The Philadelphia Real Estate Blog


Your AVI (Actual Value Initiative) Handbook / Playbook

Your AVI (Actual Value Initiative) Handbook / Playbook

We all know that it is looming, that dark unknown cloud coming to your neighborhood - the AVI - where real estate taxes Your AVI Handbookwill soar to help fund the ailing Philadelphia School District and the hapless City Council folks who cannot think of any other way to fund the City's budget woes and bankrupt City. I have created a handbook or in the spirit of football season, I have created a Playbook, if you will, of how this game will be played out.

Before I begin, let's all try to get to our happy place.  Take several deep breaths. You are going to need some tools: a yoga mat, a hot cup of tea, Jack Daniels, and a valium. Oh, and keep your handbook (and your checkbook) ready for the months ahead.  One last thing. Have your go-to attorney ready on speed dial because alttorneys will be busy with lots of appeals.

So what is going to happen ?

1.  In December of this year, property owners will get their tax bill for 2013.  Don't get too worked up. You can relax as this bill will be based on pre-AVI assessments. (Deep breath in. Deep breath out. It's a good time to grab your yoga meditation mat.)

2.  Around that same time, you will get a notice of your new "AVI" assessment.  This is the basis for calculating your 2014 bill, which will arrive later in the year.   This is the time where you can call your Realtor and ask "Is this accurate?".  If not, call your "go-to" attorney which you already have since you read this playbook and begin your appeal process immediately.  Have your attorney on speed dial as he or she will be flooded with calls. (Better boil the hot water for that calming cup of tea now.)

3.  Now that you've done the Yoga, sipped your tea, head for the bar for that shot of JD. While you are there, call your doctor for that prescription as you wait for City Council to finalize the tax policy as they will set the milage rate (tax rate) and they are not going to be fast about it.   Once that rate is set you can actually determine your tax bill for 2014.

4.  And most importantly, while you wait patiently on your bar stool, set up a bank account and put money aside so you can budget this increase.  This will help ease the pain.  Perhaps cutting back on your own excesses - such as the dreaded soft drinks, basic food and water and the like, will be a good idea so we can all pay for the sins of Philadelphia, such as Carl Greene and Arlene Ackerman. 

If you are still sober at this time, we can watch how this brilliant plan will effect the real estate market, rents of tenants and the local economy.  And pray as several unintended consequences such as property values depreciating, rents escalating and local neighborhood commercial districts suffering in order to fund the budget woes of the City of Philadelphia occur.   More properties will go into foreclosure and there will be more tax sales when and if the City ever gets around to collecting the taxes due.   And of course, new construction and the hated tax abatements will be even that much more in demand versus the row home across the street whose taxes were just hiked 5X.  Brilliance at its best!   Remember it is important to not ask Council Members to "DROP DROP" as that is far too important for them to keep with our taxpayer money as they are doing such a great job.

Lastly, we can hope and pray that the City will act more fiscally responsible and that our services will increase and be more efficient after our taxes are hiked.  For many, their taxes will be hiked 5X so maybe their services will increase 5X as well?  We can only hope so.  If not, maybe we can all plan for another AVI in 2016 and do it all over again?

In the meantime, brace yourself, do your yoga and deep breaths in order to prepare, especially if you live in Northern Liberties, Fishtown, Old Kensington, South Kensington, Fairmount, Art Museum, Chinatown, Loft District, Queen Village, Old City, Center City, Rittenhouse Square, Fitler Square, Graduate Hospital, Point Breeze (this area might be protected), South Philly, Passyunk Square and Pennsport or any area that "gentrified".  I am sure I am missing a few spots but heck, we have been told it only affects a few areas by our City leaders. 


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Comment balloon 18 commentsThe Somers Team • September 29 2012 01:45PM


Stephanie and Christopher, this is a well written post.  I love your cleverly described warning of higher taxes to come.  Philadelphia is one of my favorite cities.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) over 6 years ago

Thanks Sharon for the compliment.   I wish this the City of Philadelphia had better ways to meet their failings.  I agree that the tax system needs to be updated but many homeowners will have payment shock along the way.

Posted by The Somers Team, Real People. Real Dreams. Real Estate. (The Somers Team at RE/MAX Access) over 6 years ago

Thanks for the post. I will bookmark this and share with others. It should be featured Suggested.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 6 years ago

Thanks Gita !  Every City faces the issue in regards to hiking property taxes in order to pay for a City's shortfalls of revenue. 

Posted by The Somers Team, Real People. Real Dreams. Real Estate. (The Somers Team at RE/MAX Access) over 6 years ago

An increase in any real estate taxes is not a good thing.  Let's hope that they do make good use of the money and that there aren't too many drunken Philadelphia homeowners on the loose :)  Great post.

Posted by Jane Peters, Los Angeles real estate concierge services (Home Jane Realty) over 6 years ago

Christopher, it seems many towns feel that increasing Real Estate Taxes is way to support the towns!

My taxes are almost doubled in about 10 years!

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 6 years ago

Christopher and Stephanie, homeowners offer a guaranteed income for the local officials and will take the brunt of the increases. They're a captive audience. As we all know in this business, "the tax man always get paid first."

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 6 years ago

I like your playbook.  I don't like the idea of higher taxes or the local government putting a lot of the shortfall burden on homeowners.  Like so many others, cities and counties and FEDERAL GOVERMENTS need to learn to live within their means. 

Posted by Tom Esposito (Alpharetta Home Solutions) over 6 years ago
Wow, shocking and depressing. I fear that many cities have put themselves in jeopardy with outrageous retirement plans for past employees who are living longer and longer than when these plans were first dreamed up.
Posted by Karen Crowson, Your Agent for Change (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 6 years ago

None of us like raised taxes.

Our city just raised us 4%, but it is hard to complain after not having a local increase for the last 12 years. Unfortunately the county, school board or water districts raise our taxes annually, so it really doesn't matter what our city does - THERE WILL BE AN ANNUAL INCREASE FROM SOMEONE!  Joy

Posted by Joy Carter & Jeff Booker Brother and Sister Team, Trust Your Family's Move To Our Expertise! (Keller Williams Parkland/Coral Springs Realty-GreatFloridaHomes Team) over 6 years ago
Hi Christopher and Stephanie, great post. Florida has used AVI for several years.
Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) over 6 years ago

Philly sounds like dying and going to heaven compared to California.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) over 6 years ago

We get our bills in November with a stepped discount until April. So, anyone who can pays their bill early to save.  Fortunately also, Jacksonville Beach didn't raise the millage rate, either. Yay!

Posted by Nan Jester, Realtor, Exit Real Estate Gallery (Exit Real Estate Gallery Jacksonville Beach, FL ) over 6 years ago

Good way to inform the people of Philadelphia about something bad, with a dose of humor and some chuckles - Super Post! 

Posted by Debbie Cook, Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc) over 6 years ago

Stephanie  I think you cover all the steps completely. I have no questions except is there any more Jack Daniels?

Posted by Chuck Mixon, Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR (The Keyes Company) over 6 years ago

These are great steps you've put together for us Stephanie. Glad you did it!

Posted by Adam Brett, The Adam and Eric Group, Fullerton's Finest (The Adam and Eric Group) over 6 years ago

Christopher & Stephanie - Great advice.  Glad I don't live in the Philadelphia area.  Taxes are high enough up here in my little slice of central PA!

Posted by Brad Baylor (ERA Coup Agency) over 6 years ago

You do such a great job of blogging. Thanks for sharing your Actual Value Initiative.

If you don't mind. ...I am going to share it. It is a great handbook or Playbook..

Posted by Ginger Harper, Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County! (Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage) over 6 years ago