Judith L. Striewig has been a resident of South Central Pennsylvania her entire life. Commercial real estate appraising is a second career path for Ms. Striewig. After college, she worked for several years in the field of technology as a computer programmer, data analyst, project manager, and business design analyst. In 2004 an opportunity to apprentice in the residential appraisal arena presented itself, until 2008 when she made a move to appraise commercial real estate. She earned her general certification in 2011 and earned an MAI designation with the Appraisal Institute in January 2018. Ms. Striewig has two children, enjoys being active, and loves traveling and seeing different parts of the world.
M. Shane Rorke has lived in South Central Pennsylvania his entire life. He entered into the commercial real estate appraisal field in 1996 and has been appraising commercial real estate ever since. Mr. Rorke earned his general certification in 2001. With his wealth of experience Mr. Rorke has appraised most all types of commercial real estate. In recent years he has focused on land subdivision appraisal work and has tracked many Central Pennsylvania markets for in-depth absorption analysis.
Jody M. Ritrievi has lived in Central Pennsylvania most of her life. Ms. Ritrievi was a professional ballerina before completing her paralegal degree in 1998. She worked for an attorney in downtown Harrisburg, before choosing to stay home with her three children. Ms. Ritrievi has been a Notary Public for 4 years and has worked as a research analyst for Ms. Striewig since 2012, learning from her experience and knowledge of the commercial appraisal business.
Alec V. Werner was born and raised in the South Central Pennsylvania area. In May of 2017 he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from West Chester University. Before graduating from college, Alec served as an intern with the accounting and finance department at Select Medical Corp in 2015, and also as an intern at JSR Appraisal Group in 2016. After graduating from college, JSR hired Alec as a licensed appraiser trainee before earning his general certification in 2020. Alec has gained great experience over the years appraising many different property types.
Brendan Wewer grew up in South Central Pennsylvania and graduated from Mechanicsburg Area Senior High in 2016. In May of 2020, Brendan earned his Bachelors of Science degree in Risk Management and Insurance from the Fox School of Business at Temple University. While in school, Brendan worked as a leasing agent and property management specialist for Philadelphia‐based real estate developers. In the spring of 2020, Brendan interned at Commonwealth Commercial Appraisal Group as a commercial real estate analyst and decided to pursue a career path in commercial appraising. JSR hired Brendan as a licensed appraiser trainee in July of 2020, where he is currently working toward his general certification.
Real property taxes are a significant source of income for local authorities. Generally there are three main taxes levied on real property in Pennsylvania:
Several municipalities have other real property taxes including library, fire services, and several other community amenities that may be in addition to or built into the taxes above.
Pennsylvania assessment laws require that real estate be valued according to its "actual value" and at a bona fide rate and price for which the property would separately sell, which is interpreted as market value. Therefore properties are assigned an assessment value.
The assessed value and the appropriate millage rate is used to calculate real estate taxes. Millage rates are the amount per $1,000 that is used to calculate taxes on property. County millage rates are the same for all municipalities in the county, while the municipal and school taxes vary by municipality and school district. The assessed value is multiplied by the millage rate to calculate the tax expense for a property.
In most counties taxes are due twice a year. In late winter/spring the County and Municipal taxes are sent to taxpayers and in mid-summer the school taxes are sent to taxpayers.
A 'base year' establishes an assessed value equal to market value for properties within each county. However as property values increase or decrease over years, the assessment value remains unchanged for a property. To reflect market value using the 'fixed' assessment value, a common level ratio is established annually for each county. A common level ratio (CLR) is: 'the ratio of assessed value to current market value used generally in the county as last determined by the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB)." The common level ratio factor is the reciprocal of the common level ratio. A common level ratio of .98 would be equivalent to a common level ratio factor of 1.02 (1 ÷ 0.98). If a property is assessed for $450,000 and the county has a common level ratio factor of 1.02, the 'implied' market value is $459,000 ($450,000 x 1.02). Or, if a property is assessed for $450,000 and the common level ratio factor is 0.90, the implied market value is $405,000 ($450,000 x 0.90).
Note, counties do not typically re-assess each year. When a county has a re-assessment, the common level ratio factor is 1.00 and is considered the new base year. Following are the current common level ratio factors for several South Central Pennsylvania counties:
|County||CLR||Appeal Deadline||Last Re-Assessment|
*CLR Factors as of January 2021
When considering a tax appeal, the 'implied market value' is calculated using assessed value and the common level ratio factor. This amount is then compared to actual market value of a property. If the implied market value exceeds the actual market value, a tax appeal may be warranted. Other factors to consider when deciding to appeal your real estate taxes is how much money will you actually save compared to the cost of filing an appeal. Tax appeal costs include the initial filing fees, possible appraisal fees and possible attorney/legal fees. Not all tax appeals are successful so there is the risk of no change to your assessed value or your annual real estate taxes. Each county has an appeal deadline when all appeals for the following year must be submitted for consideration for taxes for the next year. Above is the deadline for each county.
1 As defined by Pennsylvania Law
Following are average home (residential) sale prices by year and county over the last twelve years in the South Central Pennsylvania market area. All statistics are extracted from local MLS services and may exclude private and non-brokered sales. Analysis of the year over year average price points to 2011 as the low mark of the recession in South Central PA. Every county in the eight-county region saw price appreciation in 2020, despite Covid-19.
The start of 2020 marked approximately ten years of real estate market growth, both in the residential and commercial sectors. This period of economic growth had been one of the longest in more recent history. Many had predicted a slow-down with stable market conditions in 2020 – that was until Covid-19.
The Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) came into world view during late 2019 and early 2020. In February 2020, the severity of the virus came into focus and the United States began seeing more cases and deaths. In Mid-March the Country ‘shut down’ for a two-week period in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. The two-week period turned into months, and states eventually began re-opening at varying times and at different levels. Late spring saw a slow-down, however as business and ‘life’ opened up the summer months saw a resurgence of cases and deaths. This was followed by a brief slowdown of increases in cases and deaths in late summer, early fall in some parts of the Country. As predicted by health leaders, the second wave hit hard in late fall and into early 2021, significantly increasing the number of United States hospitalizations and deaths.
To date, cases have slowed and with the roll-out of the vaccine, many are hopeful that by summer or early fall life may resume to some degree of normalcy.
The impact of Covid-19 on the commercial real estate market has short-term and long-term effects. The short-term effects vary by market sector and type of property. The full extent of the long-term impact is yet unknown. Next we discuss some of the short-term effects impacting property value and touch upon key points that may have an impact in the long-term.
Short-Term Effects on Market Sectors: First, a point to be made regarding the short-term (and long-term) impact is the length of time that Covid-19 has lingered and imposed a threat. In 2020 when the virus came into focus, most of America believed it to be a few-month event that could be contained and would quickly be eradicated. This obviously proved false, and most predictions were dependent on the duration of the virus. So short-term in our definition is defined as through the beginning of 2021.
Long-Term Effects on Market Sectors: As stated above, the length of the impact on ‘normal’ life due to the virus will play a role in determining long-term effects on the commercial real estate market. Future economic impacts on real-estate are always unknown, and the future impact from Covid-19 remains speculative.
Although no one is certain of the full impact on the commercial real estate market, there are some key points for discussion that may shed some light on future impact.