Pittsburgh: Regent Square

I’ve started two blog posts about different types of mortgages but there is just so much information to include, it’s been hard for me to complete. Still working on it!

In the meantime, I thought I’d talk a little bit about the area of Pittsburgh known as Regent Square. This little area East of Frick Park is a very hot real estate market. It has a business district, its walkable, it has Frick Park. I love it (and would love to move there 🙂 ) But Regent square is also a unique area of Pittsburgh because it is not its own municipality.

The area outlined in orange on the map below is Regent Square according to Google.

Regent Square is made up of parts of Swissvale, Wilkinsburg and the City of Pittsburgh. This means that depending on where you live in Regent Square, your real estate taxes (and income tax) could vary wildly. The school district also varies depending on the part of Regent Square.

In terms of real estate taxes, the total millage for the 3 municipalities that make up Regent Square are:

  • City of Pittsburgh: 22.63
  • Wilkinsburg: 48.23
  • Swissvale: 38.08

As an example, if you were buying a house for $250,000, here is what your total annual real estate taxes would be in each of these areas:

  • City of Pittsburgh: $5,657
  • Wilkinsburg: $12,057
  • Swissvale: $9,520

These are big differences! This difference in real estate tax greatly affects the value of real estate here. In my experience, a house in the city of Pittsburgh portion of Regent Square will be worth more than a similar house in the Wilkinsburg or Swissvale portion. The real estate taxes make a big difference in what people can afford. Your mortgage payment would be significantly different depending on the area.

In the city of Pittsburgh, you would be paying $471 per month toward the real estate tax portion of your mortgage payment. If you were in Wilkinsburg, the real estate tax portion of your mortgage payment would be $1,004.

Just to be a little more clear, if you took out a mortgage for $250,000, here is an estimate of what your mortgage payment would be. (Principal+Interest+Taxes) (Using an estimated interest rate of 4.25% and not including home owner’s insurance)

  • City of Pittsburgh: $1,701/month
  • Wilkinsburg: $2,234/month
  • Swissvale: $2,023/month

And just a quick note about schools: Wilkinsburg is Wilkinsburg School Disctrict, Swissvale is Woodland Hills School District and the City of Pittsburgh portion is Pittsburgh Public Schools.

You can check the municipality of a particular house on the Allegheny County Assessment Site. (I bring up that website on pretty much every post…but it’s really full of useful information). Search for the address and then on the General Information tab, it will list the municipality. The one below is 14th Ward – Pittsburgh.

Hope that is helpful to you! I think it’s pretty interesting information. I also recently found out about an area of Pittsburgh near Regent Square that is called Park Place?! Who knew??

Millage Totals for Allegheny County

I got a couple of guesses on the highest millage on Facebook. One person guessed Mt. Lebanon and one person guessed Wilkinsburg. Wilkinsburg is correct! It is the highest of all the municipalities.

Here are the top 10 highest:

We used to live in Mt. Lebanon and people always think Mt. Lebanon taxes are one of the highest but they are actually 45th on the list! They have lower real estate taxes than both Upper St. Clair and Dormont.

The lowest real estate taxes in Allegheny County (other than the city of Pittsburgh) are McCandless.

Here are the 10 lowest:

I have the full spreadsheet embedded below, highest to lowest. I included the school district for each in the spreadsheet because that can be helpful too when looking in different areas for a home.

The millages change year to year a bit but this is the most up to date information available now.

And here is a link to the actual spreadsheet in case that is helpful.

Are you surprised by the results? I was when I put all of the information together.

My next post is going to be about different kinds of mortgages that are available. Conventional, FHA, VA, down payment choices, PMI, MIP. All sorts of acronyms 🙂

Calculating Real Estate Taxes

One of the things that always comes up when discussing real estate are questions about property taxes.  Will I be reassessed?  What is millage? What’s the homestead exemption?  How do I calculate the taxes?  

I thought this would be a good first topic because it applies to every single person that owns a home.

Here is the definition of millage: The millage rate is the amount per $1,000 of property value that is used to calculate local property taxes. Assigned millage rates are multiplied by the total taxable value of the property in order to arrive at the property taxes.

For example, if the assessed value of your home is $100,000 and the millage rate is 30, you first convert 30 to a decimal by moving the decimal place to the left 3 spaces.  30 = .03 or 3%.  Next, multiply $100,000 x .03 = $3,000 which is your annual tax amount.  

Now let’s talk about figuring out your municipality’s millage rate.  This is all going to be based on Allegheny County.

There are three parts that make up your millage number:

  • County
  • School District
  • Municipality

All municipalities in Allegheny County have the same County millage which is 4.73.

You can find the list of school district millage rates here: http://apps.alleghenycounty.us/website/millsd.asp

You can find the list of municipal millage rates here:  http://apps.alleghenycounty.us/website/millmuni.asp

For an example, here are the millage rates for the city of Pittsburgh:

  • County – always  4.73
  • School District     9.84
  • Municipality         8.06
  • TOTAL MILLAGE : 22.63 or 2.263%

If you live in the city of Pittsburgh and your assessed value is $100,000, multiply that by the millage—
100,000 x .02263 (millage converted to decimal) = $2,263 would be your annual real estate tax amount.

You can find your assessed value on the Allegheny County Assessment Site. Click the link in the line above, click I Agree at the bottom and then search by address. The General Information tab comes up first and this is where you will see your assessed value. In the screen shot below, the assessed value is $78,800.

Note: City of Pittsburgh has the lowest real estate taxes in Allegheny County but the local income tax that you pay if you live within city limits is higher (3%). Most other municipalities have a local income tax rate of about 1% so factor that in when thinking about your purchase.  You’ll probably be paying lower real estate taxes but higher income tax if you choose to live in the city.

Homestead Exemption

Now let’s talk about the homestead exemption also called Act 50.  When you buy a house, or already own a house, and it is your primary residence, check to see if you have the homestead exemption.  It’ll take $18,000 off of the assessed value of your home.  Meaning, if your home is assessed at $100,000, you would only pay taxes based on $82,000.  ($100,000 minus the $18,000 homestead exemption). 

Here’s a link to the county page where you can download the Homestead Exemption application. You can check whether you have the exemption on the Allegheny County Assessment site. Just click the following link and then search for your house by address: Allegheny County Assessment Site.

This is problably enough info for my very first blog post but how about fun real estate trivia?

Which municipalities have the highest and lowest tax rates?
(other than city of Pittsburgh) 
Leave your answer in the comments and I’ll put the answer in the next post.

I’ll also be posting a spreadsheet of all of the total real estate taxes in order for each municipality in Allegheny County.  🙂