Real Estate Execs Push for New Condo Assessments in Ossining
John Jordan | February 2017
OSSINING—Three Westchester County real estate professionals are leading a citizens group called the “Ossining Committee for Fair Taxation” that is looking to have the Town of Ossining, which recently undertook a town-wide property reassessment, ensure that condominiums in the town are assessed at full value, the same as single-family residences and commercial properties.
The trio of real estate executives that make up the citizens group are Jerry Gershner, Salvatore Carrera and Mark Seiden, who appeared before the Ossining Town Board on February 14th and presented the results of their study on the assessment issue. Gershner is the president of Gershner Realty Associates, an Ossining-based commercial real estate brokerage and consulting firm. Seiden is the owner of Mark Seiden Real Estate Team in Briarcliff Manor. Carrera was formerly the Westchester County Director of Real Estate and Economic Development for 12 years during the Andrew Spano Administration and is currently an independent real estate broker and consultant.
Recently, the Town of Ossining implemented, with enabling legislation from New York State, a phase-in of the increased assessment from its revaluation process for homeowners whose tax bill increased by at least 25% and whose income did not exceed $500,000. The report presented to the Town Board recommends a five-year phase-in period for the condominium owners in order to lessen the immediate impact of their anticipated increased real estate taxes.
The committee is asking the Town of Ossining request enabling state legislation to implement the state’s Homestead Tax Option that would assess condominiums on their full market value, similar to single-family homes. Under New York State law, condominiums are assessed as commercial property and therefore condominium valuations run anywhere from about 40%-60% of the assessment if condos were treated as single-family homes.
Gershner told Real Estate In-Depth in a telephone interview that the committee has scheduled a meeting on March 6th with State Assemblywoman and Ossining resident Sandy Galef, who is the chair of the Real Property Tax Committee of the Assembly, and State Senator David Carlucci to discuss how to proceed with enabling home rule legislation that would be required to increase the condominium assessments in the Town of Ossining through the implementation of the Homestead Tax Option. He added that if enacted, the bill, while be revenue neutral, while increasing condominium assessment and tax revenues, single-family home assessments would be reduced on average by approximately 8%.
“A homeowner now paying a property tax of $20,000 per year would see a reduction in its tax bill of approximately $1,600 each year,” Carrera stated. “That is a meaningful amount of a reduction to any homeowner, especially in Briarcliff Manor where the taxes are likely to be much higher than $20,000.”
“While real estate taxes are one of the many factors that a buyer will take into account when making a decision where to live, it is far from the only deciding factor,” Seiden noted in a press statement on the committee’s initiative. “Many other important factors that buyers consider include the condition of the unit including, most importantly, the kitchen and bathrooms. Are they old and in need of replacement or are they modern and up-to-date? Where is the unit located in the complex; on a main road or in a quiet cul-de-sac in the rear? Does the unit have a basement or not, and if it does, is it finished or unfinished?”
Town of Ossining Supervisor Dana Levenberg released a statement on the proposal submitted by the committee to the Town Board to Real Estate In-Depth, which stated, “The town does not have any new position on the issue of condo assessments. We chose not to consider Homestead as part of the town-wide revaluation process last year. This new proposal was brought to us last week by a group of community members/Realtors. We are now in the process of digesting their report and gathering information. We will make a decision about any potential next steps in the near future.”
According to the committee’s report, there are approximately 1,800 condominium owners in Ossining and Briarcliff Manor, as compared to approximately 6,500 single-family and commercial property owners.
“No one wishes to harm the condo owners, but under the ‘fairness’ theory everyone should pay their own fair share of taxes. Nothing more and nothing less. This will correct our last major problem, a long-standing inequity allowed by New York law, which can now be put to bed,” the committee stated in its report.