no guarantee the new owner will have them lowered but at least the new owner has an argument.

This home was shown by other agents 19 times and I did 12 open houses. The feedback was “great house but I cannot afford the taxes,” when other homes they were looking at in Glens Falls at the same price had taxes listed at $2,800, $3,200 and $4,000, when ours were $6,800 down from $9,800 after we took Glens Falls to small claims court.

Those homes with the lower taxes were assessed at a much lower full market assessment compared to what they were asking for the home.

When I asked the caller how I could help her, she told me that they bought a home that has a high property assessment compared to the purchase price. They knew when they bought it that the assessment was much higher than the actual price they paid. They wanted to know how to tackle the process of working through the assessment review. I shared what we did at 10 John Street and offered to help.

Watching my previous client go through the review process where the Board of Assessment Review just rubber-stamped what the assessor had done was disturbing, and going through the actual small claims court process was also discouraging since we were still over $40,000 difference with the sold price.

After my first letter came out, I had folks comment to me how they feared reassessment, since their full market tax assessment was so much less than what their home was worth. They know they have had the advantage of lower taxes for years.

I would respond back to them that I understand their fear. We live in New York and feel everywhere we turn the tax man has their hand out. There is a reason folks are leaving our state for lower taxed states. I would also say to them, is it fair that one neighbor pays more than everyone else? Do we want to continue to live in a place where folks are afraid to fix up their home from the outside because they are afraid their taxes will go up?

When I take my dog for a walk, I see homes virtually falling down and I wonder if those owners are afraid to improve their home because of taxes.

As I read Gordon Woodworth’s article last week about the fear of not-for-profits locating in Glens Falls since they do not pay taxes, I was actually disturbed by some of the comments of our city leaders.

I will continue to speak out that Glens Falls needs to bite the bullet and do a comprehensive revalue of all properties in Glens Falls. That would include commercial, residential, multi-family and not for profits. I am sure we can work together to create an equitable citywide assessment.

If the city leaders continue to kick the can down the road I will continue to help folks one on one and continue to warn them that if they buy a home here that they too can be surprised by the assessor’s office.

— Patti Gray Whann, Glens Falls
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