GLOVERSVILLE — Gloversville Assessor Joni Dennie told the Common Council on Tuesday that over the past three weeks she’s picked up documents from Fulton County for 60 new property transfers.
“I have never had volume like this,” Dennie said. “It’s a lot of work, I’ll tell you that. It’s not just a matter of recording the sales, there’s a lot of paperwork that goes into it, but I just can’t believe the number of transfers we’re having.”
Dennie said she typically picks up 10 to 12 new “property transfers” per week from Fulton County. She said some of the transfers include “life-use” transfers of the ownership of property, or instances when someone has died and a property has cleared probate court and into ownership of someone.
“But there weren’t too many of those, most of them were legitimate sales,” she said. “This market is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and I’ve been here for 19 years. In a one-month period I can’t remember ever seeing that many sales.”
Dennie said she tracks property transfers based on the fiscal calendar New York state uses for determining property tax equalization rates, which runs from July of one year to June of the next. Using that time frame, she said property transfers in Gloversville have generally been on an upswing during the last few fiscal-year-periods, with a bit of dip during the worst part of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
These are Gloversville’s property transfer numbers for the last several fiscal-year-periods:
• July 2018 to June 2019 — 495 property transfers
• July 2019 to June 2020 — 420 property transfers
• July 2020 to June 2021 — 503 property transfers
Dennie said it’s too early to tell how the July 2021 to June 2022 period will go, but so far there have been 159 transfers, but 60 of those came in only the last month.
“Currently we’re at 100% [equalization rate], but we’re not going to see that next year, not with these sales,” Dennie said. “These sales are way over the assessed price. For instance, I’m seeing sales of homes going for $150,000 when the assessed price is $75,000.”
The property tax equalization rate is the formula New York state uses to attempt to measure the gap between the property tax assessment in a given municipality or school district and the actual sales price of property in the same area. If there’s a big gap between sales prices and property assessment, then the equalization rate will go down, in an attempt to equalize the tax burden, so that new owners of property do not bear a disproportionate percentage of the property tax levy burden.
Dennie said when properties sell for less than their assessed value that can help cancel out some of the equalization rate changes caused by property selling for far more than the assessed price.
“If you have a sale of a property assessed at $80,000 that goes for $50,000, that helps balance it out the other way, but I’m not seeing too many of those,” she said.
Former Gloversville Mayor Dayton King, who is now a real estate agent and team leader with real estate broker Howard Hanna, said he is seeing the same sales volume Dennie reported to the council.
“My team has closed 92 deals so far this year, most of them in Fulton County and a majority of them in Gloversville, and last year, by the end of the year, we’d done 79, so we’re already ahead, and we’ve still got two months to close deals,” King said.
During the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, 6th Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski asked if she knew where the purchasers of property were coming from.
“I do check that sometimes, and I just had a big sale on a street in the city and I looked and they are from Johnstown,” she said.
“Oh,” Siarkowski said.
“I was surprised they paid as much as they paid for the house, but it had been completely re-done,” she said.
“We all hear how people come from downstate and move up from there, so I was just curious if anyone is actually coming from downstate,” Siarkowski said.
“I can’t tell you I’ve seen a lot of that, honestly,” Dennie said. “I’ve seen a lot more downstate people and out-of-the-area people buying rental properties, but not that many who actually relocate here.”
King said he’s seen sales going “both ways” between Johnstown and Gloversville, but anecdotally he’s heard some of the reasons Johnstown buyers are now buying in Gloversville.
“I know some people have seen that the taxes in Johnstown are going up and the taxes in Gloversville are going down, whether that’s short term or long term, people read that in the paper and react when they see that stuff,” King said.
During his years as mayor of Gloversville, King presided over one tax rate increase when he took office in 2010, when the tax rate was increased to $21.71 per $1,000 of assessed value, but after that the city cut the tax rate four times — in 2014 ($21.31), 2016 ($21.06) 2017 ($20.64), and then to $19.95 for 2019.
During Mayor Vince DeSantis tenure, the tax rate remained flat for his first two budgets in 2020 and 2021, but last week the council unanimously voted to approve a 50 cent per $1,000 of assessed value property tax rate cut as part of the revenue projections for DeSantis’ 2022 budget proposal. The tax rate cut brings the city’s tax rate to $19.45, the lowest inflation adjusted tax rate for Gloversville in about a quarter of a century, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index inflation calculator — which can be found at www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm.
Dennie said property tax assessments are not raised according to changes to inflation in the annual U.S. Consumer Price Index numbers. She said the only time inflation plays any role in property tax assessment is, perhaps, if it plays into the calculation of the sale price of a piece of property, which could then lower the property tax equalization rate of a community, but generally real estate prices tend to go up or down based on demand.
King said he thinks increases in property prices in Gloversville and the greater Capital Region in general are a reflection of supply and demand.
“There’s still not enough property available,” King said. “And there’s people who want to buy, people who have good interest rates, around 3%, and banks still want to loan out money, and there’s not enough people who want to sell, so it’s a seller’s market and that’s driving prices up.”
Published by The Daily Gazette