NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Real estate agent Frank Barrett remembers a story where an elderly couple saved for years until they could finally buy a home.
“It meant so much to them to have a home and they struggled to get that money together,” Barrett said.
With the 2020 quadrennial assessments, homes are seeing double and triple their previous values and Barrett fears those higher property taxes may keep potential homeowners, like that couple, from buying in New Orleans.
“I’m seeing all of them go up across the board, some of them much more than others, but they’re all going up a lot,” Barrett said.
Barrett said he knows it’s more than just home values that buyers consider when looking. He said now, concerns over high property taxes may be too high for potential buyers to swing.
“They’re upset about crime, they’re upset about the streets, they’re upset about flooding, now they are upset about taxes, and it’s not right,” Barrett said.
Post-Katrina, attorney Nancy Marshall worked as one of the seven former assessors until the office moved to today’s one-assessor system. She said the new home assessments were to be expected.
“What you look at when you assess a property is recent sales, and what is happening in the market, the particular market you’re looking at, and it can vary widely within a few blocks,” Marshall said.
She said the New Orleans market has undoubtedly changed, especially after Katrina. But, she did admit the new assessments may ultimately price people out of neighborhoods they’ve grown up in.
“One of the things that’s disturbing to me about it all, is that New Orleans used to be a much more mixed neighborhood, in the sense not only black and white, but poor and not poor, rich and filthy rich,” Marshall said.
Marshall said she doesn’t believe there was any wrongdoing by the assessor’s office. And, in looking at the 2020 assessments -- at least in her former district along St. Charles avenue -- she said she believes they’re fair.
“It’s also true that property has gotten to be much more expensive in New Orleans, and that’s hard for people living here in the same house for 20 years, and suddenly their houses assessments are doubled,” Marshall said.
But for Barrett, who said he’s already answered dozens of calls from both concerned buyers and sellers, he believes with the new assessments, that will only mean more houses on the market for longer, as people won’t want to buy into high taxes, crime and poor infrastructure.
“Buying a house is the biggest transaction most people have in their life, and that’s what they live for, for people to have security and safety living in their own home,” Barrett said.
He said he’s already been forced to lower some home sale prices in light of the 2020 home assessments and property tax estimations.