Monday, June 8, 2015

How Much Are They Worth?

When the single bid on the police and court building came in $1.5 million over budget, the discussion turned to finding other sources of money to pay for the project if it happened that an item by item analysis of the bid and value engineering failed to bring the cost down to what had been budgeted. It was then that, for the first time, the potential income from the sale of the two buildings in the 400 block of Warren Street, where the police department and city court are now located, was mentioned.

Council president Don Moore speculated that the two buildings might sell for more than $1 million. The City ordered appraisals on the buildings, which were received last week. According to those appraisals, 427 Warren Street, the one-story 1950s police station that sits on what was originally the site of three buildings, is worth $300,000, and 429 Warren Street, the 19th-century three-story town house where the office of the city court clerk and the code enforcement office are located, is worth $350,000.

It's interesting to compare those appraisals with what some buildings on the same block of Warren Street have sold for in the past couple of years.

422 Warren Street sold for $515,000 in October 2013.

446 Warren Street sold for $585,000 in June 2013.

433 Warren Street sold for $1.2 million in October 2014.

444 Warren Street sold for $610,000 in June 2013.

424 Warren Street sold for $380,000 in August 2014.

431 Warren Street sold for $571,000 in January 2014.

445-447 Warren Street sold for $950,000 in December 2014.

405 Warren Street, which the City seized for nonpayment of property taxes and sold at auction, went for $450,000 in July 2014.

And a block away in the 300 block of Warren Street . . . 

330-336 Warren Street--a one-story building constructed in the late 1960s, a 19th-century town house, and the two vacant lots in between--sold for $1.7 million in September 2014.



  1. If there's ever an argument for ditching our current property tax assessment system, this is it. Having one person (the assessor) guess what a property is "worth" is akin to using a Ouija board. Your property is worth what you pay for it! And as any real estate dealer knows, all you need is one buyer to pay the asking price. Mr. Moore could be right about the value of those two buildings; in fact, given the current market, he could be underestimating by a million! But the larger point here is the wildly unfair property tax assessment system. Write your legislator on that one!

  2. The value was given by an appraiser, not an assessor. The assessor's records have 427 Warren at 550,000 and 429 Warren at 385,000.

  3. The article mentions the appraisal value. It does not mention the assessor's records. Maybe you should go online and check out the actual assessments, before making unfair comments.

  4. The difference between appraised value and assessed value has significance only because of what it says about property tax system. Since appraisals are usually done by a buyer or a seller to get an approximation of what property might sell for (e.g. a bank wants to have some idea of the property's market value before lending money) an assessment is a judgement about a property value that has the force of law (we pay taxes based on such assessments). What would be an interesting followup (hint, hint, Carole) is to see what the assessed values of those properties were at the time of sale. My guess is that you'll find some pretty wild discrepancies, which should reveal what a crap shoot the assessment system is. That's where the unfairness is.

    1. Completely unfair.
      the randomness of the assessor is exactly that, a crap shoot