September 23, 2021

Franklin County property taxes overstate poor, black neighborhoods

A new report concludes that the homes of poor and largely black neighborhoods in Franklin County have been overvalued for tax purposes for much of the past decade.

The report, commissioned by Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano, found that the houses of neighborhoods including parts of Linden, south side and hilltop, were valued at more than their selling values ​​over at least nine years between 2010 and 2019. In some cases, researchers found that properties were overvalued by up to 50%.

Houses condemned in the South Linden neighborhood of Columbus in 2016

In contrast, the report found that homes in the wealthier and largely white neighborhoods such as Italian Village, Victorian Village, Olde Towne East, and Grandview Heights have been dumped for much of the decade.

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“Our review (…) concluded conclusively that low-income predominantly black neighborhoods are routinely overvalued for property tax assessments relative to their sale values, while white majority income neighborhoods are high are regularly undervalued, ”concluded the study, prepared by the Kirwan Institute for the Study. race and ethnicity at Ohio State University.

A new report reveals that some neighborhoods in Franklin County have been undervalued for much of the decade 2010-2019.

What did the study reveal?

Inaccuracies in valuations were most pronounced before 2015, when home values ​​in some urban neighborhoods plunged during the housing crash. But these inaccuracies continued to a lesser degree in some neighborhoods thereafter, concluded the report, which is available at the website of the auditor.

Michael Outrich, a Kirwan Institute researcher who led the study, noted that it is impossible to know the race or income of specific properties that were overvalued or undervalued, only racial makeup and income. neighborhoods of houses.

Stinziano said the report validated some of the concerns he had when he took office in 2019.

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“When I was running, in 2018, one thing I often heard from homeowners was that their value was not properly reflected in their home,” said Stinziano.

Stinziano said he commissioned the study from the Kirwan Institute after a previous audit of the county’s last comprehensive reassessment in 2017 suggested improvements to the audit process.

County Auditor Michael Stinziano

Stinziano said his office is making several changes to try to better match valuations to values. Among them: improving the way properties are “ranked” to better reflect actual condition; have more than one appraiser review the properties to eliminate bias; and more narrowly defined neighborhoods to better capture comparable sales.

One of the reasons the value gaps have persisted is that homeowners in white and wealthy neighborhoods are more likely than other homeowners to challenge their property’s value to the County Review Board, according to the report.

While there is no charge to file a dispute, some homeowners may be discouraged because they have to take time off work or hire a lawyer.

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“There is a certain cost to contesting the evaluations,” said Outrich, of the Kirwan Institute. “If you want to challenge the validations, it’s not cheap, and you just don’t see that level of determination in low-income black neighborhoods. We don’t know if it’s a lack of ‘commitment or if the cost-benefit ratio is simply’ it’s not worth it. ‘

Cross-race home value gap widens in Franklin County

The report also documented the differences in home values ​​between white and black neighborhoods over the past decade in Franklin County.

The report found that in 2019, homes in predominantly white neighborhoods were selling for an average of $ 148 per square foot, while homes in predominantly black neighborhoods were selling for $ 85 per square foot.

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This gap widened from $ 55 to $ 63 between 2010 and 2019. Homes in black neighborhoods, however, appreciated more as a percentage over the decade – 85% from 2010 to 2019 versus 46% for neighborhoods. white.

“Racial disparities persist and continue to grow”

Either way, houses in white neighborhoods remain much more valuable than those in predominantly black neighborhoods.

“Racial disparities persist and continue to grow between white and predominantly black neighborhoods,” the report revealed.

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The report focused on racial disparities and did not take into account other factors that may influence house values, such as municipality, crime, schools, house condition or proximity to amenities. The report also stops in 2019, before a real estate explosion pushes values ​​up by more than 20% in central Ohio, and more in some predominantly black neighborhoods such as Linden, Milo-Grogan, Driving Park and South of Main.

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