Monday, November 22, 2010

The Price is Right? North Minneapolis Assessed Values

Post by the Hawthorne Hawkman.  Contributed image.

Unless you've been living under a rock (assessed value:  $75,900) in north Minneapolis you're at least familiar in passing with the lawsuit alleging unfair assessment and taxation practices in the Camden community and the Phillips neighborhood.  This blog posted the court documents online, and I've had a chance to review them.  In this post, we'll break down the map above.

What's hard to see without clicking on the map to enlarge it is exactly how some of the nicest parts of the city are getting a more than fair ride.  While it's true that Jimmy Carter called Hawthorne the nicest neighborhood [he's] ever worked in, that unfortunately doesn't retroactively raise house values across north Minneapolis.  So the blue dots represent households paying taxes at about 60-90% of their recent selling price.  Green dots are at 90-110%, the range allowable by law.  Yellow is 111-150%, orange is 151-200%, red is 201-300%, and maroon dots signify those who are paying taxes based on a valuation over 300% of a recent sale.

In a delicious bit of irony, one of the assessors named in the lawsuit has even contested the valuation of one of his own properties.  But let's take a look at a few other comparisons, such as...

...3114 Thomas Ave N.  (pictures of each of these properties will be added later, if I can find them)

This place was on the market for 161 days, 90 of which it was listed under $37,500.  In September of 2008, it sold for $20,000, but its assessed value just four months later was $136,000.  For those of you without a calculator in your heads, that's 680% of the recent sale.  And if a four-month flip from a $20,000 purchase to a $136,000 resale had actually happened, that would be a likely sign of some kind of fraud.  The assessed value was later put to the test a year later, when it went back on the market fully renovated and still didn't sell for that amount.

Contrast that with 2801 Burnham Bridge Rd, a gorgeous place designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  The house was on the market for 44 days before selling for $2.4 million back in 2007.  Two months later, its 2008 assessed value was $1.26 million, just over 50% of the sales price.  It hasn't changed since then.

Now we're going to play the north Minneapolis assessed value version of The Price is Right.  I'm going to list two sets of sales and assessment data, and then readers can guess which houses they line up with.  If you guess all the answers correctly, winners get their choice between the sofa in they alley that not even the garbage collectors want, or the aluminum cans in my recycling bin, which are probably worth more anyway.

  • One single-family residence sold in 2007 for $52,000 but had a 2008 assessed value of $177,500 and taxes of $2,665.33.  Another place sold in '07 for $194,900 but had an assessed value of $176,500 and taxes of $2,366.84.  Just to be entirely clear:  a place that sold for $52,000 paid MORE IN TAXES than a similar home that sold for $194,900.

So, which house is located at 1606 Sheridan Ave N, just off of the infamous Penn and Golden Valley Rd intersection, and which is at 5502 Wentworth, near Minnehaha Creek?

  • Next up, we have a single-family residence bought in 2008 for $181,000 and has a 2009 assessed value of $166,000.  Taxes on this beauty are $2,195.56.  Contrast that with a similar house that sold in '08 for $65,000 and had an '09 assessed value of $167,500 and taxes estimated at $2,215.60.  In an odd twist, the second house is currently listed for sale at $50,000.  Nobody is clamoring to pay $167,000.
One of these houses is at 1523 Girard Ave N.  The other is also on Girard, but in Uptown at 2741 Girard Ave S.  Which is which?  Oh, the suspense.

And our final question of the day mixes it up by adding duplexes into the mix.

  • A duplex sold in 2007 for $135,000 but the buyers must have gotten a steal considering the '08 appraised value was $336,700 and 2009 taxes are about $4,450.  Another duplex sold for $281,500 in 2008 and had a 2009 assessed value of $254,500 and a tax bill that year of $3,564.96.
Now, which of these is located in the Phillips neighborhood at 1904 15th Ave S, and which is only a few blocks from Lake Harriet at 4149 Aldrich Ave S?

The answers to these questions--and more!--will be revealed after this break.


  1. I couldn't help but notice that the blue dots were densest in areas near water. Places where property values would be much higher. This issue really smacks of institutionalism.

  2. I'm one of those blue dots. It's good to be me, for now.

    It seems like the city would probably bring in more revenue if they assessed values accurately than how they have today. People with the means to pay are more likely to pay, correct?

  3. People with the means to pay are more likely to scream about how much they have to pay...and be heard. Just throwing that out there to see what the response is.

  4. Eye opening post Jeff. Just stumbled across this tonight. Homeowners in the most distressed neighborhoods in our city are getting hosed!


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